Denice Denton bigraphy, stories - Engineers

Denice Denton : biography

27 August 1959 - 24 June 2006

Denice Dee Denton (August 27, 1959 – June 24, 2006) was an American professor of electrical engineering and academic administrator. She was the ninth chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Honors and awards

Among other numerous awards she won the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award (2006), a national recognition of exceptional work that advances opportunities in the sciences for women and girls; the IEEE/HP Harriet B. Rigas Award (1995); the ASEE George Westinghouse Award (1995); the W. M. Keck Foundation Engineering Teaching Excellence Award (1994); the Benjamin Smith Reynolds Teaching Award (University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1994); the Eta Kappa Nu C. Holmes MacDonald Distinguished Young Electrical Engineer National Teaching Award (1993); the American Society of Engineering Education AT&T Foundation Teaching Award (1991); the Kiekhofer Distinguished Teaching Award (University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1990); and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Presidential Young Investigator Award (1987).


Early years

Denton was born in El Campo, Texas in Wharton County. She was the oldest child of Bob Glenn Denton and Carolyn Irene Drab. showing "Denice Dee Denton, born August 27, 1959. Wharton County. Father Bob Glenn Denton, Mother Carolyn Irene Drab." Denton earned her bachelor's and master's degrees (1982), EE (1983) and PhD (1987) in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Denton spent two summers and an academic year in the late 1970s and early 1980s at Fairchild Semiconductor, where her projects included 64K static RAM design. After graduation, she accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering, which was interested in her work in plasma deposition and polymerization. She was the first woman to win tenure in engineering, and she was quickly promoted to full professor.


Denton held academic appointments at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. In 1996, Denton was hired as the Dean of the College of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington. She was the first woman in the United States to lead an engineering college of a major research university.

Denton received attention for her response to Harvard President Larry Summers' suggestion, in January 2005, that one of the reasons that women had achieved less in science could be innate differences between the sexes. "Of course he has the right to say anything and of course there are biological differences," Denton said. "What some of us were concerned about is that his hypotheses were not grounded in the best and latest scholarly work, and could be refuted by anyone in the field."

University of California

Denton was the first openly gay, and at 45, the youngest person to be appointed to be chancellor in the University of California system by UC President Robert Dynes. She succeeded Martin Chemers, who served as acting chancellor following the resignation of M. R. C. Greenwood who became the University of California Provost.

Denton's recruitment package would eventually include a $275,000 salary, $68,750 as a moving allowance, improvements to the chancellor's on-campus residence which included a $30,000 dog pen initially budgeted at $7,000. Included in the deal was a tenured professorial appointment with a $192,000 salary, and a housing assistance allowance of up to $50,000 for her partner, Gretchen Kalonji.

Although much of the residence was used for campus functions, the approximately $600,000 renovation cost, and overall cost of Denton's recruitment brought criticism. This contrasts sharply against increasing student fees, up 79 percent in four years, and low pay raises for clerical and service staff.

After an April 2005 campus protest over these issues resulted in the arrest of 19 students, 200 faculty signed a petition condemning her "unwarranted" use of force. She also was allegedly a victim of personal harassment, in the form of verbal insults. A barricade was tossed through her guest-bedroom window on June 10, 2005. Protesters advocating higher wages for custodians blocked Denton in her car outside her office for about five minutes on June 6, 2006 while performing a skit about racism.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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