Three more lawmakers on Thursday asked embattled UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign. Most notable was Assemblymember Luis Alejo, who represents parts of Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties but is himself an alum of the UC Davis School of Law.
In a press release, Assemblymember Alejo indicated he has sent a letter to University of California President Janet Napolitano and the UC Board of Regents asking for the removal of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi after revelations Katehi engaged in outside employment that conflicted with her responsibilities to the university.
“I met with Chancellor Katehi this week and found her explanations for accepting a position on the board of a for-profit university under federal investigation for defrauding students and taking six-figure compensation for sitting on the board of a text book publisher unsatisfactory and disappointing,” Assemblymember Alejo said.
He said, “Her decision to pad her $424,360 taxpayer-funded UC salary with these outside activities is indefensible while the cost of attending a public university in California soars increasingly out of reach for our young people, many of whom must take on huge student loan debt just to get an education. I believe Chancellor Katehi’s ability to serve as an effective leader of a UC campus is compromised. To restore the public’s trust in the leadership of UC Davis and the University of California as a whole, Ms. Katehi should resign or be removed from her position as Chancellor of UC Davis.”
The Assemblymember’s comments were similar to those of Sacramento area Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who became the first last week to call for her resignation after deeming her explanation unsatisfactory.
Assemblymember Alejo was joined by Jim Cooper and Lorena Gonzales, all Democrats.
In a statement, Assemblymember Cooper wrote, “It saddens me to think that while our students are strapped with student debt to pay for the astronomical prices of college textbooks, Chancellor Katehi in a clear conflict of interest received $420,000 from the same textbook publishers that are exploiting our students.”
The Bee reports that the Assemblymember wanted to issue the statement last week, but decided to give the chancellor a chance to resign on her own. According to the Bee, Assembly spokesperson Skyler Wonnacott said, “A whole week went by and she hasn’t done anything. The assemblyman doesn’t think she has properly addressed the situation.”
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez tweeted, “Make that 5. She needs to go.”
Meanwhile, while five Assemblymembers have called for her resignation, the two legislators representing the Davis campus have stopped well short of such calls.
Last week, Senator Lois Wolk stated, “At this time, I believe calls by some for her resignation are premature.”
She did say, “These are very serious issues that jeopardize the reputation of the University of California and go beyond one chancellor, involving many in high leadership positions at the university. These issues need to be thoroughly reviewed and policies revised. Chancellor Katehi is working to restore the confidence that has been lost.”
In the meantime, in a meeting with the Vanguard editorial board, Assemblymember Bill Dodd said he was not calling for the chancellor’s resignation. Instead, he said that the legislature should look at the policy of the state of California that has allowed tuition and textbook costs to get out of hand and re-examine the laws that allow our chancellors to serve on such boards.
“I really believe that President Napolitano has a big job to do,” he told the editorial board on Thursday. “A whole bunch of bills are needed. Let’s understand what the problem is.”
He said he is neither “defending nor chastising” the chancellor. Instead, he is chastising the policy which he said is not transparent. “That’s what we expect as taxpayers of the state of California,” he said. “We need to do a deep dive into the policy and make stronger policies.”
In his letter to UC President Napolitano, Assemblymember Alejo wrote, “As a UC Davis alumnus, I believe Chancellor Katehi violated the trust of UC Davis students and the larger University of California community by accepting membership on the Board of the for-profit DeVry Education Group, the subject of a federal fraud investigation, and academic publisher John Wiley & Sons.”
“I believe her actions are a clear conflict of interest with her responsibilities to students as Chancellor of UC Davis, demonstrated a lack of good judgment and appear to violate University of California policy on outside professional activities for UC senior management, of which she is a member,” he said.
He added, “Her decision to pad her $424,360 taxpayer-funded UC salary with these outside activities is indefensible while the cost of attending a public university in California soars increasingly out of reach for our young people, many of whom must take on huge student loan debt just to get an education.”
Finally, he said, “the University of California Office of the President and the UC Board of Regents should immediately revise its policy to prohibit UC senior managers from serving in compensated outside board positions.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting