‘She made people feel special’: UC Regent Ellen Tauscher dies at 67

UC Regents/Courtesy

UC Regent Ellen Tauscher died at Stanford University Medical Center on Monday after experiencing complications from pneumonia.

Tauscher was surrounded by family when she passed, according to a statement from her family released Tuesday morning.

Tauscher, who was appointed to the UC Board of Regents in 2017 by former governor Jerry Brown, only served two years of her 12-year term on the board. Student Regent Devon Graves said her passing was unexpected, adding that he thought that Tauscher, whom he called his “partner” on the board, would eventually become chair of the board as her term progressed.

“Ellen was just an amazing human being, and she made people feel special,” Graves said. “She was someone who I could always reach out to whenever I had a question about something or wanted a different perspective.”

In her time as a UC regent, Tauscher worked with UC Berkeley alumni, including current Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson, in opposing the proposed plan to raise campus tuition. She also helped alumni navigate swing votes, Robinson said in a tweet. He added in the tweet that he will “always remember her fondly.”

After starting her career on Wall Street and becoming one of the first women to sit on the New York Stock Exchange, Tauscher served the East Bay for seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2009. During her term, she chaired the Strategic Forces subcommittee for three years before working within the Obama administration as under secretary of state for arms control and international security.

“She blazed trails in business and in the halls of Congress and she held her own at some of the world’s toughest negotiating tables,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who also sits on the UC Board of Regents, in a press release. “We are grateful that Ellen brought those formidable talents to the University of California Board of Regents.”

After leaving the national political scene, Tauscher served on the board of advisers at SpaceX, the board of directors at BAE Systems Inc. and the executive committee of the Atlantic Council, in addition to the UC Board of Regents. She also served as vice chair of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

A memorial service is being planned in her honor, though details have yet to be announced, said UC Office of the President spokesperson Sarah McBride in an email.

“Ellen was a close colleague and a dear friend — generous with her knowledge and her time, and a true example of grace under pressure,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in a press release. “She was taken from us far too soon and will be sorely missed.”

Contact Katherine Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.