Esteemed Faculty Group Disagrees with Censure of Katehi


KatehiFacesTheCroud_11-21-11-15-1Not all of the faculty supported the decision by the Academic Senate to censure Chancellor Linda Katehi.

In a letter written by members of the UC Davis Association of the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine) they “strongly protest the resolution passed by the Executive Council of the Academic Senate to censure Chancellor Linda Katehi for her response to the Nov. 18 incident.”

They write: “It is distressing that the recommendation of the special committee calling for the resignation of the chancellor was passed solely on the basis of three votes out of the six voting members of the committee, chaired by Julia Simon, professor of French in the College of Letters and Science.”

They add, “Thus, the Executive Council and three faculty members of the special committee basically attempted to reverse the will of the majority of the Academic Senate (a body representing more than 2,600 members), who overwhelmingly supported the chancellor with a vote of confidence.”

“It would be impossible for anyone reading the May 3, cover article of The Davis Enterprise titled, ‘Faculty leaders censure Katehi,’ printed in bold letters, to fully appreciate that this is the conclusion of a small group of faculty members.”

They write, “It is not only unfair to Chancellor Katehi but it is also deceptive, inappropriate and counterproductive to the mission of UCD.”

“The campus should, of course, continue to develop policies and procedures to prevent a similar incidence from occurring in the future. However, this incident should not be used to interfere with the primary mission of the university of teaching, research and service,” they continue.

“Chancellor Katehi has initiated a bold and visionary leadership for UCD to become one of the top-tier universities in the nation, and a large majority of the UCD faculty has indicated plainly that it supports the chancellor’s leadership.”

The letter is signed by a number of esteemed faculty and researchers: Tilahun Yilma (NAS), chair of UC Davis Association of Members of the National Academies; Berni Alder (NAS); John Dewey (NAS); Emanuel Epstein (NAS); Diana Farmer (IOM); Bruce Gates (NAE); Bruce Hammock (NAS); James Hildreth (IOM); Gurdev Khush (NAS); Kenneth Kizer (IOM); Nathan Kuppermann (IOM); Stephen Kowalczykowski (NAS); Michael Lairmore (IOM); Subhash Mahajan (NAE); Alexandra Navrotsky (NAS); John Roth (NAS); Michael Savageau (IOM); Paul Singh (NAE); Thomas Schoener (NAS); Judith Stern (IOM); George Tchobanoglous (NAE); Anthony Tyson (NAS); and Donald Turcotte (NAS).

The letter is notable for its lack of condemnation of the November 18 or the damaging findings of the Reynoso/Kroll reports.

Physics Professor Daniel Cox, however, wrote strong disagreement.

He wrote, “I greatly respect my colleagues who wrote this letter but I disagree with their perspective. The views of the Special Committee and the Academic Senate Executive Council are drawn from extended study of the Reynoso and Kroll reports which were commissioned by the Office of the President.”

“The Kroll report in particular is very hard hitting on the role and responsibility of the Chancellor in the events leading to Nov. 18. I do not believe these findings, the work of the special committee, or the censure vote of the Executive Committee can be dismissed lightly, nor are they somehow trumped by the no confidence vote outcome alluded to in the letter. Given the Kroll/Reynoso reports, we have no idea how such a vote would turn out today.”

Professor Cox continues: “The rationale of the special committee’s recommendations for resignation, as I understand it, is that when a failure of leadership is sufficiently great, the appropriate action of the individual is to resign as an act of personal integrity. While the Special Committee was clearly not unanimous on this issue, the recommendation is a serious one.”

He writes: “The less severe motion of the Executive Council to censure the Chancellor is based upon the same reports and the findings of the Special Committee. The spirit of this as I understand it is similar, but the Council felt that while they had no choice but to recommend censure they did not feel the actions singled out in the Reynoso and Kroll reports justified a call for resignation.”

“Censure is censure. It is meant to send a clear message that failures of leadership require correction, and I for one hope that meaningful corrective actions are taken so that nothing like this happens at UC Davis again. It also has the connotation of some sense of disapproval or punishment. I for one, think that is appropriate given the Kroll/Reynoso findings.”

He adds, “In the Representative Assembly meeting this morning, in response to a question from Scott Shershow of English, the Chancellor admitted she regretted her choice of action in removing the tents. The most saddening aspect of this whole affair to me is that it appears the goals of the students and the Chancellor are in substantial alignment, and that different choices made in those fateful few days leading to Nov. 18 could have provided a very different outcome with a unified campus in which faculty, students, and administration were all working towards the realization of an accessible, affordable, and great public university.”

Physics Professor Markus Luty wrote, “I am a professor of physics at UC Davis. The November pepper-spray incident and its aftermath has done enormous harm to UC Davis. The Reynoso report and that of the Executive Council document the fact that this is directly due to specific failures of leadership by Katehi and others in the administration. Are there to be no consequences for the academic 1%?”

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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67 thoughts on “Esteemed Faculty Group Disagrees with Censure of Katehi”

  1. Greg Kuperberg

    One thing to understand is that probably none of the faculty named here have changed their minds since some time in November. Out of 2600 faculty, I’m sure that there are some who were truly undecided or who have switched sides since then, but my sense is that the total percentages have hardly changed. I think that the issue is deadlocked.

    That said, I was relieved to see a conciliatory statement at the end of Daniel Cox’s comment (Which is not quoted here.) I also hope that as time passes the faculty can move past this rift in opinion.

  2. 91 Octane

    I am not in complete disagreement with the censure, it may have been a good compromise to settle things down. In other words, throw a bone to the most rabid anti-Katehi voices to shut them up. But now it is time to move on. Katehi is not going to be fired, so now she needs to be given room to do her job.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    The statement Professor Kuperberg refers to is this: “I hope with more time, collaboration with students, hard administrative work, and faculty collegiality we might actually heal this rift and move forward with positive action.”

    I saw it as a less substantive statement but he saw it as conciliatory. I’m not attempting to hide anything just had a different take than Professor Kuperberg.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    As for Mr. Octane: I’m not sure that you really have standing to make the “time to move” on statement as you have often if not consistently been in the “nothing to see here” camp anyway.

  5. withconcern

    Prof. Luty makes a good point about the correlation between power and accountability. At times it is hard not to think that the more and more salaries of top UC administrators rise above those of other university employees the less and less responsibility they are willing to bear.

    As Prof Luty suggests, it is difficult not to compare this with Main St mortgages, pensions, and public institutions (like UC) evermore bearing responsibility for the irresponsible actions (and corresponding extravagant accumulation of wealth) on Wall St.

  6. 91 Octane

    As for Mr. Octane: I’m not sure that you really have standing to make the “time to move” on statement as you have often if not consistently been in the “nothing to see here” camp anyway.

    wow. and you have been in the off with their head camp, like and executioner in the bloody french revolution. does that disqualify you?

    the vanguard, in its articles on a particular subject, is like a stack of pancakes.. you want one, two, or even three……..

    you don’t want fifty.

  7. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – The idea that any administrative salary at UC looks anything like Wall Street is simply carried by people with a poor sense of proportion. Katehi is paid 19 milliRomneys. She is to Mitt Romney as a paperclip is to a meter stick.

    For that matter, every single professor named in this letter or in the comments section, or in the companion piece by Cory Golden, makes a 6-figure salary, with the sole exception of Neil McRoberts because he is an assistant professor. Administrative salaries haven’t risen “more and more” above the salaries of distinguished faculty; in fact, they have barely kept even. There is an engineering professor at UC Davis who makes almost as much as Katehi does. And that’s not counting dozens of UCD medical center faculty who make outright more.

  8. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]“The Kroll report in particular is very hard hitting on the role and responsibility of the Chancellor in the events leading to Nov. 18. I do not believe these findings, the work of the special committee, or the censure vote of the Executive Committee can be dismissed lightly, nor are they somehow trumped by the no confidence vote outcome alluded to in the letter. Given the Kroll/Reynoso reports, we have no idea how such a vote would turn out today.”[/quote]

    Then why not take a revote and find out, before making an end run around the majority decision through a small Executive Committee?

    [quote]The statement Professor Kuperberg refers to is this: “I hope with more time, collaboration with students, hard administrative work, and faculty collegiality we might actually heal this rift and move forward with positive action.” [/quote]

    The physics professor’s words about disagreeing with his colleagues and supporting the rift are hardly healing and moving toward positive action…

  9. withconcern

    “The idea that any administrative salary at UC looks anything like Wall Street is simply carried by people with a poor sense of proportion. Katehi is paid 19 milliRomneys. She is to Mitt Romney as a paperclip is to a meter stick.”

    Prof Kuperberg: Thanks for the response but I did not say of suggest that Chancellor Katehi’s paperclip is like Mitt Romney’s meter stick, nor did I say or suggest that there are not others in the university who have not also taken advantage, including some professors, as you indicate. What I did suggest was that the Chancellor’s salary has grown proportionally relative to other university employees–professors, instructors, and lower-level staff. I’m happy to be proven wrong if you can support your assertion that she has barely kept up with these other groups.

  10. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – The chancellor, provosts, and vice provosts are above all faculty leaders, and they should be people with major faculty credentials. Katehi herself is in the National Academy of Engineering, while Vice Chancellor Harris Lewin was just elected to the National Academy of Sciences. If they simply remained as faculty members, they would each be paid more than half of what they are paid. It wouldn’t make sense to ask them to serve with a pay cut. It also wouldn’t make sense to pass over faculty with their credentials just to save money on chancellors. It would be penny-wise and pound-foolish to catapult less successful faculty to the position of chancellor just to stave off salary resentment.

    So if you want to blame people for “taking advantage”, you have to blame ordinary, active senior faculty, people like me. Yes, I get paid more than a janitor. What I can tell you is that people with my general skill set get paid a lot more in private industry, while university janitors are paid quite a bit better on average than janitors in private industry. Public universities rebalance salaries quite a bit in favor of wage equality, they just don’t go all the way.

    In fact, it wouldn’t even have to be private industry. UC Davis faculty have been hired away with higher salaries by other public universities: University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, Georgia Tech. Most faculty have a special loyalty to academia in general, not so much to any one state. Many UC faculty weren’t even in born in the US, much less in California specifically. If you want UC Davis to be a public research university at all, then you can’t tell people, “Come to California! We’ll pay you less than Illinois or Texas, but you’ll feel privileged to teach Californians.”

    Of course the other answer is that you might not want UC Davis to be a research campus at all, you might want it to be like Cal State. It would be hard for me to argue against it if that’s what people want, but I don’t think it is what they want. If it truly were what they want, then I certainly wouldn’t stick around for it.

  11. withconcern

    Prof Ruperberg: You are using static internal measure to rebut my point about historical change and thus are comparing apples to oranges (or, if you prefer, meter sticks to paper clips).

    Most accounts I’ve seen suggest that the widening gap between university janitors and chancellors structurally mirrors the larger redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy that we have seen in the last 30+ years. (I won’t bore you with oft-repeated statistics, but here is one set randomly chosen by google as a reference point:

    The first question, thus, is not whether chancellors should earn more than janitors but instead whether more and more wealth should continue to be taken from janitors and given to chancellors.

    The second question you raise about academic excellence is an important one, of course, and you are right that UC is subject to market dynamics in the same way that Illinois and Texas are, but the question I posed was not whether or not UCD should be a research campus, but instead whether the redistribution of wealth from janitors to chancellors has had a further cost by positioning chancellors above accountability in the same manner that bankers have been.

    This is not something that can be proven, of course, and I tried to phrase my observation accordingly by saying “it is difficult not to compare” Chancellor Katehi’s not being held responsible with the bankers who were bailed out after travestying the global economy. (Again, this is a structural comparison–I’m not saying that the impact of the chancellor’s actions measures up to the impact of the bankers.)

