While California State Assemblymember Kevin McCarty drew attention with calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign after acknowledging her joining boards of for-profit education group DeVry as well as a textbook publisher, his counterpart in the California State Senate, Richard Pan, said on Saturday that, while he thinks it was “poor judgment,” he thinks Ms. Katehi is “an able chancellor” who, among other things, raised enrollment, increased research funding and raised the profile of UC Davis.
“The Chancellor showed poor judgment in accepting a board position with DeVry, and UC should reexamine its policy of permitting university chancellors to receive compensation as board members of for-profit corporations,” Senator Pan said. “However, her contributions to UC Davis and our region should be the primary consideration regarding her continued tenure as chancellor.”
“I take my responsibilities as Chancellor of UC Davis, and to the entire University of California, very seriously and sincerely regret having accepted service on boards that create appearances of conflict with my deep commitment to serve UC Davis and its students,” Ms. Katehi said in a statement released late Friday.
Ms. Katehi added, “I have resigned from the DeVry board and intend to donate all the stock proceeds I made from serving on the John Wiley and Sons board to a scholarship fund for UC Davis students. I look forward to continuing to serve the UC community.”
That is not good enough for Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who represents parts of Sacramento and also West Sacramento.
On Friday at midday he issued a statement calling for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s resignation and announcing legislative hearings.
“Recently, I met with UC Davis Chancellor Katehi regarding her recent resignation to the DeVry Education Group’s Board and other campus issues. After this meeting, her rationale for associating with DeVry has left me unsatisfied and contradicts her job to run a public university and educate our students. Further, a subsequent revelation of another sweetheart deal with text book publishers earned her an additional $420,000 from 2012-2014,” he said.
He continued, “This has driven my level of dissatisfaction even higher.”
As the Assemblymember points out, “Chancellor Katehi receives a taxpayer and tuition funded salary of $424,360. It is unseemly for the Chancellor to be moonlighting side deals to fatten her bank account, especially when it runs contrary to the interests of our students that are strapped with decades of student debt to pay the high costs of text books and other education expenses.”
“Therefore,” he said, “today I am calling for the resignation of Chancellor Katehi and am announcing legislative hearings to look into this matter across all three segments of higher education.”
Chairing the Assembly Higher Education Committee is Assemblymember Jose Medina. He also called for oversight hearings as the legislature considers UC funding.
“Chancellor Katehi’s paid positions with private, for-profit corporations raise important questions about UC’s conflict of interest and outside employment policies,” he said in a statement. “This information is particularly concerning in light of the positive strides that the state has made to increase funding for the system.”
What seems interesting is that, while Assemblymember McCarty and Senator Pan have both weighed in, the two legislators who represent the home base of the campus, Assemblymember Bill Dodd and Senator Lois Wolk, have been silent to date.
The question is whether Ms. Katehi can survive what the Davis Enterprise calls “another misstep.” As they note, and quite correctly, “For an undoubtedly intelligent and accomplished woman, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi sure seems to have a penchant for tone-deaf publicity blunders.”
My first reaction was, what was she thinking?
The Enterprise notes that Ms. Katehi was “elected to the Wiley board in September 2011, two months before the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators plunged UCD into chaos. Katehi’s actions in the build-up to the crisis seemed out of touch and ill-conceived. Was her mind elsewhere?”
The Enterprise wrote, “At the time, we urged patience with a relatively new administrator dealing with an unforeseen emergency. And we withheld criticism when she hired a communications director for $260,000 a year at a time when every dime the university spends is under scrutiny.”
But they say, “missteps are starting to pile up,” and these leave “an indelible blemish on the reputation of the University of California.”
They write, “UC is in a precarious state with the Legislature, featuring yearly battles over funding and enrollment. UCD, and the University of California system as a whole, cannot afford to have a leader whose ethical compass is consistently pointing in the wrong direction. Katehi needs to find her bearings, and soon.”
The chancellor has done a lot of good things. For all of the heat that she got with regard to the pepper-spray incident, the UC Davis police department was a problem for years. Bringing in Matt Carmichael, along with several systems of police oversight, will help.
The university has been starting to flex its muscle on research and technology transfer. A lot of the vision for university expansion has come from Linda Katehi.
At the same time, many in the Davis community are concerned that expansions in enrollment are leading to growth pressures that the university has been slow to address and largely unwilling to work with the community on.
Like everything, there is a balance of good and frustrating with the chancellor. How a public university chancellor making over $400,000 needs to find other sources of revenue is not likely to sit well with students burdened with higher tuition and increasingly onerous college loans.
The divide that the chancellor was trying to close just two weeks ago, being responsive to the concerns of African American students, has been re-opened with issues that appear to show greed and lack of basic common sense. Just how many lessons can be learned before there are serious consequences?
—David M. Greenwald reporting