The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

18 March 2005

A Tale of Two University Heads


Why Can't Anyone Stop Chancellor Denice Dee Denton?

*** June 25, 2006 Note: we are sorry to hear of Chancellor Denton's passing, after a suicide plunge from a San Francisco highrise. Please see this site's main page for the latest. An earlier 2005 report can be found here. ***

The financial rewards for being politically correct on campus have become even clearer today, as have the penalties for deviating from collegiate mob rule.

The Radio Equalizer has been following the stories of Harvard University President Larry Summers and critic Denice Dee Denton, new University of California-Santa Cruz Chancellor. Denton, as a conference attendee, angrily denounced Summers's now-infamous remarks on theories of why there are still relatively few women in science and engineering departments.

While Summers continues to get pounded by faculty critics, including an entire department voting "no confidence" in his presidency, Denton is reaping the rewards of being on the left side of the political winds.

Denton, recently relocated to Santa Cruz from the University of Washington in Seattle, raised eyebrows in January with an astounding UC pay and benefits package. Here's what I wrote at the time:

On January 21, an AP story with substantial contributions from the Santa Cruz Sentinel's Jondi Gumz appeared, detailing Denton's sleazy pay package, that included a $275,000 annual salary plus $68,000 for moving expenses from Seattle (less than 1000 miles from Santa Cruz).

One joke circulating in Santa Cruz was that perhaps they were going to scoop up her Seattle home and place it on a barge bound for Monterey Bay.

What made the Sentinel report explosive was the revelation that Denton's longtime partner Gretchen Kalonji was also hired by the UC system as part of the former's employment offer, in the same closed session meeting. Kalonji, supposedly an expert on international education, accepted a $192,000 per year deal with-- are you sitting down-- a $50,000 moving allowance of her own.

Today comes word, again from Jondi Gumz at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, that Denton's official campus residence will be remodeled to the tune of $600,000, coming from an endowment that could instead be used for any number of more constructive purposes:

SANTA CRUZ — A $600,000 upgrade planned at the chancellor’s house at UC Santa Cruz is raising eyebrows among some campus employees. The funding will come from the UC Office of the President. UC spokesman Paul Schwartz emphasized that no state money will be spent at the house, where the chancellor frequently hosts university meetings and fund-raising events.

The location gives guests a breath-taking view of Monterey Bay. Campus employees who haven'’t had raises due to the state’'s fiscal woes question the size of the project and the universitys priorities. One sign of discontent: The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees reported that 92 percent of service workers at UC campuses voted to strike in balloting that ended Wednesday.

Members of the University Professional and Technical Employees and the Coalition of University Employees are discussing whether to follow suit. The three unions represent about 1,300 workers at UCSC. Schwartz said the house is more than 40 years old and has had "no major maintenance" in more than a decade. The kitchen and dining room used for public events were renovated in 2001-02 at a cost of $228,000. The driveway and patio were repaved that same year for $89,000.

Imagine, a 40 year old home, without a remodel in ten whole years? I can't imagine how she functions in such a decrepit environment. Notice Denton hasn't volunteered any of the enormous moving "expenses" she and her partner were granted to make the move from Seattle.

That $600,000 coming from the endowment could be used for a variety of purposes, anything not funded by the state. It's not limited to fancy residential remodels.

The Sentinel story points out needs at residences on other UC campuses:

He said that only 19 percent of UC’s operational costs are underwritten by state funds. UC evaluated the condition of all of its chancellors’ homes five years ago and discovered some needed major work. Schwartz cited three examples in addition to UCSC.

At UC Riverside, $616,000 worth of improvements, including asbestos abatement, were made in 2003 to accommodate a new chancellor, his wife and two teenagers.

UCLA launched a fund drive that has raised more than $1 million to renovate and upgrade an 11,000-square-foot home built in 1930.

At UC San Diego, where UC President Robert Dynes was chancellor, the chancellor’s 11,400-square-foot residence was closed last summer because of structural and seismic deficiencies. A fund drive was started to raise $7 million to cover renovations of the home, valued at $12 million.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, fund-raising has lagged because the university also is seeking $1 billion for scholarships, faculty research and new programs. Faculty union leader Fred Lonidier would rather see money go toward instruction.

Fine, the houses need work at several UC campuses. But at UCSD, they're looking to alumni fundraisers to cover the costs. At UCLA, they've already done it that way.

If only 19% of campus operational funding comes from the state, and you had an system-wide endowment of $150 million that earns $7 million per year, wouldn't you want to use that money wisely, only for the most pressing needs?