    We can, of course, say that UC–even in its capacity as the greatest and most powerful public university in the world–is just struggling to do the best that it can in a competitive marketplace and so cannot be held responsible for the actions of its highest administrators or its role in the larger redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich. If we say this, however, we are more or less saying that no one is responsible. It also makes us sound an awful lot like bankers.

  12. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – UC does not take any wealth from janitors. It pays them. It pays them better than most employers pay their janitors. Even when the children of janitors attend UC, even then UC does not charge them systemwide tuition, except for those janitors with more than $80K in family income.

    Beyond that, artful phrases like “structurally mirrors” and “awful lot” display exactly the same bad sense of proportion as your very first reference to Wall Street. You could equally well say that the growth of a Saint Bernard “structurally mirrors” the growth of a blue whale or that a Saint Bernard looks “an awful lot” like a blue whale. Yes, they are both large animals, but it’s not remotely the same thing. UC has a much more equal income structure than the rest of the country does. If you took those same charts posted to Discover magazine and recalculated them with the UC payroll, they would look vastly better, night-and-day better, not even in the same ballpark.

    The perfect is the enemy of the good. In other words, when people are zealous with a poor sense of proportion, hypocrisy is lurks around the corner. For instance take the Sacramento Kings. The owner of the Sacramento Kings isn’t paid 20 milliRomneys like UC chancellors are, he’s 3 Romneys. Several of the players as well are paid 20 times as much as UC chancellors. But some of the same people who have blasted UC for its pay scale, also want a public subsidy for the Sacramento Kings.

  13. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg–sorry about the typo in your name in my last post.

    I agree with your points about UC being more equitable, about perfection as the enemy of the good, about nearby hypocrisy, about the need for good proportion, and I like your use of the Romney as a unit of extreme wealth.

    The question is really not about perfection but about good tendencies and bad. We both seem to agree that the tendencies charted by Discover apply to both UC and society at large but that the measures are substantially different.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that given that the redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich at UC is significantly more moderate it is not perfect but it still falls into the category of good whereas I am saying the tendency itself is bad (if certainly less bad than in society more broadly).

    Using your helpful language I would say the tendency is bad because it tends toward bad proportion. In this regard, I fall in with the theory of good proportion shared by most Americans as represented in the third Discover graphic under the heading “What they would like it to be” and cannot but think that any movement away from something in the general ballpark of that proportion as bad.

    Just to be clear, my sense is that this tendency is bad not just because it is unfair. Without arguing the point here (if you will allow an unsupported assertion), I take it to be bad for academic excellence, economic growth, and, of course, social mobility and social harmony. In short I take that tendency to be un-American and at odds with UC’s own lofty principles (among other characterizations).

  14. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – While I agree that university payroll ought to be shaped by proper ethics and by some sense of social concern, you cannot really expect a university to solve every problem for everyone. We’re not an independent country, we’re just a university. Income inequality between janitors and public university chancellors is a problem to solve with progressive taxes. It would be different if UC were a market outlier on the high side, but if anything, it’s already low-balling the market for public research university faculty and administrators.

    If US universities formed a cartel and capped senior faculty and management salaries collectively, then conceivably income inequality would be very slightly better. But it might also be slightly worse, both because universities have to compete with computer companies and biotech, and because some of the families who pay tuition are wealthier than the people getting paid. Whenever people talk about tuition increases, they shouldn’t talk as if financial aid doesn’t exist.

    Short of that, it certainly doesn’t help academic excellence at UC if Californians blast below-the-median as still way too high. The way that the University of California became the best public university in America in the 20th century was by making competitive offers to distinguished faculty.

  15. Mr.Toad

    “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln

    With each passing day we see more and more faculty taking sides. How sad for the University. The question I have is how long can this go on before Yudolf and the regents have had enough?

  16. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: I’m all for appropriate tax policy but I would hate for that to be used as an excuse for the great and powerful (at least within the limited domain of higher ed!) U of California to not be responsible for its own compensation policies. Like voting or not littering, the exercise of such responsibility is a drop in the bucket, as you suggest, but that does not mean that we do not want to do our part.

    I’ll have to disagree with you that the cause of UC’s excellence is high wages. Other universities do try to buy excellence–USC comes to mind–but UC’s success has to be attributed elsewhere, at least in significant measure, since historically it has never been fully competitive with top private universities on salary. Some leading faculty and, at least in the past, some highly regarded administrators have been committed to UC in significant measure because of the public mission. An old fashioned idea, I know..

  17. Mr.Toad

    “I’ll have to disagree with you that the cause of UC’s excellence is high wages.”

    Hey it works for the Yankees.

    You think maybe its the climate?

  18. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – I didn’t say “high” wages and I didn’t say “top private universities”. All I said was competitive, by which I meant competitive with other public universities. And, while I didn’t elaborate on this point, I meant that UC had a long period of competitive salaries in the past, from roughly 1900 to roughly 1970, that was one factor that it needed to build up its reputation over time. If the salaries are no longer competitive, then UC might still have a high reputation for a while, but the cork will be out of the bottom of the tub.

    It’s not like the Yankees, because the Yankees have top salaries. UC was never like that and never will be. The question is whether it needs to be like the San Diego Padres, i.e., the last ones on the list.

    It’s a lot like buying a house in Davis. $1.5 million would be a top price for a house in Davis. $800k would be a high price for a house in Davis. $400k is only a competitive price in Davis, and it’s not all that competitive. If you are a skilled shopper, then you might still find a house in Davis for $400k. If you demanded only $200K for a house in Davis, which is what some people have in mind for UC chancellors, you’d be lucky to find an actual, livable house.

    What would you say if you paid $400k for a house in Davis in 2012, and your spouse said: “$400k? That high??? It may not be Hearst Castle, but it’s still tarnished judgment on your part. No one should have to pay that much for a house in Davis. I wish that you would show more responsibility, instead of buying like you’re the New York Yankees.”

