Jane McHenry, wife of founding chancellor, dies at age of 101

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Dean and Jane McHenry greet Cowell College students during a reception in 1965, UC Santa Cruz's first year. (Photo: UCSC)
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Jane McHenry joined her husband for this 1997 photo, taken in the lobby of UC Santa Cruz's McHenry Library. (Photo: Greg Pio)

Jane McHenry, who with her husband — founding chancellor Dean McHenry — personified UC Santa Cruz for a decade after the campus opened in 1965, died today at her home in Bonny Doon. She was 101.

"Jane McHenry was a very important figure in UC Santa Cruz's early history, partnering with Dean as they nurtured the new campus through its infancy," UCSC's current chancellor, George Blumenthal, said. "The many students, faculty, staff, and community members who had the good fortune to know Jane will never forget her. She was insightful, engaging, and — above all — gracious."

Chancellor Blumenthal, who joined the campus in 1972 as a professor of astronomy and astrophysics, fondly recalled the first time he met Jane McHenry. "I can still remember the warmth she displayed as she welcomed me, a young faculty member at the time, to University House for the first time," he said.

Dean McHenry died in 1998 at the age of 87. He began his tenure as head of the campus a little more than four years before UCSC opened in 1965 with a class of 650 Cowell College students. When he retired in June 1974, the student body totaled 5,000, and UCSC had awarded some 4,800 baccalaureate, master's, and doctorate degrees in more than two dozen subjects.

For more information about Jane McHenry's life, please see the news obituary published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel.