UC Student Association Becomes the Latest to Call for Chancellor to Resign

Chancellor Katehi
Chancellor Katehi

While the students left Mrak Hall on Friday afternoon, the pressure on the chancellor continues. The UC Student Association voted on Friday to formally call for Linda Katehi to resign or be terminated from her position as the Chancellor of UC Davis.

Last week, three more state legislators – Assemblymen Mike Gatto, Freddie Rodriguez, and Mark Stone – joined previous calls by Luis Alejo, Lorena Gonzalez, Evan Low, and Kevin McCarty asking Chancellor Katehi to resign.

To date, the chancellor has declined to do so.  The Bee reported this weekend that Chancellor Katehi said that the university will respond to the Bee’s report that UC Davis spent at least $175,000 “trying to scrub the Internet of negative references” to the pepper spray incident on the UC Davis quad November 18, 2011.

She told the Bee, “There is going to be a response to The Bee because The Bee has … misrepresented the facts. There is going to be a response on Monday.”

On Friday, UCSA voted to call for the chancellor to resign as well.

“The pepper spray incident shaped student protest and campus response for the last five years. After the incident, Chancellor Katehi abdicated responsibility, but still felt it was necessary to initiate an impossible hunt to save her reputation,” said UCSA President Kevin Sabo following the vote.

“This is not a lapse of judgment, but a pattern of Katehi’s blatant disregard of her responsibility as a UC leader,” he continued. “Katehi is collecting a $425K salary, ample compensation given the fact that students on her campus desperately need resources like affordable housing, crisis food intervention, mental health support, and financial aid.”

“Students regularly request leaders in Sacramento to provide much-needed revenue to the UC. We hold our administration to a high standard that it spends that money responsibly,” he said. “Public relations professionals at UC Davis today insist that this money was not paid for by tuition revenue or public funds.”

“I have to ask: where did that money come from?” he continued. “Is there a donor out there who chose to fund PR stunts over scholarships? Was it worth it, now that the image they tried so hard to delete is etched deeply into the memories of students and legislative leaders who consider these actions egregious and corruptive?”

The release noted, “UCSA Board members also voiced anger that, during student protests about Katehi’s leadership, safe spaces for student protesters like signage for gender-inclusive restrooms were removed by Katehi’s staff.”

In a letter from Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, he addressed the stories concerning the UCD marketing budget and the hiring of external vendors to change online search results.

He argued, “These stories mischaracterize the facts. The campus hired outside consultants, using no public or student funds, to optimize search engine results in order to highlight the achievements of our students, faculty and staff.”

He continued, “Even if such a thing as eliminating stories and images from the Internet were possible, ‘pepper spray’ will always be part of UC Davis’ history. Every day we are trying to make sure we incorporate the hard lessons we learned. Our sensitivity to and acknowledgement of the importance of free speech and protest is evidenced by the approach the campus took to the sit-in on the fifth floor at Mrak.”

UC Davis claims, “The external vendors referenced in The Sacramento Bee article on April 14 were brought in primarily to improve our capacity and expertise in digital communications. We recognize that it is not even possible to remove content from the Internet, and that was not our intention.”

The Bee released some of those documents showing that, in January 2013, UC Davis signed a contract with Nevins & Associates for six months that paid $15,000 a month.

One document reads, “Nevins & Associates is prepared to create and execute an online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention the University of California, Davis, and Chancellor Katehi have received related to the events that transpired in November 2011.”

Among other things it says, “Online evidence and the venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the Chancellor are being filtered through the 24-hour news cycle but it is at a tepid pace. Our campaign will expedite this process through strategic placement of online content and an increased adoption of Google platforms that will serve to specifically target viral content found on YouTube and in search results on Google.”

Among the stated objectives is included, “Launch an aggressive and comprehensive online campaign to eliminate the negative search results for UC Davis and the Chancellor through strategic modifications to existing and future content and generating original content as needed,” as well as eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor.”

“It is troubling that the administration chose to spend scarce public dollars and to nearly double its PR budget when tuition soared, course offerings were slashed and California resident students were being shut out,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “These findings just raise more questions about university priorities.”

