UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Ed Denton announced last week that he will be retiring in January after more than 15 years working for the campus.
Denton has worked on projects such as the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, the Li Ka Shing Center, the renovated Memorial Stadium and the newly built Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance Center. Denton previously worked as Kaiser Permanente’s national facilities manager.
Denton was hired in 1998 to fill a new position, vice chancellor of capital projects, which was created to address the campus’s considerable number of seismically deficient buildings.
Of approximately 2 million square feet of space identified as needing retrofitting by the campus in 1997, 75 percent has been strengthened during Denton’s tenure, according to Christine Shaff, communications director of the campus Facilities Services department.
“A lot has been accomplished on campus under his leadership,” Shaff said.
In 2002, Denton was named vice chancellor for Facilities Services, head of a three-pronged department that encompasses capital projects, real estate services and as physical plant and campus services.
Denton oversaw reconstruction of Memorial Stadium and construction of the Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance Center, a $321 million dollar project that spanned almost a decade from start to finish. Denton considers the project a major achievement and one of UC Berkeley’s largest construction projects.
“I define the Memorial Stadium and the Simpson Center as my capstone project,” Denton said. “I hope folks will look back at my tenure and see my legacy.”
The project, however did not come without challenges. Denton was personally involved in a lawsuit brought against him and the university that aimed to protect an oak grove near the stadium by halting construction of the high-performance center.
David Friedman, senior principal of Forell/Elsesser Engineers and lead engineer for the stadium’s renovation, has worked with Denton for more than a decade. He described Denton as “a straight-shooter” as well as an intelligent leader who “embraced the engineering acumen of faculty.”
“I give him an honorary degree in structural engineering,” Friedman said. “Previously, there wasn’t a big track record of finishing projects on time or within budget. He straightened ships around.”
Denton is also a UC Berkeley alumnus and has a close relationship with the campus, noting that it looks different from how it did when he was a student — in part because of his work.
“My wife accuses me of walking around campus and acting like it’s mine,” Denton said. “I really enjoy walking around the grove of redwoods near Pappy’s statue. The campus is so different now. It’s improved with modern buildings that attract the best researchers and students. But that walk is the same, and that’s what makes the campus so special.”
Contact J. Hannah Lee at [email protected]