This week, the Vanguard ran a story asking for the incoming UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to come clean in terms of her involvement in a University of Illinois scandal. Last week, the Sacramento Bee had run a story where Ms. Katehi had apparently refused to answer questions. In response, UC Davis released a statement to the media that claimed she had no knowledge of the scandal.
She wrote in an email:
“I want to be clear to you and others at UC Davis that I was not involved in the admissions decisions that were the subject of the Tribune’s “Clout Goes to College” investigation.”
“The so-called “Category I” admissions process was not part of the regular admissions system and was handled at a higher level in the institution.”
However, as we were to learn later in the week and ran on Thursday, this is not the full story as her subordinates were shown by email documents to have made some of these decisions that she claimed were handled at a higher level. At the very least this raises questions about her role that ought to be asked and once again she needs to come clean about her precise role in this scandal.
In his Friday column, Davis Enterprise columnist Bob Dunning asked people to call off the “attack dogs” going after incoming UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi. I am a bit baffled as to where he is coming from on this. He was critical of her new salary, why would he go out on a limb to defend Ms. Katehi. In particular, he does not seem to understand the gravity of mounting evidence against her on this issue.
The new UC Davis chancellor has been put in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative – no, she says, she didn’t know unqualified students were being admitted, even though as provost she was ultimately the one in charge of admissions – her critics, lacking any evidence of any kind – concrete or otherwise – say that either she knew and directed such a misguided policy, or, if she didn’t know, she should have – either way, they say, it’s proof positive she’s not up to the job of being chancellor at a UC campus – talk about a ‘no win’ position –
In particular, Dunning says, “her critics, lacking any evidence of any kind…” Really Bob? On Thursday, we demonstrated that Provost Katehi’s direct line subordinate was issuing orders to either wait list or admit students who he acknowledged received less than stellar scores.
The same day, the Sacramento Bee released information that shows Ms. Katehi’s name on a variety of email messages. This despite her claims that she was simply not involved.
The Bee writes:
A review of 1,800 pages of documents related to the case and released to the Tribune shows Katehi’s name about 50 times. The bulk of the e-mails are from the office of Chancellor Richard Herman to members of Katehi’s staff.
But her name is in the chain of distribution, most commonly as a “cc.”
In an e-mail to Katehi from trustee Robert Sperling, he writes: “(redacted) is on your list. A Stevenson grad with an excellent semester.”
Katehi passed the e-mail on to Vice Provost Ruth Watkins and Debbie Kincaid, assistant to Keith Marshall, the associate provost for enrollment. Kincaid then sent it to Marshall with this note: “For the Cat I file.”
Lacking evidence of any kind? Really Bob–are you ignoring this or did you simply not read the Sacramento Bee?
The Bee continues:
Katehi said Tuesday that a lot of inquiries are from parents of students with excellent records who would have been admitted in any case.
She said that during her three years as provost nothing unusual attracted her attention in any of the e-mails that came to her. She said she believed the e-mails were standard requests to check the status of applications for admission.
The documents obtained by the Tribune show that Watkins, Kincaid, Marshall and others in the provost’s office, including an administrative assistant, handled Category I requests on a regular basis. All worked for Katehi.
Yet, Katehi sent an e-mail to UC Davis officials Monday, saying “the Category I admissions process was handled at a higher level.”
I don’t know about some on here, but to me this is at least worth looking into. Ms. Katehi doesn’t have to prove a negative, what she does have to do is offer a credible explanation as to why her name is on email chains, why her subordinates are involved in the scandal, and yet somehow she doesn’t know what is going on.
And yes Bob, I do think the time has come to suggest that if she did not know what was going on, perhaps she should have, and that fact alone gives her culpability. If she was looking the other way at corruption that is not much different than her being an active participant.
There are those who simply suggest that since this scandal would not happen in California, or at UC Davis, we have no need to worry about the new Chancellor. I could not disagree more. To me this is an issue of character. We are hiring someone who can run a top notch program with honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, right now both of those characteristics are in question.
Ms. Katehi is acting right now like a politician caught in a scandal and is denial mode. The problem is that there is enough evidence to cast doubt both on her explanations and her actions. She needs to come clean and by failing to do so, she has made this a far bigger issue than it might have been. Political leaders rarely go down for the crime, it’s always the cover up or the failure to be honest up front.
Meanwhile it is not a mere academic question as to whether she looked the other way at wrongdoing. At best that is what it appears to be. People under her were doing things and she appeared to look the other way as they did them. There is no evidence that she was directly involved in these decisions, there is a ton of evidence that she knew what was going on and did not say anything about it or attempt to stop it.
Dunning for his part continues:
TRUTH BE TOLD – as disturbing as some of the allegations coming out of the Univ. of Illinois are, let’s be honest here – Illinois is not the only institute of higher learning on the planet to bend the rules for the offspring of influential ‘friends’ of the university
That’s a pretty incredible statement of justification here. It is alright because they are not alone in perpetrating fraud. Nice.
It’s interesting to note that most of the noise about Katehi’s competence is coming from the same folks who were also attacking her salary – now, it’s one thing to legitimately question the salary being paid to a public employee – it’s quite another to question that employee’s integrity – it’s time for her critics to put up or shut up –
I’m not sure why he finds it so interesting that some critical about Katehi’s possible role in the Illinois scandal are the same critical of her salary. He argues that its legitimate to question her salary (which he has also done) but not legitimate to question her actions? Again, I just don’t get it.
I’m not sure what he means that “it’s time for her critics to put up or shut up.” Is he suggesting still that there’s no evidence to question her integrity? Because I think there is substantial documentary evidence to do just that. Again, I’m not exactly sure where Dunning is coming from on this. Has he not read the articles or seen the documents? Or has he seen them and just ignored them?
He believes its “time to move,” I agree and as soon as Ms. Katehi actually comes clean and explains how her name is all over documents and her subordinates were perpetrating these acts without her knowledge under her watch, I’ll move on to another scandal. But until then, I think the Chancellor has a lot of explaining to do, and unless the heat remains on the university, we will not get any kind of explanation.
—David M. Greenwald reporting