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Lesbian head of
U.C., Santa Cruz, commits suicide

Lesbian head of
U.C., Santa Cruz, commits suicide

The lesbian chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, committed suicide early Saturday morning. Denice Dee Denton, 46, apparently jumped from the roof of a 43-story apartment building in San Francisco and was found by a guest at a nearby hotel, the Los Angeles Times reports. She was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The apartment building is where Denton's partner of eight years, Gretchen Kalonji, who was out of town on business, lives. The two met while working at the University of Washington, where Denton was dean of the engineering school and Kalonji was a professor of materials science and engineering, before Denton was appointed chancellor of the U.C., Santa Cruz, campus in February 2005, according to the Times. Kalonji later took a management position within the University of California system at its headquarters in Oakland.

Denton was thought to be the first openly gay chancellor in the U.C. system. Her death was a "tremendous loss for the entire university family," U.C. president Robert C. Dynes said in a statement, calling her "an accomplished and passionate scholar whose life and work demonstrated a deep commitment to public service and to improving opportunity for the disadvantaged and underrepresented."

Although there had been criticism of expensive renovations to Denton's campus home as well as the hiring of her partner, a U.C. spokesperson said such concerns had been resolved and that Denton had faced no discipline, according to the Times. (The Advocate)

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