Tuesday, August 9, 2016

There seem to be differing interpretations

Note: See our previous post for the official UC view.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi steps down

Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert, 8-9-16, Sacramento Bee

​UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi resigned Tuesday following a three-month investigation of her actions that found she had violated numerous university policies, exercised poor judgment and failed to be candid with UC President Janet Napolitano and others, the university announced.

Katehi’s resignation marked the end of a seven-year tenure running one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, although she is being allowed to remain at the school as a full-time faculty member, Napolitano said in a statement issued just before 1 p.m.

 In a statement about Linda Katehi’s resignation issued Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, UC President Janet Napolitano stated that Katehi “exercised poor judgment, and violated multiple university policies.”

“The investigation is now concluded, and it found numerous instances where Chancellor Katehi was not candid, either with me the press, or the public, that she exercised poor judgment, and violated multiple university policies,” Napolitano said. “In these circumstances, Chancellor Katehi has now offered to resign, and I have accepted that resignation.”

The stunning fall from power came two days before the UC Board of Regents was to hold a special meeting at UC San Diego to discuss a personnel matter involving the Davis campus – apparently to decide Katehi’s fate – and after weeks of pushback by Katehi’s lawyer and spokesman about the investigation and suggestions that a lawsuit may be in the works.

Katehi attorney Melinda Guzman said Tuesday that Katehi never intended to sue the university. She maintained that the investigation cleared Katehi of virtually all the allegations, including nepotism and misuse of student funds.

The main strike against Katehi, Guzman said, was a “miscommunication” with Napolitano over how much involvement Katehi had in the hiring or two firms paid $175,000 to clean up UC Davis’ and Katehi’s online images after the 2011 pepper spraying of students on campus.

“Let’s be clear, the investigators did not reach a conclusion with regard to whether there was misleading or untruths,” Guzman said. “They were very clear very clear on that. The question was whether she may have minimized her role in the social media contracts.”

Guzman said Katehi was not ready yet to speak publicly, but Katehi issued a letter to the campus in which she declared that she had been cleared by the probe.

“The investigation regarding these allegations has been completed, and the investigators have confirmed that as to material allegations concerning my service to this institution, I did not violate UC policies or laws,” Katehi wrote.

Katehi also maintained that she never meant to mislead Napolitano when asked about the hiring of the social media firms.

“Regarding the social media contracts, the investigation team felt that I had minimized my knowledge of or role in the contracts and that my statements were ‘misleading, at best, or untruthful, at worst,’ apparently not reaching a conclusion on that issue,” she wrote. “I have never intended to mislead the President or anyone concerning my knowledge or role in these contracts.”

Guzman said Katehi’s husband, son and daughter-in-law will remain in their positions at the university.

Katehi, a prominent engineer, will “resume her position as a member of the distinguished faculty and as chancellor emeritus,” Guzman said.

“I have no doubt that she will continue to contribute to the UC Davis campus,” Guzman added.

The chancellor said in her letter that “a time comes when we aspire to go back to where our roots are.”

“Being an academic who loves teaching, and seeks to always innovate, I am very happy to go back to what I always have aspired to be, a faculty member,” she wrote.

Katehi, who has been living in the chancellor’s house on campus, has until Oct. 31 to vacate, said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein.

The campus currently is overseen by acting Chancellor Ralph Hexter, and Napolitano said he will remain while a national search is conducted to replace Katehi.

“Today’s news ends a period of uncertainty at UC Davis,” Hexter said. “The resolution announced by President Napolitano permits us to focus all our efforts on moving the campus forward so that we can serve California, the nation and the world ever more effectively.”

Her resignation ends an era during which UC Davis set new marks for fundraising and ambition, and during which the campus extended its influence into Sacramento with plans for facilities in the city.

But it also marks the end of a turbulent period that brought worldwide condemnation to the school after campus police pepper sprayed student protesters and widespread ridicule after revelations that social media firms had been paid to, in essence, scrub the Internet of negative postings about UC Davis and Katehi.

“With Chancellor Katehi’s resignation, a sad chapter has come to an end,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento Democrat who called for her to step down last spring following revelations that she had accepted board seats with the for-profit DeVry Education Group and with textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons.

“UC Davis can now move forward and be known for what they’re best at: rigorous academics, world class research, an innovative medical center in Sacramento, and an active student body.”

Katehi had many supporters among faculty, as well as Sacramento’s business and political leaders, but she lost support among students and others many following the revelations about her stewardship.

A five-week long sit-in by students outside her office helped keep the pressure on Katehi as she struggled to find a way out of controversy. One leader of the effort said Tuesday that students had planned new protests if action wasn’t taken to remove Katehi.

“I think it’s unfortunate that she has taken so many resources away from the campus in order to get to this point,” said Emily Breuninger, one of more than 30 student protesters who occupied Mrak Hall in April. “She basically turned UC Davis into her little money-making machine.”

“She should have done the honorable thing and resigned when Janet Napolitano asked her.”

Breuninger said the students had been considering additional protests because the promised 90-day administrative leave had expired and they had not heard from officials at the University of California. But they have no plans to disband.

“Moving forward we are going to push at having more of a say who the next chancellor is,” she said. “I think the push is to keep the momentum going and trying to democratize the process. They have to take student and workers into account.”


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