—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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        1. VG

          Mrak Hall, named after Emil Mrak, food scientist and chancellor. (Czeck origin)  Czeck translation: “Mrak” = “Dark”

          Appropriately named: “The Hall of Darkness”

  1. Tia Will

    I find it very hard to reconcile what look to me like two complete contradictory statements. Those coming from the Chancellor and Provost stating that there was no intent to alter content and those as quoted by the Bee from the contract between the university and Nevins & Associates which clearly state that this is the intent. Whether the goal was to “scrub” or “bury” seems to me a minor detail. It seems most likely that it is the Chancellor and Provost who are attempting ongoing obfuscation. When one considers that this has been the tactic that has been demonstrated dating back at least to the pepper spray incident, I find it hard to believe that their soon to be released statement will be anything but further such attempts to hide, confuse, and distract.

    1. Frunobulax

      I completely agree.  I just don’t see how the Bee “misrepresented” or “misinterpreted” what was actually contained in the contract.  The words are there.  In print.  What is there to interpret?


    2. ssc

      Tia Will: from your postings it is evident that you are a person of forthright honesty and integrity; of unflinching moral courage; of sound and dispassionate judgement; of humane modesty and humility; and of a generous disposition to serve and help others. In short, you are the polar opposite of Linda Katehi. I would vote for you as Chancellor of UC Davis in a heartbeat.

  2. Misanthrop

    What day do you think the announcement of Katehi leaving will come out? My guess is May 15. Anyone want to offer up their own guess. The day after Graduation in June has been claimed by Gunrocik who is a sports nut and figures they always fire the coach after the season ends.

    1. VG

      summer – July! ($100 bet). She is … waiting to be dumped, before … not to late. Not too early, either because it would create encouragement to go after someone else.

      Now, $1,000 bet, that all of you will wish her back after seeing her replacement.

      Mrak Hall is full of those that are far worse than her. If anything she got rid of some really rotten people that are hiding in the darkness of Mrak. (credit to her) Those people will be beneficiaries, not students, not the public, nor you and me :).


      [moderator] edited

      1. Alan Miller

        I agree about July.  They do their best to prop her up by showing she survived the academic year, then her and Janet will concoct a story about her voluntarily moving on to new opportunities.   They need time to get their story solid and dump her when the academic calendar is not ticking.

  3. The Pugilist

    What’s interesting to me is that the defense offered by the university is that the Bee got it wrong.  If that’s true, why didn’t they explain it to the Bee when they first called the spokesperson for a comment?

  4. ContextMatters

    The Bee did not ask for comment OR clarification prior to printing. The faculty will not the call for resignation, nor will the ASUCD – they have transmitted their thoughts to the senate.

    There is zero justification, and more and more us strongly believe this is witch hunt for a woman. Why didn’t the “UC” student association call for the resignation of Berkeley’s chancellor (sexual harassment he knew about) or the resignation of the UCSF Chancellor (pharma boards at much higher compensation) or UCSC (spent many more funds cleaning up the web after Chancellor Denton’s suicide).

    This is a witch hunt plain and simple.


  5. ContextMatters

    I should also note, that after requesting information on the vote from UCSA, this was provided:

    The student representatives (grad/UG) from the UC Davis campus both abstained from the vote of no confidence.

    This article should have tried harder to reflect the more complicated picture. And we should be asking why there is unequal treatment on the issues between chancellors. The UC system is a system.


    1. Frunobulax

      Frankly, I don’t really care about the rest of the chancellors.  I also don’t care about the Chancellor’s gender.  I care about what happens at UC Davis.  A consistent record of poor decisions is what I see as the problem.  This isn’t a one-time lapse…..every lapse over the past 6 years has been characterized this way by her apologists.  This is a pattern, and that is why she has lost my support.

      Poor decisions are poor decisions.  Do you think that the DeVry gig was a good idea?  Was pepper spraying a good idea?  Was trying to cover it up a good idea?  Was hiring extra PR people a good idea?  Was linking with the Saudi University a good idea?  Was consulting with Wiley and Sons a good idea?  Like I said: this is a pattern.

