UW News

July 6, 2006

UW says goodbye to Denton

An informal gathering for Denice Denton’s UW colleagues and friends is scheduled for 1 p.m. today in the Microsoft Atrium of the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering. Denton, who was dean of the UW College of Engineering from 1996 to 2005, died June 24 in an apparent suicide. A formal memorial service is being planned for fall.

Contributions to the Denice Dee Denton Endowed Memorial Scholarship can be made on the UW’s Creating Futures Web site: https://secure.gifts.washington.edu/uw_foundation/gift.asp?source_typ=3&source=DENCOE  

In addition, a more than $250,000 endowment in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering intended to support a diverse student population has been named for Denton.

Many of Denton’s UW colleagues say her enduring legacy will be in the students and faculty, especially women and minorities, for whom the doors of opportunity in science and engineering were thrown open wider.

“Denice was an inspirational and transformational leader for the College of Engineering, with a strong focus on developing people to achieve their fullest potential,” said Interim Dean Mani Soma. “Besides her impact on the national scene, she left an indelible legacy in our college: promoting and achieving diversity among our students and faculty, enhancing engineering education, and raising the quality of our programs.”

“Denice really cared about students,” said Ana Mari Cauce, executive vice provost. “She felt strongly about the need to educate more students in science, math, engineering and technology — and that our failure to nurture women in these fields compromised our country’s competitiveness. She was also very committed to social justice issues — particularly for ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, immigrants, international students and faculty.”

Denton was the first woman to become dean of engineering at a major research university. Before coming to the UW in 1996, she was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987, leaving as professor of electrical and computer engineering and of chemistry.

In honor of Denice’s work with diverse populations, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2004. She received the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award in 2006 for her work in developing programs at universities and with neighboring organizations to encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and math. She also was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The UW’s incoming Engineering dean, Matt O’Donnell, said, “Denice Denton was a true leader and friend to the College of Engineering and UW. Her achievements were countless, but she will best be remembered for her vision, integrity, and backbone. This is a great loss for our community. We will miss her.”