It's partly the timing that's the issue, coming on the heels of Denton's eye-popping pay package, the nepotism scandal that resulted from the hiring of her partner at the same time, coupled with this $600,000 renovation, shows the university doesn't care how it's perceived by taxpayers, students, faculty or staff. This from a school with a terrible history of arrogantly ignoring the town/gown concerns of a quarter-million county residents living outside of campus.

Notice that opposition to Denton's excesses is not just coming from conservatives, but from labor unions representing campus workers as well. Who can blame them?

With the chancellor on the "correct" side of the issues as an outspoken activist, however, how noisy can critics from the left get before they face their own scorn? So how does she get away with all of this?

For one thing, it's mostly been kept out of the press, beyond the Sentinel one mention in The Wall Street Journal and a few blogs. This seems to have emboldened Denton, there's no apparent personal effort to repair damage, it's left up to the university's PR department. Will this development get the story a highly needed fresh round of attention? We'll see.

Update: maybe this finally get the attention it deserves. Captain's Quarters has now linked to this piece with Cap'n Ed's own take and Instapundit linked to his.

By the way, fair disclosure: I couldn't possibly have more connections to this story. I'm a UCSC grad (Cowell College, International Politics), have lived in Seattle and Massachusetts and formerly wrote for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.


  • This is from my article "The Education of Larry Summers" in the February 28th edition of The American Conservative -- notice the new wrinkle at the end about Denton's defender, UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood. -- Best wishes, Steve Sailer,

    In reality, Nancy Hopkins is a veteran at playing the gender card. Wendy McElroy reported in 2001 on Hopkins' lucrative conflicts-of-interest:

    "The [MIT] Committee was established to investigate complaints of sex discrimination that were leveled by Hopkins herself. Yet she became the Chair, heading an investigation into her own complaints. As a result of her findings, Hopkins received -- among other benefits -- a 20 percent raise in salary, an endowed chair and increased research funds. Indeed, most of the Committee consisted of women who benefited substantially from the 'guilty' verdict. The only evidence of sex discrimination produced was the fact that there are more men than women in the faculty of the School for Science."

    Similarly, Denice D. Denton was celebrated for standing up to Summers to, in her words, "speak truth to power." This heroic tableau of the humble, no-doubt-discriminated-against woman engineering professor daring to defy the mighty male university president lost some luster when it emerged that Denton was UC Santa Cruz's chancellor-designate at $275,000 annually. One college supremo attempting to intimidate another one into not mentioning inconvenient facts is not what most people visualize as speaking truth to power.

    A few days later, Tanya Schevitz reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on how Denton plays the game. The headline read, "UC hires partner of chancellor: creates $192,000 post for Santa Cruz chief's lesbian lover."

    Less privileged women were unenthused:

    "'It makes me sick,' said Mary Higgins, an administrative assistant at UCSF and statewide president of UC's clerical union, which did not get a raise this year. 'It is a violation of the public trust and it is just more of the same.'"

    But Denton had a powerful defender in the woman scientist who had formerly headed UC Santa Cruz. M.R.C. Greenwood praised UCSC's two-for-the-price-of-three deal for the lesbian academics as the cost of gender diversity: UCSC "should be commended for attracting and hiring two very qualified female engineers."

    Greenwood herself had just moved up to provost of the UC system, at $380,000 per year, almost $100,000 more than the man she replaced. Moreover, she had quietly brought with her a female scientist friend from Santa Cruz to fill the novel post of "Executive Faculty Associate to the Provost."

    Are you noticing a pattern here?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 March, 2005 15:31  

  • Steve:

    Thanks for the additional details. Fantastic research! Glad to know others are on this.

    Great piece!

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 21 March, 2005 01:09  

  • Cowell College '81 Anthro - My first instinct when the Alumni magazine came with that big 8-1/2x11 glossy cover of the new Chancellor was a gut-laugh, "Dude! Where's my Chancellor?" followed by the thought, "This must mean that state-funded institutions really have no fundraising needs?"
    Universities have become a haven for scammers, ideological and otherwise - I guess in the past, given the small rewards and insular community, con-artists wouldn't have chanced it they way they can today.


    By Blogger NotClauswitz, at 21 March, 2005 17:03  

  • Check out UCSC Extension:
    New layoffs have targeted older workers and people close to retirement eligibility.
    Budget woes? Are we kidding Where are you folks?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15 July, 2005 01:09  

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