Denice Denton's life remembered in UC Santa Cruz memorial ceremony

More than 1,000 people commemorated the vibrant life of Chancellor Denice D. Denton today (Thursday, June 29) in a ceremony that spanned four campus venues.

A special web site has been created to honor UCSC's ninth chancellor. The site includes links to a webcast of the memorial event.
Inside the Music Recital Hall, friends, family, colleagues, alumni, donors and community members viewed slides of Chancellor Denton and listened as speakers remembered her as a woman who pushed boundaries and challenged authority.

About 600 people watched simulcasts in the Media Theater and at the Theater Arts Second Stage theater, while other mourners sat quietly on benches or under the redwood trees nearby, listening to the service via outdoor speakers. Many others followed it on the campuswide television network.

The ceremony was attended by University of California Regents, chancellors and UC President Robert C. Dynes. Chancellor France A. Cordova, of UC Riverside presided.

Denice "drew outside the lines, ran with scissors and spoke out of turn,'' said her sister Derri Denton, reading a family statement with sister Michelle Moore at her side. "Denice did not evolve. She arrived like an explosion, a sonic boom. From the moment she was born, we knew she was a special person, a unique individual, a gift from God."

Beginning with the words "vibrant, energetic, visionary, committed, creative, tireless, passionate, gifted, accomplished," Chancellor Cordova said Denton "believed deeply in what she espoused, led by example, and was an inspiration for girls and women in every arena, from kindergarten through the professoriate."

President Dynes and UCSC Professor Angela Davis each called Denton a pioneer. Dynes said that pioneering spirit made Denton a good fit as the chancellor for a pioneering campus. Davis called on the audience to "live her legacy" to achieve excellence through diversity, the theme of Denton's investiture speech just seven months ago.

Dynes said he has watched the investiture speech from the UCSC web site several times in the past week since Denton's death June 24 and has been struck again by her passion and vitality.

"She was a force, a magnificent force,'' said Donna Shalala in a letter read by UC Berkeley Professor Alice Agogino, as she summarized Denton's academic accomplishments and career achievements--not an easy task to do for a woman with a 50-page resume.

Shalala, president of the University of Miami and a past U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, chairs a National Academy committee producing a report "Women in Science and Engineering: A Guide to Maximizing their Potential." Agogino and Denton both served on the committee that has been meeting since last fall. The final report nearing completion is being dedicated to Denton, Agogino said.

Agogino recalled Denton's work in "mentoring mentors," particularly at the University of Wisconsin, where she had her first academic appointment, and later at the University of Washington, where she was the first female dean of engineering at a Class One research university. "She helped women succeed in their careers so they can mentor others," Agogino said.

"We have a long way to go," said Agogino, a professor of mechanical engineering, noting that "being at the forefront" made Denton a target.

She recalled Denton once advising others "to support your local senior feminist colleagues. It's lonely at the top."

UCSC Music Professor Anatole Leiken provided a musical interlude on piano with a selection from Mozart's Sonata in F major.

At the ceremony's conclusion, many of those attending gathered at Kretschmer Plaza for a reception, while others attended a buffet lunch at University Center.