Faculty Letter Laments Sexism, Implicit Bias, and “Single Storyism” in Coverage of UCD Controversies

ucdavis-campusThe Vanguard has received copies of some campus communications from the Academic Senate.

In a letter from current Academic Senate Chair Andre Knoesen, he notes that “there are ongoing concerns about administrative growth at UC Davis. After consultation with the Executive Council, I am appointing a task force. I will specifically ask this Task Force to compare the administrative growth at UC Davis relative to the core instructional missions of the campus.”

He continues, “The task force will be analogous to ‘The Administrative Growth Task Force of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate’ appointed by Linda Bisson in June, 2008, that produced the report, ‘Administrative Growth at UC Davis.’ The 2016 task force will be chaired by Linda Bisson.”

Linda Bisson, in a letter dated Sunday, April 24, 2016, to President Janet Napolitano laid out some concerns:

We want to express grave concern over a pattern of negativism in the press and social media regarding women Chancellors and senior administrative leaders. There are strong parallels between the singularly intensive criticism of our Chancellor Linda Katehi and that previously of Chancellors Fox (UCSD) and Denton (UCSC), and of UC Vice President Greenwood. Yet, the activities that are being criticized clearly fall within the standards of UCwide practice. This pattern is exemplified by a 2006 LA Times article that criticized compensation practices for senior UC executives: those singled out for criticism for “extravagant pay practices, perks and privilege for top executives” are all women (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/16/local/me-cap16). The intensity of the criticism at the time ended in tragedy for Chancellor Denton. Chancellor Fox’s term was equally framed as fraught with turmoil, turmoil apparently not experienced by her male colleagues who were facing identical issues due to budget cuts and lack of diversity and inclusion. In an article in the San Diego Union Tribune written on Chancellor Fox’s decision to step down (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2011/jul/05/fox-leaving-ucsd/?#article-copy), she is described in terms steeped in implicit gender bias such as the quote ascribed to former President Atkinson: “She handled that as well as she could have handled it” – not as well as anyone could have handled it or as well as it could have been handled.

Women in leadership positions are often the victims of intense implicit bias and, as a consequence, of the phenomenon of “single storyism” – the reduction of their actions to a simple narrative that appeals to the biases of a broad section of society, in this case implicit gender bias and women being incompetent for their position. Whatever they say or do in response is twisted to fit the “single story.” We think the LA Times article listed above illustrates perfectly the problem of the single story experienced by senior women administrators at UC. If the LA Times story were rewritten today, Chancellor Katehi’s name is likely the only one that would be added to the list.

All of UC is richer because of the participation of women and underrepresented groups at all levels. We know you and your leadership team share this belief. We are concerned that UCOP does not recognize that senior administrators who are identified with an underrepresented identity vital to our diversity are subject to vilification in the press simply because of that identity. We are also concerned, as recent press regarding our Chancellor Katehi demonstrates, that Chancellors and other senior administrators are not well-equipped to deal with single storyism, nor is there the recognition that others, such as UCOP, must step in to address the criticism as well.

The absence of factual information on UC policies and practices with respect to external compensation for all senior administrators has led to speculative and negative public debate regarding a single senior woman, when the practice of external involvement is widespread. We would like to request clear articulation from UCOP of both the formal policies and the informal practices as they pertain to executive compensation (e.g., have senior managers been encouraged to participate in activities outside UC). We note that legislators are calling for the same review. UCOP’s understanding of the broader issues involved is essential to informing these external discussions. The need for UCOP to take action is urgent.

We thank you for considering this request.

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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  1. nameless

    What is being said here?  Two wrongs should make a right?  Because male UC administrators are getting away with doing bad things, female UC administrators should be able to get away with bad behavior too?  Sheesh!

    1. Miwok

      I think, through my lens of working under both, is that the Hope that things would change, and seeing the changes made, only became a different tyranny.

      Just like the initiatives made in the 80s and 90s for long overdue affirmative action, it only brought the same type of problems, just a different name on  the letterhead. The racism, sexism, and nepotism just became a familiar pattern again, with new players.

      The fact these people have to keep the Regents in the loop and they really control the playing field, puts the Governor in charge for things rather than the Chancellors.

  2. Tia Will


    I also had the same concern when I started the article. However, in view of their concluding paragraph, I do not believe that is what they are saying at all. I believe that they are calling for transparency about the outside compensation policy as it applies to all senior administrators regardless of gender.


    1. VG

      What they are saying is (in my translation):

      “there is no problem at UC Davis. There is only a bad press: “single storysm” and “story tellism”, that is targeting the Chacellor, because she is a woman (didn’t I write that before?). If a male did what she did or worse (read Vanderhoef), it would have been perfectly OK – so what is the fuss?” Let us clarify this with Napoletano to confirm that all she did is within the rules (which I believe, it is).

      The problem is  “story tellism” and the press should stop it!”

      Academic Senate represents the faculty, and with 90% of the faculty uninvolved (similar percentage of students) – she is there to stay!

      🙂 🙂

      1. VG

        There is a “single storyism“, “story tellism” and “telli storyism“.  For those of you that do not understand the learned way Academic Senate speaks to those bellow, let me enlighten you:

        “single storyism” means that the press has not been reporting the good side of what happen on UC Davis campus. E.g.:

        – “peper sprayism” of studnets, may have had some very beneficial and postive effects on them. Megan Kelly, of FOX news, is an example of “multi storyism”. She said that “pepper spray is made of food ingredients”, thus, pepper spraying students is like enriching their nutrition with some, perhaps beneficial, natural food ingredient. It can only do good to them. I did report that pepper spraying incident may be good in developing their political thinking. Perhaps prepare them for the future. E.g. when they are unable to find job due to their worthless UC Davis degree, they may be rioting and this pepper spraying incident may be seen as a training exercise. It is all for their good. I suppose Megan Kelly may receive Pulitzer Prize for her “multi storyism” reporting. (I would not mind to get a partial credit for my part in it)

        – Why being on De Vry board is bad? It is actually good for UC Davis. Both institutions are selling their degrees. How many UC Davis students, graduates and undergraduates, were turned away because of their incompetence and lack of academic performance? Not many at all (assuming they continue to pay). Thus sitting on the Board of De Vry, our Chancellor may figure out some price-performance “sweet spot”, comparing notes with De Vry. Both institutions are in business of swapping degrees for paper printed notes. So why not collaborate. Divide the market e.g.

        – I will not expand on J. Wiley publishing house involvement, because I already wrote a “multi storyism” comment with respect to that.

        “story tellism” means that the press has no better things to do. They like to write. They should not. Because had they not written about UC Davis, there would have been no problem at all.

        “telli storyism”  means that our learned Academic Senate is telling the UC President, that if she wants to keep Linda, they are behind because this is just a bad press, caused by “single storyism” and gender discrimination. However, if the President wants to get rid of her, they are 100% behind – just give us the marching orders “Heil Janet”!


  3. tiger

    I believe you may have missed the point of Knoeson’s letter. I looks to me like the main purpose was to assure faculty that there had been considerable Academic Senate involvement in the development of  new campus metrics. The context is that these metrics were the main focus of complaint in a recently distributed letter from some faculty that characterized the metrics as being imposed by the administration.

  4. The Pugilist

    I think I agree with Tia and Tiger, but there is point being missed here.  Why is scrutiny on Katehi sexism?  She admits she screwed up.  The only question is what should happen as the result of those errors.

  5. tiger

    Translating from cautious academic language, I think the Bisson letter is pleading with UCOP to stop letting a single, woman chancellor take the heat for the whole system’s administrative compensation practices. If the authors are correct (I’ve no knowledge here), there is a history of the press focusing attention on the compensation of women while being relatively quiet about that of their male counterparts. If they’re correct, UCOP’s lack of transparency is abetting this scapegoating by making comparison difficult.

    1. Alan Miller

      There’s also a history of the press focusing on people who screw up, and then keep screwing up, and can’t stop screwing up to stop screwing up their own screw ups.

      1. South of Davis

        tiger wrote:

        > there is a history of the press focusing attention on the compensation

        > of women while being relatively quiet about that of their male counterparts

        The press spends a lot of time focusing on the fact that female professors overall make less than their male counterparts, but little time focusing on the fact that less female professors have tenure and a large number have taken years and years off to raise a family.  The press spends even less time focusing on the fact that tenured female professors with 30+ years of uninterrupted service make MORE than male tenured professors with an identical number of years of interrupted service.

        Then Alan wrote:

        > There’s also a history of the press focusing on people who screw up,

        > and then keep screwing up, and can’t stop screwing up to stop screwing

        > up their own screw ups.

        The press seems to also like building people up and then shining a bright light when they “screw up, and then keep screwing up, and can’t stop screwing up to stop screwing up their own screw ups.” (it that you Tiger Woods posting as “tiger”)?

        1. The Pugilist

          The press goes where there is a story.  Was there a story here?  Of course.  I find it odd that the defense of Katehi is that the practice is permitted as though that exonerates bad judgment.  But here’s the thing: why are we finding out about it after the fact?  If it’s not a problem, why not send out a press release to celebrate it.  Instead she took steps to keep it private because she knew it would blow back on her in a negative way.  But no one wants to admit this.

      1. VG

        Over 350 faculty members have signed a letter in support of Katehi to be sent to Napoletano.

        Hackers took the site down, so signatures are collected via email.

        If you are in stupor of Katehi please emails and sign as per instructions bellow:

        Dear Colleagues,

        Over 350 faculty have signed the letter below supporting Chancellor Katehi’s continued tenure as Chancellor as of UC Davis. The site through which signatures were being collected has been hacked and had to be taken down. If you would like to add your name to the letter please respond to me with your name and department or program and your name will be added to the letter.
        Suad Joseph  sjoseph@ucdavis.edu
        Maxine B Craig mbcraig@ucdavis.edu

  6. Marina Kalugin

    I believe that Chancellor Katehi is being wrongly targetted. This letter seems to confirm that there are numerous others who are convinced of the same thing.

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