  19. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – It is not true that more and more faculty take sides with each passing day. Most of the faculty who were ever going to take sides, took sides in November. Yes, it was divisive. But the idea that divisiveness is as much of a show stopper as actual no confidence — as it happens there is a lot of support for Katehi among the majority of the faculty and the 30% or so minority won’t prevail by that method. If there were some new fiasco and minority opposition becomes majority opposition, then it would be different.

    I was interested to see by the way that you take a great common-sense position re the Davis City Council. I’m not privy to inside baseball and I certainly don’t know who you are. It’s an interesting contrast, that you’re instead taking a populist position with university affairs.

  20. Mr.Toad

    Thank you Greg.

    I spent a lot of time doing nonviolence civil disobedience training during the 80’s. I know how the statement is supposed to go. Katehi failed, in my view, the day after when she sent out an email to the community that didn’t condemn the actions of Pike. I’m pretty stuck on that.

    In the 90’s when the redwood wars were really hot I remember the loggers were beating up people in the woods, one guy, David Chain was killed by a logger who hit him with a tree. I remember listening to a spokesperson for Pacific Lumber, a person I knew, not condemn the violence on previous occasions before someone got killed. She would say things like well you know this is the time of year that these workers make most of their money. She would leave off the but we don’t condone such violence part.

    Katehi did the same thing and she lost me just as that P.L spokesman did in the 90’s.

    The Asian Studies group came out recently, the NSF profs did on the other side. This is not a good debate to have. Its not just academic. Its divisive, its not good for the institution.

  21. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – Let me note that just like a lot of people, you made up your mind within 24 hours of the incident. I’m also not excluding myself, I mostly made up my mind in November as well (although not within 24 hours).

    I agree that the pepper spray incident was a piece of political pornography that provoked a lot of people. Including, I happen to know, at least a few faculty who chose not to ask Katehi to resign. However, I don’t think that it’s proportionate to relate it to the redwood wars. In a case that was cited for comparison, some of the tree protesters were pepper sprayed — but it wasn’t a splash or two in the face, the police painted their eyes with pepper spray using Q-tips for an hour. Between that and a protester getting killed, not to mention spiked trees and exploding bombs, that is a much bigger and more extreme confrontation than anything in Davis.

    But also, Katehi herself never asked for pepper spray or (as far as I know) even knew that the UCDPD had pepper spray. Instead, an aggravated Officer Pike apparently decided that he had been set up to fail and that he might as well do it in style. Yes, it took her more than 24 hours to regroup, throw out everything that Spicuzza had told her, and properly apologize. I don’t think that it’s in the university’s interest to evaluate this with a 24-hour time limit.

    The letter from the Asian American Studies department is about the bank protest, not the pepper spray incident. The bank protest is a very different ball of wax, even if you have vaguely the same ideologies on both sides. I don’t know about the humanities, but far fewer science faculty are accusing the administration over the bank protests. Even among many staunch progressives, at least those who are guided by number sense, the bank protests are a non-starter. Some science and engineering faculty are rallying for the “banker’s dozen”, but clearly far fewer.

    In fact I just published a guest editorial in the Aggie on that topic.

  22. Mr.Toad

    What I learned is when there is violence you walk it back. It doesn’t take a do over to understand that. By walking it back you reduce the chances of it happening again. I wasn’t comparing the redwood wars to Pike I was just using it as an example.

    I have never said Katehi should be fired although I have said she should probably resign after the Kroll, Reynoso and Academic Senate Special Committee reports came out. Before that I figured Pike went rouge and if Katehi could continue to bring in hundreds of millions there was no way she was going anywhere. If anything it probably helped her get the biggest corporations to give more to UCD because they understand the yoke of oppression must be fed. The trouble is that things seem to continue to divide the campus, the bank nonsense is only the latest, but once again we see it dividing the University community. I hope you would agree that this descension is not good for the institution. Even as you claim a 70-30 split, while not enough to dislodge her, is still a bad morale situation. The problem is where is the tipping point and when will the UC leadership question their ability to stay the course.

    One other thing, I find Katehi’s taking of responsibility without consequence so Bush era. Shouldn’t there be some penalty for her admitted failures?

  23. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – We also had a vote of no confidence under Vanderhoef and that was also 70-30. That was a more sedate situation, but the percentages were the same. So this degree of dissension is nothing new.

    But…”the yoke of oppression must be fed”? That’s just over the top. The most recent big ticket donation (in December, just one month after pepper spray day) was $10 million for an art museum donated by Jan Shrem and Manetti Farrow. Now, I don’t know that Shrem and Farrow are rich for any more than accidental reasons. Shrem is a vintner and Farrow sells some high-end food products. That doesn’t move me one way or the other. But they didn’t donate this money because of any yoke of oppression, they just wanted a museum.

  24. Mr.Toad

    Okay I just threw that in but it would be interesting to note if any of the big financial interests that Katehi has courted increased their giving in the wake of the flood. I’m thinking of corporations on a scale of the California Business Roundtable. Groups like Bank of America, Chevron, AT&T, and Irvine Co. Since many people have suggested a causal link between retaining Katehi and her fundraising it would be interesting to see if the greatest beneficiaries of our economic structure have stepped up to protect her as the manager responsible for the drive to reduce the public funding of UCD, commonly called privatization.

    It should be noted that Katehi herself recognized this link when asked if she would resign claimed she wanted to continue to work towards her goal of raising $1 Billion for UCD and noted that she had already raised $700 Million.

    Anyway Greg, what about that responsibility/consequences thing? Doesn’t that have the feel of fingernails on the chalkboard. i mean what is the solution to F(x)=? on that one? is it 1/x as x goes to infinity in seconds or what?

