A sad end to a questionable career

Some time ago, I blogged about the UC Santa Cruz chancellor, Denice Denton, who was profiled in the SF Chron because of her very questionable expenditures — including getting a cush, pricey job for her lover.  It turns out that she wasn't only someone who used power unethically, she was also a very depressed person — a depression that eventually culminated in her taking her life by diving off the top of the luxury apartment building in which her lover lived:

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton, apparently despondent over work and personal issues, died Saturday after she jumped from the roof of a 42-story San Francisco apartment building, police said. Denton's partner, Gretchen Kalonji, has an apartment in the building, property records show.

Denton, a well-regarded engineer, had been named this spring in a series of articles examining UC management compensation. She had been criticized for an expensive university-funded renovation on her campus home, and for obtaining a UC administrative job for Kalonji.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if, right now, there are some very guilty people at the Chronicle (editors and writers), all feeling that they drove this poor woman to her death.  If they do feel this way, I think I'd have to counsel them against taking on this moral responsibility.  There is no question but that Denton did the acts alleged:  that is, it's unquestioned that she used public funds for her own, and her lover's benefit.  That was Denton's choice, and with that choice went the possiblity that she'd be exposed.  That she couldn't handle this exposure — or that she had depressive and suicidal tendencies built into her genetic hard drive — is not the media's fault.

It's a little strange, isn't it, to hear me defend the media?  The thing is that, in this case, I think the media did what the media was supposed to do.  Rather than being driven by a political meme or agenda, it engaged in a perfect example of true investigative reporting by following the money, and then telling the story.  It didn't reveal state secrets, it didn't harass her because of political ideology, it didn't stifle other information in the proces — it simply exposed wrongdoing by someone with access to the public till.

It's ultimately a personal tragedy, and I hope that this troubled woman finds some peace in the afterlife — a peace that apparently eluded her when she set off on a convoluted and self-serving path several years ago.

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  • erp

    Assign blame where it belongs, i.e., with the politically correct academy which elevates people far above their abilities to satisfy their distorted fantasy of diversity and then excuses and justifies the most egregious behavior until those involved, in this case, a couple of foolish women were in so far over their heads, they had no idea in the world how to handle it. It was pretty obvious that Denton was escalating the crazy behavior desperately hoping somebody in authority would step in and stop her.

    It’s too bad a possibly very capable engineer who might have made a contribution in a less demanding position was destroyed in the lunatic left’s frenzy to force a square object into a round hole.

    Higher education is a disgrace on so many levels. A very big broom is needed to sweep out all the little corners where things like this are festering. If the Chronicle of Higher Education wasn’t part of the problem, now would be a good time for them to start a campaign to bring scholarship and integrity back onto college campuses.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    I assign blame with individuals. Institutions are bad because of people, even bad systems of institutions are only bad because it does not handle people well and their natural drives.

    A bad institution with good people in it, can do a mediocre and sustainable job. A good institution with bad people in it, will take a long time to devolve.

    The global media doesn’t feel guilty about kicking Presidents out of office or when the BBC leaked some reports and a Blair administration official committed suicide because of it, so it’s a rather shallow ethical standard for them to feel guilty about anyone else in power that they drive to personal self-destruction.

  • Kevin

    Forgive me but I don’t feel much like a compassionate conservative today. If I had to put my finger on it, I would guess my resentment for her stems from the fact that she was involved in the Lawrence Summers lynch mob.

    The first thing that pops into my mind after reading the article is that if she had been a white, heterosexual, conservative male, the colleagues quoted in the article would have called him an arrogant p***k who got what he deserved instead of all the gushing accolades afforded this arrogant crook (and if they hadn’t, I’m guessing that the paper would have still spun it that way.) I find it telling that even when immersed in crime, the liberal protected classes are ultimately portrayed as poor unfortunates. She was educated, knew what she was doing, knew it was wrong and took the quick way out.

    Q: What’s the last thing that goes through a bugs mind as it hits the windshield?
    A: It’s butt.