      Come on……wake up.

    1. Frunobulax

      I never said that competent women are always treated equal to men.  And, I know that this is not the case first hand.  But, a pattern of bad decisions has nothing to do with gender.

    2. Alan Miller

      yeah, yeah, you only have to care about Davis, because – of course – competent women are always treated equal to men.

      You can’t hide your Queen behind the gender issue just *because* she is a woman.  Of course there are gender issues society is just now recovering from with wounds that go back to the beginning of time.  That doesn’t mean a poor leader should not be fired.  None of us would be discussing her firing were it not for her actions, and we would all be calling for the same thing were she were someone’s uncle instead of someone’s aunt.  Letting her stay *because* of her gender would be like letting a famous murderer, who may be considered black, off the hook for slaughtering his wife and her friend because black people overall have been treated poorly overall by the police and the justice system.

    3. Tia Will


      competent women are always treated equal to men.”

      Of course not. But then competent men are sometimes not treated equal to women either. It can be a rough road to equal employment opportunities for a male gynecologist these days. I had to fight hard on several occasions to ensure the hiring of the best candidate for our department who happened to be a man because “our female patients would rather see a woman”.  While this may be true for some women, it should never be the deciding factor that determines a man’s career, just as it should never have been used to keep women out of medicine.  I cannot help but think that you are deliberately ignoring the posts of those of us who have stated clearly that gender has nothing to do with this for us. I have posted the same as a STEM woman, and yet you still claim that it is gender based. You don’t have to be misogynistic to feel that Chancellor Katehi is not a good fit for the position of Chancellor hear. And the answer to why I haven’t called for the resignation of any other chancellor is quite simple. I only follow the situation of my local university, the same one that I graduated from and the same one that I have served as volunteer faculty for the past 25 years.

      1. tj

        The first one to point out that the Chancellor has been using her gender for profit is Katehi herself.   Katehi has pointed out repeatedly that she’s a valuable commodity on the various boards because she’s a woman with a degree in science.

      2. VG

        In  my experience, seriously, competent woman are treated worse, sometimes far worse than man, in particular by other woman. Incompetent woman, that is a different story, they have a ball, and system is using them very well …. they also know how to serve it.

        I have met some incredibly good and competent woman, I do not know a single one that succeeded.

  6. Barack Palin

    The release noted, “UCSA Board members also voiced anger that, during student protests about Katehi’s leadership, safe spaces for student protesters like signage for gender-inclusive restrooms were removed by Katehi’s staff.”

    Really?  How about safe spaces for the staff?  I guess they don’t count.

      1. Alan Miller

        From wikipedia:

        A unisex public toilet, alternatively called a unisex bathroom, unisex lavatory, gender-inclusive toilet, gender-neutral public toilet, gender-neutral washroom, or often shortened to just unisex toilet or unisex restroom is a public toilet that people of any gender or gender identity may use. Gender-neutral bathrooms benefit transgender populations and other people who exist outside of the gender binary; people with disabilities, the elderly, and anyone else who may require the assistance of someone of another gender; and parents who may wish to accompany their children to the washroom or toilet facility.

        According to Dalhousie University, Canada: “A gender-neutral washroom is one where the signage is visibly identified with open, inclusive language, not just male or female. It’s evident these facilities are void of gender identity and have accommodations that are especially sensitive to the needs of a greater range of people. Some people are not comfortable using male or female-designated washrooms.”

    1. Tia Will


      I am sure that you will find a way to exclude me, but I am a STEM volunteer faculty member and have been for the past 25 years. I no longer support Chancellor Katehi based on her clear pattern of suboptimal decision making.  No ideology involved. I have no idea what her ideology or political persuasion is, but I do know that she has had a consistent pattern of poor decision making.

      1. Frankly

        Every now and then, a died in the wool social justice liberal manages to wander away from the herd and into a discipline and career that actually uses science and/or math and pays them well… but those small number of exceptions do not amount to much of a case.

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