  25. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – First of all, you’re falling back to the same false model of what a chancellor does, that the office of the chancellor is simply the office of responding to protesters and begging for donations. That way you can conclude that anyone who doesn’t demand justice must simply be greedy. For the record, yes, two duties of a chancellor are to respond to protesters and to raise money. But the main reason that she has majority faculty support is her decisions on resource allocation and who she has hired to other key positions.

    Second, the best way to respond to your quest for “consequences” is to draw your attention to Fred Wood. Not Wood instead of Katehi, but rather Katehi, Meyer, and Wood together. There is no logical way to demand that Katehi resign without also demanding that Wood and Meyer resign. That’s why the special committee voted for a purge of all three of them. Now you happen to know Fred Wood. Do you really think that it makes sense to ignore his entire record of service and demand that he fall on his sword, just to see heads roll?

  26. Mr.Toad

    Greg, she admitted that she is responsible, asking that she accept consequences is different than saying she should be fired. In fact, it suggests that an entire range of possibilities exist. Just like Wood and Meyer or Clover ( for his bank charge) or any subordinate you would expect some form of progressive discipline before firing held as a last resort for failure to adapt to the accepted norms of the institution.

    Not that it is up to me to decide her punishment but I would be happy with some form of community service, maybe at a soup kitchen or someplace public, where she could get a photo op and a headline about serving her penalty. I think it would put a great deal of controversy to rest and humanize her in the community.

    As long as she is not subject to consequences and remains sequestered in the ivory tower at Mrak she looks like she is above the law or in the case of the university its principles of community. As long as that remains the case low morale and lack of harmony will continue to dog the institution.

  27. Greg Kuperberg

    Mr. Toad – But punishment is not the way that we do things as an employer. In my entire time here at UC Davis, I do not remember seeing any employee get punished. I have seen employees get warned and I have seen employees get fired, and that’s it. The principle is that the employee is either the right person for the job or not. If the employee is still the right person for the job, then punishment is the wrong type of incentive.

    That certainly does go for Joshua Clover. I think that it was grossly unprofessional for Clover to encourage students to break the law. But the most that I would ask for is censure, not material punishment. Because there is no material punishment short of firing him. I wouldn’t interfere with the English department’s autonomy on that point, and even if I were in the English department, I would not say that Clover has done enough to lose tenure.

    The Yolo County justice system does mete out punishments. They were ordered by the governor to investigate the pepper spray incident for that very purpose. If they decide that Pike or Katehi or anyone in between should be punished, then they have their avenues to act on that decision.

  28. Mr.Toad

    Fair enough Greg. I think we are as close to understanding each other as we can get. Still i think it would be good for the institution for the reasons I stated for her to offer her own consequence since she offered her own declaration of taking responsibility. I don’t suggest some opus dei type of self flagellation but as I stated some humanizing demonstration of contrition that would help put this thing to bed. It feels as if she is searching for it but has yet to hit the mark. Maybe in time she will find it and regain the respect of the community. I know I would like her to earn my respect once again but it will not be easy for me to forgive her. I think that is what I am looking for something that makes us all say okay that is enough we forgive you. Is it too much to ask?

  29. Greg Kuperberg

    No it’s not too much to ask. In my opinion which is shared by others, we’ve already been there. On the weekend after November 18, I certainly thought that Katehi needed to clear the air with an apology and some form of restitution. The apology came on Monday. After that Katehi provided Thanksgiving food for the protesters, if I remember correctly paid from her own pocket. She also provided portolets and campus security in assistance mode.

    After that the campus was split between people who thought that they had seen that humanizing demonstration of contrition, and people who stayed angry. That’s always the way that it goes with apologies and contrition.

  30. David M. Greenwald


    I’ve come to appreciate your perspective here and you are more in the middle than I at least recognized.

    Nevertheless, I would add that while all of what you say is fine and good, it was not until Wednesday of this week, nearly six moths later, that she finally started to articulate what went wrong.

    I understand there are those who feel like the demand is for a pound of flesh and on the other hand, some people will never be satisfied with anything short of resignation, but from a practical matter it did me no good to hear her say that she was taking full responsibility until I understand just what her understanding of that is. Now that at least that part is on the table, we can at least move from that point

  31. Greg Kuperberg

    David – First of all, if she started to articulate what went wrong, then the phrase “moving target” was out of place.

    Katehi made clear why she waited to give her version of all of the details: Because she wanted a convincingly independent report, Kroll-Reynoso, to come first. She wanted an independent assessment instead of a quarrel between her and her detractors.

    Kroll-Reynoso was as unsparing as an independent report ever gets. But for all that, the report did not convert 100% blame into 500% blame. There was Pike, Spicuzza, Wood, Meyer, and Katehi. There was just not enough blame left over to conclude that Katehi should resign. Instead, the main conclusion, which Katehi apparently realized on Sunday November 20th, is that Spicuzza had set up everyone else to fail.

    Speaking of setting up people to fail, the whole point of civil disobedience is, “either the system heeds our just cause, or we set them up to fail”. A major source of disagreement is that some faculty think that the protesters have a just cause — and they tend to lump them together with all students. Most of us think that the protesters have half of a just cause, padded with a lot of bad logic. If you’re faced with civil disobedience and the protesters are right, then it’s all very simple, you should just do what they want. If the protesters don’t make sense, yet still have some public support, then the decisions at the top are not in fact a cakewalk.

  32. withconcern

    “After that the campus was split between people who thought that they had seen that humanizing demonstration of contrition, and people who stayed angry.”

    While there may indeed be a group satisfied by humanizing demonstrations of conviction, in my experience anger would not be the best way to describe the rest of us. Such an emotional response would indeed be part of it (just as satisfaction is for others), of course, but the main issue for those not satisfied concerns her capacity to do her job. Even though it focuses more on UCOP than UCD, this piece can probably be taken as a characteristic performance evaluation:

  33. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – In the middle of Mark LeVine’s wide-ranging polemic, he accuses US Bank of “profiteering” at UC. I studied the matter and I found no evidence that US Bank “profiteers” by any method other than the one used by Pizza Hut. You can’t use a US Bank card to pay tuition at any UC campus other than UCLA, and they also recently stopped issuing student loans.

