Marye Anne Fox at 2010 Founders Day event. Photo by Erik Jepsen via UC San Diego

Marye Anne Fox, UC San Diego’s first female chancellor, died Sunday at age 73, UCSD announced Monday.

She died Sunday night at her home in Austin, Texas, after a long illness, said North Carolina State University, where she also was chancellor.

Fox was UCSD’s seventh chancellor and led the university “during a historic era of extraordinary campus growth and through unprecedented financial challenges,” Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said in a statement.

Under her leadership, UCSD completed a billion-dollar capital campaign, celebrated its 50th anniversary and expanded the campus to accommodate student growth and a billion-dollar research enterprise.

Fox was also an internationally renowned chemist. Her research advanced the world’s understanding of renewable energy and environmental chemistry.

For her work, she received the Charles Lathrop Parsons Award from the American Chemical Society and the Othmer Gold Medal — jointly awarded by the Science History Institute, the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, The Chemists’ Club and the American section of the Societe de Chimie Industrielle.

In 2010, Fox received the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.

Marye Anne Fox received National Medal of Science from President Obama in 2010. Photo via UCSD

She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and to fellowships both in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of Advancement of Science. She also received honorary degrees from 12 institutions in the United States and abroad.

“Because of her vision, UC San Diego became one of the greenest campuses in the nation and is now a living laboratory for climate change research and solutions,” Khosla said.

Fox 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.

In addition to her service to UCSD, Fox served on the Council on Competitiveness, Building Engineering and Science Talent, the Association of American Universities, National Security — Higher Education Advisory Board and the World Universities Network.

“Marye Anne was extremely gracious during the transition period and upon my arrival at UC San Diego,” Khosla said. “She left the campus in a very strong position — ready for growth, poised for continuous 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.”

Former NC State University Chancellor Marye Anne Fox also was the first female challencellor at North Carolina State University, starting in 1998.

“Even with all of her many accomplishments, what stands out to me is that Marye Anne perpetuated the notion that NC State needed to raise its expectations as a premier academic institution,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement. “Her leadership changed how we think of ourselves as a university and elevated NC State’s stature as a world-class academic institution.

She is survived by her husband, James K. Whitesell, UCSD professor of chemistry and biochemistry, as well as three sons and two stepsons.

Contributing editor Ken Stone contributed to this report.

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