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January 3, 2005

UCSC welcomes Chancellor Designate Denton

By Jennifer McNulty

A standing-room-only crowd turned out to greet Chancellor Designate Denice D. Denton during her first visit to campus after being approved by the UC Regents as UCSC's ninth leader.


Chancellor Designate Denice Denton greeted members of the campus community at an informal reception outside the Media Theater. Photo: Victor Schiffrin/UCSC Photo Services


Webcast of event welcoming Chancellor Designate Denton to campus (December 15, 2004)
Slide show (mov file) of Chancellor Designate Denton's visit to campus. (December 15, 2004)
Sound clip (mp3 file) of press conference: Chancellor Designate Denton describes her vision for UCSC and her expected first steps as chancellor (December 14, 2004)

Less than 24 hours after the announcement, Denton was welcomed to campus December 15 by UC President Robert C. Dynes, Acting Chancellor Martin M. Chemers, and several hundred people who filled the Media Theater.

"This has been a wonderful experience," said Denton. "I'm trying to enjoy it and take it all in."

Denton will take office February 14.

She comes to UCSC from the University of Washington (UW), where she is dean of the College of Engineering--the first woman to lead such a school at a top U.S. research university. But she was clearly thrilled by her new affiliation.

"The University of California leads the United States and the world in public higher education," she said, noting that UC is thereby also at the forefront of the "challenges and opportunities" facing academia today, including scant resources.

While Denton's formal remarks focused on the campus's distinctions and her eagerness to help UCSC "reach its highest aspirations as a teaching and research university," she displayed an ease that bodes well for her tenure at the "campus in the redwoods."

Denton joked that her "ace in the hole" during the selection process--which she didn't play--was her collaborative research on Tritonia, a sea creature commonly known as a sea slug. After a slide of the creature was displayed behind her, she quipped that it has only six neurons and wondered aloud how many neurons banana slugs have.

Before asking for a show of hands of students, faculty, and staff in the audience, Denton remarked that, "I guess a few of you have had an opportunity to Google me, but I haven't had a chance to Google all of you yet."

Denton will take office in the middle of UCSC's long-range development planning process, and she cited campus partnerships with city and county leaders as "clearly crucial to the success of this campus." The campus is a "powerful driver of economic and social progress" locally, as well as in Silicon Valley, the Monterey Bay Area, and beyond, she said.

Denton singled out UCSC's "celebration of diversity" as particularly attractive to her, noting that she looks forward to helping the campus "live up to that core value." Denton's record includes a strong commitment to diversity, outreach, and educational mentorship. In May, she received a White House award recognizing her work enhancing diversity in science and engineering.

Denton noted that her partner, Gretchen Kalonji, a professor of materials science and engineering at UW, was unable to join her because Kalonji was at a professional meeting in China. Following the presentation, Denton greeted members of the campus community at an informal reception outside the Media Theater.

More than 700 people applied for the top post at UCSC, a process that began in May, noted search committee member and UCSC chemistry professor Eugene Switkes.

"It was a sunny day when the committee was charged, and it's a sunny day this December 15 when we welcome Chancellor Designate Denton," said Switkes. "I look forward to working with you, Denice."

Dynes recited a string of adjectives he uses to describe the UCSC campus: "on the rise, launched, accelerating, on the move, moving forward." He said Denton joins a string of bright stars at the helm of UCSC, including former chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood, who is now provost of the UC system, and Acting Chancellor Chemers, the former dean of social sciences who was first appointed acting provost and executive vice chancellor after the departure of John Simpson.

"Marty stepped up not once but twice during sudden transitions in key leadership positions on the campus," said Dynes. "He didn't hesitate to lead with confidence and optimism."

"I've learned a lot about leadership from Marty--as he would lecture me quite often," Dynes quipped warmly, noting that leadership is Chemers' research area. "I know Marty is held in the highest regard here," concluded Dynes.

A standing ovation and enthusiastic applause greeted Chemers, who thanked the campus for the "faith and support" he'd received.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this campus," Chemers said, urging colleagues to join him in helping ensure a smooth transition. "I look forward to returning to the faculty and doing my old job."

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