    On this point and many others, LeVine seems to think that the truth needs help. His attitude is not shared by a majority of UC or UC Davis faculty.


  34. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: I thing I am going to have to agree with your respondent Common Jane: Students are going evermore deeply into debt with ever-higher tuition and banks profit from debt, whether it is student debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, or whatever. US Bank’s decision to default on their contract with UCD coincides with their decision to get out of the student loan market. This may only be a happy coincidence, of course, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t targeting a market, and one that has been made particularly vulnerable by the privatization of formerly-public higher ed. Chasing after such markets would seem to be a significant part of their general business plan:

  35. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – Actually, the main profit that this bank branch had in mind was based on equity, not debt. That’s the difference between a credit card and a debit card. In the case of a debit card, the bank makes money from transactions. Now of course, a student can still be profligate with a debit card, but in the case of US Bank at Davis, only by spending money that’s NOT spent on tuition. You would have to argue that paying tuition with a check is some sort of brain-numbing experience that makes students more likely to go out and blow wads on the debit card. That’s not a credible story. Students are more likely to spend money on a debit card when they have more money to spend.

  36. withconcern

    “Besides, whether the card is debit or credit, the first and main profit comes from the transaction fee, not the equity or debt itself. I have a credit card which has yielded my bank a lot of money in transaction fees, but never even one cent in interest fees.”

    Prof Kuperberg: yes, you are certainly right that there are many ways to take advantage of the increasingly vulnerable population of students. The New York Times piece would seem to have the tactic right when they explain how the poor and the vulnerable are an important growth market for US Bank:

    “Reaching the so-called unbanked or underbanked population — people who use few, if any, bank services — could be lucrative, industry consultants said. Kimberly Gartner, vice president for advisory services at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, said that such borrowers were a $45 billion untapped market.”

    The untapped $45 billion is not born of newly created wealth, of course, but instead is money that would have gone to some other purpose–supporting one’s family, say, or shopping at Target, or paying off one’s student loans. It doesn’t really matter whether that $45 billion comes from debit cards or credit cards, from shopping at Target or paying off their debt to UCD. Any old which way it is money going to banks as a result of privatization. UCD faculty benefit from this expropriation of funds from their students, of course, but it it would appear be a case of winning the battle and losing the war..

  37. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – I really don’t see how UC Davis or US Bank has done anything wrong when a student shops at Target. No one on campus sent them there; they shop at Target when they want to shop at Target. The prices are also exactly the same no matter how you pay. What does this have to do with “vulnerability”? The students are legal adults, not babies who can’t be trusted to buy clothes.

    The fact is that students have more money to shop at Target when tuition is low than when tuition is high. Consider this statement at this “Davis Dozen” web site: “Banks love student loans, the only kind of debt you can’t default on.” As a justification for the blockade of US Bank, this is garbage. US Bank stopped issuing student loans. Changing the subject to Target makes for a completely different accusation, as well as another failed accusation.

    How do you buy clothes anyway?

  38. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: I did not change the subject to Target, I followed your changing the subject from interest to transaction fees as a source of profit for banks.

    Yes, the government is responding to past abuses by applying some minimal (and, apparently, ineffective) bandaids causing US Bank and others to withdraw their minimal share from the student loan market:

    My point, however, was about debt and vulnerability. It seems like we just disagree about whether skyrocketing student debt is a problem for students and universities. The pieces in the NY and LA Times this morning might serve as a reference point:,0,3970087.story

    It sounds like you believe that those of us raising concerns about the higher ed economy and its winners (banks, chancellors, the highest paid of your colleagues, etc) and losers (middle-class students and their families) are treating students like babies rather than legal adults.

    This is like arguments made by the tobacco and fast food industries–legal adults have the power and responsibility to say “thanks, but no thanks” to cigarettes, McDonalds, and higher education. The usual objection to this kind of reasoning is that it disregards all sorts of significant external factors for the sake of moral(istic) clarity. All the evidence indicates that it is also clearly at odds with the best interest of California and the public interest more broadly.

  39. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – Exactly: US Bank’s share of student loans was minimal. So minimal that they were just as happy to make it zero in the future.

    No, we do not disagree about whether skyrocketing student debt is a problem. From the beginning, I agreed or would have agreed that it’s a problem. We disagree about appropriate ways to cast blame. Skyrocketing student debt is a problem, but not because of US Bank. If these protesters blame US Bank for skyrocketing student debt, then they could blame anyone. They could blame immigrants and blockade the immigration office. They could blame me and blockade my classes.

    There is exactly one place where their blame should go, and that’s the state legislature. But they would much rather cast blame where they can get away with it, rather than where it actually deserves to fall. Apparently Mark LeVine is another joker who thinks the same way.

  40. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: I’m sure the protesters, LeVine and other jokers would be happy to cast blame on the state legislators but, at best, they are only the middlemen. You are right to suggest that they have done their part to enable the massive redistribution of wealth from losers (the middle class) to winners (the super rich) but to assume that the winners have not played a determining role influencing that process is naive at best.

    I agree that lobbying politicians to refuse the influence of big money is an appropriate thing to do but I don’t hold out much hope for it being effective. If you agree with this assessment and you agree that student debt is a problem and you do not think university-banking arrangements should be protested, then the floor is yours to suggest alternative approaches to addressing the problem.

  41. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – I don’t know how to solve the problem, and given some of the opposing political forces — which are certainly not as simple as some conspiracy of the superrich — from the vantage points of university faculty, I’m not sure that there is a solution. But I know how NOT to solve the problem, and that is what Mark LeVine is doing. I say that the problem is state budget cuts. But that’s not how LeVine puts it. In his words, the problem is that “ego and ideology are destroying the world’s greatest public university”. If the state electorate or the state legislature or whoever hears that the problem is ego and ideology rather than budget cuts, then you can certainly expect more budget cuts.

