Denice Dee Denton was an electrical engineer by trade who rose through the ranks at several prominent universities and landed the Santa Cruz top post in February 2005.
She was an ardent advocate for women and others underrepresented in science, engineering and math fields.
One of the youngest and first openly lesbian chancellors in the UC system history, Denton was criticized for her extra perks, the Los Angeles Times reports, including a $600,000 upgrade to the university-owned chancellor's home.
Some labor unions complained that Denton's partner, previously a materials science and engineering professor at the University of Washington, was given a job as head of UC's international strategy development.
UC spokesman Michael Reese said the debate was over, that Denton's compensation was warranted and many universities help top administrators find jobs for qualified spouses.
Denton apparently jumped from her partner's apartment building, who was out of town. Denton was 46.