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Kaiser's Denton Named VC for Capital Projects

by Jesus Mena, Public Affairs
posted October 21, 1998

Edward Denton, former Vice President of National Facilities Services at Kaiser Permanente, has been chosen Vice Chancellor for Capital Projects.

The post he is assuming was created by Chancellor Robert Berdahl to coordinate all aspects of a proposed massive seismic retrofitting program. He also will oversee on-going capital improvements and a multimillion dollar backlog of deferred maintenance.

Under Berdahl's administration, the campus conducted the most comprehensive seismic assessment to date last year. The report concluded that 27 percent of all usable space on the campus was rated poor or very poor. Corrective work to eliminate life safety hazards is estimated to cost more than $1 billion over 20 years. The program to accomplish the work is known as the SAFER (Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal) Program.

"Given the breadth of the work that needs to be undertaken, we need a strong leader planning and coordinating this program," said Berdahl. "Ed Denton's experience in planning facilities for Kaiser Permanente makes him the right man at the right time."

Denton will oversee Berkeley's Office of Planning, Design and Construction. The office has approximately 100 staff and an operating budget of $5 million. This office currently is overseeing about $700 million worth of capital projects in progress.

Denton views the SAFER Program as an essential investment needed to protect the campus's future.

"With its proximity to the Hayward Fault, the campus needs to address its seismic problems systematically and aggressively," he said. "The campus faces a significant challenge. The Chancellor has taken a very bold step in recognizing that a certain expertise is needed to deal with such a massive project."

Denton said the campus also needs to take care of deferred maintenance, which is estimated at $200 million.

"When you speak to deans and faculty about these older buildings, they do not talk to you about seismic retrofitting," said Denton. "They talk about insufficient hot water, poor heating, elevators that don't work consistently, the lack of water pressure."

These buildings' infrastructures have to be upgraded along with any retrofitting program, said Denton. Otherwise, the campus can end up with earthquake resistant structures that do not perform to basic standards.

"For us to be successful in our work, I want to see a marriage between the maintenance and the design and construction staff," he said. "I think this is critical."

Denton, who spent a good part of his summer vacation on campus so he could "hit the ground running" when he officially assumed his post Sept. 1, already has initiated a new process to budget and schedule future construction projects. This process will better predict the cost of these projects and assure that schedules and budgets are maintained during the course of the project.

Also, Denton is continuing to develop the strategic master plan begun earlier this year with precinct planning. The strategic master plan will assure that buildings constructed in the coming years respond to academic need.

"We need to be building in anticipation of need rather than building in reaction to need," he said.

A Cal alum, Denton said, "I feel like I'm coming home. It's nice to give back to a place that gave me so much."

Denton and his family have lived in Crockett since 1973. His wife Barbara is also a Cal alum, and his daughter Alexis is a high school senior. He enjoys sailing in San Francisco Bay, makes wines at home and dabbles in the art of making caviar.


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