March 14, 2005
Staff advocacy is part of my job,
Denton says at staff forum
By Jennifer McNulty
During her first forum with staff, Chancellor Denice D. Denton
expressed strong support for campus employees and emphasized
that she will become more informed and involved with their issues.
Chancellor Denton greets staffers after speaking at the
Photo: Louise Donahue
I believe staff are the people who really make universities
run, Denton told the crowd that filled Kresge Town Hall
Staff have a core focus on the place that is different
from that of students and different from that of faculty. They
really think about the place and how to make the place better.
An overflow crowd turned out for the chancellors first
brown-bag forum since she took office on February 14, repeatedly
greeting Dentons comments with applause on an unseasonably
warm day that prompted Denton to quip, Im lovin
it here. Im jealous of the group out on the patio. They
get to sit outside.
Denton credited staff members with easing her transition and
responded to a question about her support of represented employees
by describing her role negotiating labor contracts during her
tenure at the University of Washington.
Denton, who was chair of the College of Engineering at UW before
taking the UCSC job, said she and the vice president of human
resources negotiated 22 contracts with 15 unions in less than
a year, including a contract with the United Auto Workers that
covered graduate students and research assistants. She attributed
their success to strong relationships, solid preparation, and
a common goal.
After all, dont both management and labor want
things to be great on campus? I think so, she said. Lets
Acknowledging that labor contracts in the UC system are negotiated
at the systemwide level, Denton nevertheless made it clear that
she sees advocating for staff as part of her job.
Ive got to learn what a chancellors role
is vis-à-vis labor in this environment, and Im
on it, said Denton. Im working on it. Its
a top priority. Im going to be involved. I want to be
Denton was also asked about the controversy over comments by
Harvard President Lawrence Summers, who suggested at an academic
conference that women are underrepresented in science and engineering
because of innate differences in their abilities.
Denton, who attended the conference and has been an outspoken
critic of Summers comments, said the media storm has created
a global teachable moment to reject, once and for
all, the centuries-long strategy of using pseudo-science
to dismiss entire groups of people as inferior.
You do have to pick a side on this story, and then do
something about it, said Denton, who reiterated her commitment
to increasing diversity at the University of California to ensure
that everyone has access to the opportunities made available
by higher education.
During introductory remarks, Denton mentioned that the people
and core values of the campus, as well as its long
history of interdisciplinary scholarship, are among the things
that attracted her to UCSC.
I really sincerely believe we can do great things herecontinue
to do great things, she said, noting her desire to build
on our progressive traditions and expand educational opportunities
Denton reiterated her commitment to UCSCs reputation
for excellence in student-centered undergraduate education,
which she intends to move to the next level by enhancing
When you expand graduate education, youre expanding
undergraduate educationyou have more mentors in the shop,
In addition, Denton expressed a desire to increase UCSCs
family friendliness, expand the availability of
child care on campus and in the community, improve work-life
balance for employees, and engage the community in the
campuss long-range planning process.
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