  42. David M. Greenwald

    Greg: Here’s the problem, just as it angered people to see Wall Street executives getting huge bonuses despite tax payer bailouts, it angers people to see record high tuition at the same time those at the top are getting top compensation. You can argue that the numbers are not as high in UC as they are on Wall Street, but that matters not. Just as you can argue that the amount of money that UC executives are being paid has nothing to do with how much tuition one is getting. The problem that you run into with those arguments is the same problem you had with the city council getting a raise or Superintendent Roberson getting $15,000 to get his doctorate, it matters symbolically to many. The top people should not be profiting at a time when those at the bottom are suffering – causal linkage or not. You’re argument otherwise is tantamount to “let them eat cake.”

  43. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: I understand LeVine’s argument to be that ego and ideology are preventing UC leadership from fulfilling their primary responsibilities–leadership on behalf of the best interests of UC and advocacy with legislators and citizens based on that leadership. Instead they simply accept the directive to privatize coming from legislators and conceive of their jobs as managing that privatization.

    Not sure about conspiracies but I do tend to subscribe to the old investigative journalist’s approach of following the money.

    It seems like you are putting in a lot of effort here, in the Aggie, etc if there are no solutions and the problem is just a few idealistic college kids spinning their wheels together with the odd joker prof, no?

  44. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – The problem is the state budget cuts and it’s quite clear that UC adminsitration is not the reason that they happened. It’s clear because at CSU there has been vastly less so-called “privatization”, rather CSU takes it on the chin and begs. That hasn’t spared them from budget cuts or criticism at all. Instead both the students and the faculty flame a fairly skeletal administration. As I’ve said before, I can’t tell you how relieved I am to work for UC instead of CSU.

    I wouldn’t say that [b]the[/b] problem is the students and professors who fall off the deep end. But it is [b]a[/b] problem, it doesn’t make anything better.

  45. Greg Kuperberg

    David – I am well aware that there are many people in the world who don’t know or don’t care about specific numbers. They may see numbers, they may have learned arithmetic, but in the end it all gets reduced to “large”, “small”, and “medium”. If I point out that a UC chancellor is paid 20 milliRomneys, you’re absolutely right that many people don’t care about the difference, to them the salary of either Katehi or Romney is “large”.

    It’s why people play the lottery. The chance of winning is “small”, the payout is “large”, and small times large equals medium, so why not go for it. I despise the lottery for exploiting people’s stupidity, in fact I was on local TV to make that very point. I am well aware that many people will never listen to me.

    My haven of sanity is a research university where people reshape their emotions with mathematics. Provided that they are willing to learn in the classroom rather that out in some parade. Again, I know that the message is not for everyone. I can respond to people who do not take mathematics seriously in one of two ways. I can either repeat the honest message of mathematics, or I can say, !@#$ you, I don’t care if you don’t understand money. I’m not cynical enough to always do the latter.

  46. David M. Greenwald

    But I think you are still missing the point. If an owner lays off a number of employees, including you, and at the same time take a nice but ultimately insignificant pay increase, you are still likely to have a great deal of anger directed towards that individual. Even though you probably lose your job regardless, it still is an inequity and that’s what has happened here.

  47. Greg Kuperberg

    David – Either people know where to lay blame, or they blame messengers and bystanders. Arithmetic is often the heart of the matter and the best I can do is explain it honestly. I’m not going to pretend that people are right when they’re not, just because they are angry.

  48. David M. Greenwald

    You’re missing a point here. The problem at hand is to understand why people are angry. If you are going to argue that people are not justified in that anger or misplacing it, to a large degree that is a subjective view that you are attempting to attach detached objectivism to. And that is not going to work well, particularly now.

  49. Greg Kuperberg

    Let me put it this way. I understand why people are angry. I would not be able to cater to incorrect mathematics if I tried. I do not believe in red logic and blue logic, only logic. I cannot make myself think that way, any more than a doctor could break the Hippocratic oath when a patient angrily demands the wrong medical treatment. And that does not make me a robot. I am as human as anyone else, I have emotions, I only want them to have a sound basis.

  50. Greg Kuperberg

    Because, on top of the other reasons, when people take stock in bad arithmetic, hypocrisy is just around the corner. Roberson may be paid well, but he’s nothing like the Sacramento Kings. Roberson is paid 9 milliRomneys, the owner of the Kings is three Romneys. Roberson isn’t even in the top 1%; Maloof is in the top 0.01%. Maloof is the 1% within the 1%.

    Yet some of the same people who are chagrined about Roberson’s refund, wanted a taxpayer subsidy for the Sacramento Kings. If they explicitly reject arithmetic as the basis of reason, then I’m not going to call that kind of thing an innocent mistake.

  51. withconcern

    “I wouldn’t say that the problem is the students and professors who fall off the deep end. But it is a problem, it doesn’t make anything better.”

    Prof Kuperberg: With all due respect it would seem that you’ve abandoned mathematics for punditry. The numbers are clear (we can use the same arbitrarily chosen source: You’ve worked very hard to dismiss those who honor mathematics by calling attention to these numbers, most recently because some apparently don’t distinguish between the rich and the superrich. Put in mathematical terms the distinction between Roberson’s 1% and Maloof’s .01% is more significant for you than the distinction between the 99% and the 1%. I can’t imagine anything that caters to incorrect mathematics more than this..

  52. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – No, what I said is that Roberson is [b]not[/b] in the top 1%. He’s in the yellow curve in that second chart.

    In all of this discussion, it’s not enough to honor numbers. You also have to honor them correctly.

  53. withconcern

    Prof Kupersberg: understood, so then your calculation is–even at the bottom of the top 20%, making under a $100k/yr–the difference between the top 20% and the top .01% is more significant than the difference between the top 20 and the bottom 80. Again, this would seem to be the very definition of incorrect mathematics.

