Regents name Washington dean as UCSC chancellor

    The UC Board of Regents voted in December to appoint Denice Dee Denton, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Washington, as the new chancellor of the university’s Santa Cruz campus.

    Denton will take over the position left vacant by M.R.C. Greenwood, who became the University of California’s senior vice president of academic affairs.

    The 45-year-old’s nomination had been backed by university President Robert C. Dynes, who picked her as his top choice out of more than 700 prospects produced by a national search committee.

    “UC Santa Cruz is a campus on the move, and Denice Denton brings the perfect skills and credentials to build on the momentum created [by her predecessors],” Dynes said.

    Denton, who holds four degrees in engineering, has been credited with increasing access to technical education at University of Washington for student populations that traditionally had lagged in entering science-related career fields.

    The White House recognized Denton in May 2004 for her role in enhancing diversity in science and engineering by honoring her among nine scholars given a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

    “The campus’ expanding international reputation for academic excellence is a testament to the work of its outstanding students and faculty,” Denton said. “I am eager to begin working with them, as well as with the dedicated staff, alumni, neighbors and friends of UC Santa Cruz, to continue the progress that has been made and to take on the exciting challenges that lie ahead.”

    She will receive an annual salary of $275,000, a 2-percent increase over the position’s current pay.

    Davis professor sues CIA for president’s security briefings

    A UC Davis professor has filed a lawsuit against the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking access to the President’s Daily Briefings produced by the agency for President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War.

    The suit by political science professor Larry Berman, who is studying American involvement in the war, argues that the CIA’s “blanket policy” of routinely denying FOI requests for the daily security update, even historical documents that pose no ongoing danger, violates federal law.

    The intelligence agency had denied Berman’s earlier request for the documents, arguing that they were protected by a “deliberate-process” exclusion to FOI, which allows government officials to keep certain documents used during the decision-making process secret.

    However, the lawsuit alleges that the exemption is not available for the CIA, which is forbidden by federal law from providing policy advice to the president.

    Berman has pointed to PDBs, one from 1998 and one from 2001, that were published in the 9/11 Commission Report and previous briefs from the Johnson administration released before the CIA imposed its secrecy policy.

    “Together, these releases prove that the briefs should be reviewed and declassified like any other records, not set aside in a permanently closed vault,” he stated in a press briefing.

    Asian earthquake was predicted, researchers say

    Scientists at UC Davis’ Center for Computational Science and Engineering said that they predicted in as early as 2000 the location of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that caused a deadly tsunami, killing at least 150,000 people in Southeast Asia.

    Using computer models of past quakes, the researchers said they had anticipated that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or greater was likely to strike the Indian Ocean in a 10-year period ending in 2010.

    Speaking before the American Geophysical Union less than two weeks before the Dec. 26 disaster, geology professor Donald Turcotte presented a map by the school’s Quakeism project that identified the waters off the coast of Indonesia as a “hotspot.”

    The map has identified 30 of the 38 major earthquakes that occurred worldwide since 2000, including an October temblor on a previously unknown fault in Japan.

    “The information could allow governments and agencies to make informed decisions about where to locate critical infrastructure and supplies and to set priorities for allocating resources for emergencies or carrying out seismic strengthening and retrofits,” stated John Rundle, the center’s director. “We can’t prevent these devastating events, but we can provide tools so that people can take steps to reduce the potential damage and loss of life.”

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