It has been just over a month since Chancellor Linda Katehi was put on administrative leave by UC President Janet Napolitano. On Friday, her team held a press conference in Sacramento, calling on President Napolitano “to drop an announced investigation of Katehi,” calling it “hopelessly compromised” and “incapable of the objectivity or due process her client deserves.”
Melinda Guzman, the Sacramento attorney representing Chancellor Katehi, said that President Napolitano’s choice of a lead investigator “with an ownership interest in a law firm handling millions of dollars of UC business was reason enough to scrap the investigation, which was announced by Napolitano in late April.” The investigation, Ms. Guzman said, “has to start over.”
“The investigation of Chancellor Katehi was compromised from the start,” Ms. Guzman said. “Its integrity has steadily evaporated since the moment President Napolitano demanded Chancellor Katehi’s resignation with no notice, announced this case in the media and chose a lead investigator with a potential financial interest in the case’s outcome.”
“President Napolitano has no choice but to hit the reset button, scrap this investigation, name a new lead investigator, and make a good faith effort to get to the truth and allow Chancellor Katehi a fair hearing,” Ms. Guzman said.
You can watch the video here: https://www.periscope.tv/w/1vOxwBonwMdJB
On April 27, a statement by President Napolitano indicated there was a formal investigation and that Chancellor Katehi was being put on administrative leave.
The President, in a letter, stated, “Information has recently come to light that raises serious questions about whether Chancellor Katehi may have violated several University of California policies, including questions about the campus’s employment and compensation of some of the chancellor’s immediate family members, the veracity of the chancellor’s accounts of her involvement in contracts related to managing both the campus’s and her personal reputation on social media, and the potential improper use of student fees.”
She continued, “The serious and troubling nature of these questions, as well as the initial evidence, requires a rigorous and transparent investigation. As such, President Napolitano will appoint an independent, outside investigator to conduct the investigation and submit a report, before the start of the 2016-17 academic year.”
She concluded, “The president, with the support of the leadership of the Board of Regents, has determined it is in the best interest of UC Davis that Chancellor Katehi be placed on investigatory administrative leave from her position as chancellor pending the outcome of this investigation. Pursuant to an existing delegation of authority, UC Davis Provost Ralph Hexter will fill the chancellor role on an acting basis.”
“I am deeply disappointed to take this action,” said President Napolitano. “But Davis is a strong campus, nationally and internationally renowned in many academic disciplines. I’m confident of the campus’s continued ability to thrive and serve California students and the Davis community.”
On Friday, Ms. Guzman argued that when President Napolitano placed Linda Katehi on paid leave, it was in violation of the chancellor’s rights of due process and rules concerning academic integrity and shared governance. “Dr. Katehi is a tenured professor of electrical engineering at UC Davis,” she argued.
Meanwhile, UC Spokesperson Dianne Klein argued that the Linda Katehi is not cooperating with investigators.
“We are disappointed and confused by this behavior,” said Dianne Klein. “It does not advance the truth. We hope to conclude this investigation with the cooperation of the chancellor.”
“We have asked them repeatedly – 11 times – and there is no indication they are going to cooperate,” Ms. Klein added. “We certainly hope they do.”
In press release, newly-hired spokesperson Larry Kamer laid out a litany of concerns including:
- Baffling delays in UC’s disclosures of information requested by news organizations, a situation that is greatly troubling to Chancellor Katehi given that she had provided all such information prior to her leave in April
- Disparate treatment of Chancellor Katehi versus other senior UC senior administrators
- Questions of how President Napolitano has managed confidential personnel issues
- How the announcement of Chancellor Katehi’s “administrative leave” violated confidentiality and longstanding rules governing academic integrity
- Recent heavy-handed tactics by UC investigators
- Issues concerning the financial arrangement between UC and the Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm, specifically those regarding payments for this investigation.
The press conference on Friday signals that Linda Katehi is digging in for a fight. The chancellor reportedly is precluded from speaking to media, but her spokespeople were able to. The Vanguard will have further coverage on this in the coming days.
—David M. Greenwald reporting