  54. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – That’s exactly right, the difference between the top 0.01% and the top 20% is far and away more significant and more disturbing than the difference between the top 20% and the bottom 80%. As the second chart at Discover shows, the income difference between the top 20% and the bottom 80% hasn’t widened very much. Income in the top 1% has skyrocketed, and income in the top 0.01% (if they had charted it) has just about escaped into orbit.

    Roberson makes about as much money as 3 average DJUSD teachers. Maloof makes about as much money as the entire DJUSD school district. The top 0.01%, even though they are just 14,000 households, receive about 5% of all of the income in America. The Maloofs and Romneys of America are indeed the real problem with growing income inequality. It isn’t the Robersons.

  55. withconcern

    “As the second chart at Discover shows, the income difference between the top 20% and the bottom 80% hasn’t widened very much.”

    Prof Kuperberg: The chart indicates that the top 20% has a 30% increase in share of income and the bottom 20% a 30% decrease. Most mathematicians and others would characterize that as a significant widening in numbers alone.

    When you add in what those numbers mean–say, access to education, health care, and enough leisure time and other basic amenities to live healthfully–then the numbers become far more significant. Mathematically, this can be registered in things like blood pressure, divorce rates, and SAT scores.

    Insofar as one can live a healthy life on $100k per year, the difference between the top 20% and the top .01% is bling and control over politicians. The difference between the top 20% and the bottom 20% cuts much closer to life and death matters of day-to-day wellbeing–such, at least, is what the mathematics would tell us.

  56. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – Yes, that’s exactly it, that’s exactly why it is such a waste that 20% of the income in the country goes to the top 1%. They don’t have any meaningful way to spend the money. All that they can use it for is bling and political control. They also pass it on to descendants so that they will never have to do any work either; they will have their own bling and their own political control. You’ve hit the bullseye; that’s the valid argument against the top 1%.

    Roberson is nothing like this. He’s paid more because he has high qualifications, but not so super much more. He still has useful ways to spend his income. And if you want to argue that Roberson should still help the poor, guess what, he already does. Roberson pays taxes at a higher rate than Maloof. Roberson helps run a school district that gives its service away for free to the poorest residents. Maloof owns a casino. Maloof’s empire grows fat by cheating naive gamblers, who are disproportionately lower income people.

  57. withconcern

    “it is such a waste that 20% of the income in the country goes to the top 1%”

    Prof Kuperberg: look at the first chart again–it is much greater than 20%. Here is another randomly chosen account:

    In 1960, the top 1% of Americans held just 10% of our entire Nation’s wealth. Today, the top 1% of American’s hold over 40% of our Nation’s entire wealth. Even more, the top 5% of American’s now hold 63.5% of our entire Nation’s wealth.

    I don’t care about Maloof and Roberson but I do feel grateful that there are students and others out there who are brave enough to try to do something about it. In my view, saying that there is nothing that can be done about it doesn’t get any of us off the hook.

  58. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – That’s not the same “it”. Just as you quoted me, the top 1% earn about 20% of the [b]income[/b] in the country. It’s also true that they own about 40% of the [b]assets[/b] — that is what the Discover posting means by the confusing term “wealth”.

    It’s nice that the protesters want to do something about income inequality. But would be much better if they wanted to do something useful. There is no telling them that they’re doing it wrong.

  59. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: Yes, assets are only income when liquidated. You’ll forgive me if casting the issue in terms of income rather than wealth seems like mathematical obscurantism in this case.

    If I cam summarize in conclusion, it seems that your aim has been to correct the foolishness of a few idealistic students and a couple of odd jokers like myself who support them. Mine, if you’ll allow a somewhat grandiose characterization, has been more an effort of conversion from darkness to light (if, of course, for a similarly limited pool).

    Darkness, in this case, is acknowledging that there has been a massive redistribution of wealth that has grossly disenfranchised the public and its institutions (such as UCD) and then sanctioning that redistribution by not only using the authority of your office to say that there is nothing that can be done but also by using well-trained intellectual resources (trained at public expense?) to criticize the efforts of others rather than proposing alternative solutions yourself.

    Light, on the other hand, would be to use the power of mathematics to expose the real chicanery of the Maloofs of this world rather than squandering it to undermine the best efforts to do that job for you by kids from your classroom. Of course, this would mean picking on the rich and powerful rather than the young and vulnerable, but some of us at least take such a task to be mathematics’ true calling.

  60. Greg Kuperberg

    The protesters are too busy blasting campus administrators to expose anyone like George Maloof. They also haven’t taken any of my classes. They are too busy learning economics from English professors.

  61. withconcern

    My thought was not that the protestors expose Maloof and his ilk but rather that you do so instead of squandering your valuable intellectual resources (and the public’s valuable investment in your education?) on a few kids responding out of fear about what the future holds for them and their families. They may be too busy blasting chancellors and banks but it seems you are too busy blasting students.

  62. Greg Kuperberg

    withconcern – Rest assured that I spend time on my day job. As for the protesters, if all they did was verbally “blast” chancellors and bank branches, I would have nothing to say. What they’re actually doing is punishing the university with financial liabilities. And they’re doing it because they have too little concern for their own future, not too much.

  63. withconcern

    Prof Kuperberg: you have indicated that nothing can be done about the massive and increasing disenfranchisement of students, the middle class, and middle class institutions like UC that is a consequence of the ongoing wealth redistribution. The students are trying to do something by calling out those who benefit from that disenfranchisement beginning with chancellors and bankers because they are immediately available beneficiaries and responsible parties for economic policies and practices affecting students that usually get lumped under the heading “privatization”. These policies and practices when generalized to a larger social pattern are the means and mechanisms of the redistribution of wealth that has put UC and its students in the bind that they are now. The administration has chosen to combat the student effort to challenge this trend using costly military and legal means rather than assuming common cause on behalf of UC and its students. It would be a bold move for the administrators to support student protesters, the middle class, and middle class institutions like UCD rather than all the interests that benefit from privatization but, as perhaps your sense that nothing will change indicates, its not likely.

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