A Tribute to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox

My predecessor, colleague and friend Marye Anne Fox passed away on May 9, 2021.

When I took over as UC San Diego chancellor in 2012, Marye Anne handed me a campus in spectacular shape. That was clearly an amazing accomplishment because the first eight years of her administration were spent enduring turbulent economic times and managing difficult financial challenges. She not only did an excellent job, she also set up UC San Diego for tremendous success far into its future.

Marye Anne was the first woman to be appointed as permanent chancellor. Under her leadership, UC San Diego successfully completed its first billion-dollar capital campaign, celebrated its 50th anniversary, and expanded the campus at a record pace to accommodate student growth and a billion-dollar research enterprise.

As a gifted administrative leader, she advocated for lasting change on complex issues. Because of her research knowledge and tremendous foresight, UC San Diego became one of the greenest campuses in the nation and is now a living laboratory for climate change research and solutions. She also instituted systemic changes in leadership, visibility and funding to improve diversity and enhance UC San Diego’s campus climate. Her dedication paved the way for the university to establish a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and laid the foundation for continuous learning and improvement.

She left the campus in a very strong position—ready for growth, poised for ongoing innovation, and valued for its contributions to the region, state and world. We would not be where we are today without her visionary leadership and steady hand.

Marye Anne was also an internationally renowned chemist. Her pivotal research greatly advanced the world’s understanding of renewable energy and environmental chemistry. Among many awards throughout her career, she received the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama in 2010.

This is truly extraordinary because at the time of her entry into academia, being a woman in a discipline such as chemistry was not easy. But that did not stop her. Among her many prestigious appointments and honors, she was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She earned distinguished fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of Advancement of Science. She received honorary degrees from a dozen institutions in the United States and abroad. And she was invited to be on the boards of several companies and organizations.

Marye Anne was highly respected, looked upon for her leadership and greatly valued for her intellectual contributions. She will be missed, but her legacy of changemaking will continue to inspire those who knew her and those who will come to know her work. Marye Anne Fox will be remembered as a prolific leader who had a broad and lasting impact on academia, scientific research, and the world.