November 7, 2005
Denton formally invested as chancellor in nontraditional
UC President Robert C. Dynes prepares to present Denice D. Denton with the Chancellor's Medal.
By Jennifer McNulty
In a ceremony that cast aside pomp and circumstance in favor
of multiculturalism, Denice D. Denton was formally invested
as the ninth chancellor of UC Santa Cruz on Friday, capping
a two-day symposium on excellence and diversity.
Chancellor Denton outlines her priorities at her investiture address in the Music Center Recital Hall.
UC President Dynes and Chancellor Denton relax at the University House after the investiture.
"UC Santa Cruz does things differently but for a purpose,"
said Denton, whose choice of a nontraditional inauguration was
in keeping with the campus's reputation for innovation.
As he prepared to present Denton with the Chancellor's Medal,
UC President Robert Dynes acknowledged the milestone--and the
campus's recent change of status within the UC system.
"On Labor Day this year, Santa Cruz ended its 40-year
stint as the young kid on the block," said Dynes. The campus,
with its unsurpassed physical beauty, highly regarded programs,
and commitment to public service, "exemplifies why the
UC system is the premier university system in the world,"
Describing Denton as forthright, honest, direct, and a "trailblazer
in pursuit of equity and multiculturalism," Dynes said
she has the "capability to raise this campus to the next
level. It will be my pleasure to watch her, help her, advise
her, and cheer."
Denton received a standing ovation from the near-capacity crowd
in the Music Center Recital Hall as she took the podium. Sprinkling
her remarks with Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, and Swahili, Denton pledged
her commitment to the campus and hailed UCSC's leadership in
interdisciplinary research. She praised her predecessors, as
well as the students, staff, faculty, and administrators "on
whose achievements we build."
Denton challenged the campus to "lead at the edge"
and outlined six priorities that will guide decisions and the
distribution of resources.
Reflecting on the theme of "excellence through diversity"
that inspired two days of formal discussions on campus, Denton
said her own notion of excellence is achieving the best possible
results by engaging the talents of a diverse group of people.
Her goal is to create a campus climate in which difference
is "welcomed and celebrated," and she mentioned specifically
differences of ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, sexual
orientation, culture, religion, academic discipline, class,
ability, nation of origin, perspective, age, and socioeconomic
The institution will benefit by gaining "the full spectrum
of strengths" of a diverse group of people, positioning
UCSC to "transform lives and improve our society."
"We are poised to address these challenges in ways no
other great university can do," said Denton. "Although
we are a relatively young and small campus, we can prove mighty."
While hailing the campus's strengths, Denton reported issues
she'd heard raised during the two-day focus on diversity and
excellence, including a campus climate that doesn't tolerate
disagreement, student discomfort in classroom situations, conversations
that do not reach across to engage students, staff, and faculty,
and a focus on "obvious differences," such as race
and class, that eclipses attention to other differences.
"These conversations are difficult, and we do have to
find ways to work together," said Denton, quoting a Swahili
proverb that she translated as, "Step by step, we will
achieve our goal."
The ceremony--which began with music by the UC Santa Cruz Gamelan,
violinist Rebecca Jackson and pianist Felix Lawi, and the UCSC
Chamber Singers, conducted by music professor Nicole Paiment--ended with a performance by Taki Ñan, a student Latin American
ensemble, conducted by music instructor Diana Nieves.
Chancellors Emeriti Karl S. Pister and Robert L. Sinsheimer attended the event, which was emceed by Faye Crosby, professor of psychology and chair of the UCSC Academic Senate. Alumna Adilah Barnes (Cowell College, '72) shared her perspective on excellence and diversity, and UC Regent George M. Marcus presented greetings from the Board of Regents.