By Tia Will
On Saturday, July 2, 2016 the Sacramento Bee ran an article entitled “Katehi holds off on $ 200,000 pledge for scholarships amid UC investigation”. The article states
“Katehi, 62, may rescind the pledge altogether, depending on the outcome of a University of California investigation into her actions as chancellor, according to her private spokesman, Larry Kamer.”
I found this action if reported correctly, troubling on a number of counts but I suppose in retrospect I should not have found it as surprising as I did. Up until now, I have found the Chancellor to be a poor fit for leadership of a public university, based on her own words and actions. I have found a number of her actions to be an exercise of poor judgment or not in alignment with the responsibilities of a public leader, but I previously had no reason to doubt her basic integrity. The choice to back out of a promise for even this relatively small amount of financial support for the students who are her primary charge as head of a public university has caused me to change this opinion.
My own mother was not an educated woman. She did not graduate from high school. She did not have the Chancellor’s advanced degrees nor accolades. But she did have a form of wisdom based on honesty and personal integrity. She encouraged me to judge myself and other individuals not on how much money we had, how we looked, or what we said, but rather on the basis of our actions. She said that only through actions could we judge someone’s true colors. With this in mind, here is how I see the Chancellor through her own actions.
Dates as found on Wikipedia :
1977 Ms. Katehi graduates with a degree in electrical engineering from the National Technological University of Athens
She went on to earn her master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1981 and 1984, respectively.
1984 – 2001 she works as professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1994 – she accepts role as associate dean of academic affairs and graduate education
2002 – She is hired as the Engineering Dean at Purdue
2005 – She becomes the first female provost and Vice Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
2009 Linda Katehi accepts the position of Chancellor at UCD
Approximate salary at time of acceptance $400,000
In her role as Chancellor of UCD she charged a committee with creating a “Vision of Excellence” for the school, launched several blue ribbon committees including tech transfer and commercialization, research and informational technology excellence, and organizational excellence and created the Chancellor’s Colloquium Distinguished Speakers Series
2013 – She launched the World Food Center
She has continued the UCD tradition of supporting women and minorities through enrollment through their participation as both undergraduates and graduates especially in the STEM fields. She has excelled in attracting money for research and other university endeavors.
These are all truly remarkable accomplishments in their own right. I fully respect Chancellor Katehi for her scientific and academic accomplishments and for her dedication to the furthering of science and especially the role of women in science. Nothing I say hereafter reflects negatively on what she has accomplished in this sphere of her life.
However, back to my mother’s advice about judging by actions, not by words or appearance alone.
To have a complete view of the Chancellor’s performance, one also has to look at actions which may not have quite as much luster. So here is a second set of facts about the actions of the Chancellor.
1.” Katehi served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from April 1, 2006 to June 2009. As the Provost she oversaw all Colleges and Schools, the Library, HR, IT, facilities and was in charge of the University budget. She oversaw the admissions for UIUC during part of the time period (2003-2009) that came to be investigated under of the University of Illinois clout scandal. Dr. Katehi denied involvement, saying the “Category I” decisions were made at higher administrative levels.”
What is of interest to me here is not what the Chancellor did since a subsequent investigation confirmed that these decisions were not directly in her hands. It is what she did not do that bothers me. She did not speak out publicly and vigorously against this practice, but only claimed that she was not directly responsible. This would be fine in my eyes for a low level employee, but is a breach of responsibility for anyone in a leadership position.
2. November 18, 2011 Chancellor Katehi directs the police to clear the quad resulting in the pepper spray incident. The subsequent Reynoso investigation held her directly responsible for a number of inadequacies of judgment and leadership resulting in this unlawful assault on peaceful demonstrators. (Please see post of 7/2/16 for substantiation of this report finding).
Although the Chancellor stated that she took “full responsibility for the incident” she accepted no tangible accountability and only members of the police force were disciplined.
3. January 2013 – UCD under the leadership of Chancellor Katehi signs a six month contract with Nevins and Associates at $15,000 per month. Nevins and associates said in a company document that it “would work to remedy the venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor” through “strategic placement of online content”. In effect, university employees under Chancellor Katehi as the head of the university chose to spend at least $ 90,000 to look, but not actually be any better.
4. March 2016 Chancellor Katehi apologizes publicly for participation in a number of outside boards including Wiley and Sons, DeVry Education Group and King Abdulaziz University of Saudi Arabia. She promises to donate $200,000 of her Wiley stock proceeds out of $420,000 compensation for serving on their board to a fund dedicated to student education.
5. July 1, 2016, per her spokesman Larry Kamer as reported by the Sacramento Bee, Chancellor Katehi has suspended and may rescind her promise of $200,000 in Wiley stock proceeds depending on the outcome of a University of California investigation of her actions as Chancellor.
Unless someone can demonstrate that this promise was made conditionally pending the outcome of future twists and turns of her career, I view this as a betrayal of a promise made to future students, as an affirmation of previous charges that she has repeatedly placed personal wealth accumulation over student and university interests and as such has proven herself to be unsuited to head a public university.
Now, I do not expect any individual will excel in every aspect of their job. I know that in any complex system, be it science or high level administration, mistakes will be made. I do not blame anyone including the Chancellor for honest mistakes. However, what I see here, in the Chancellor’s actions is a pattern of poor judgment followed by deflection, denial of responsibility, blatant abdication of accountability, placement of appearance over substance, and finally the withdrawal of a promise of support for those who most need it, future students who are clearly not responsible for any of these events but who will pay the price. Through her own actions and in some cases inaction, the Chancellor in my eyes has failed to fulfill the totality of her job as leader and role model for students, employees, researchers, and instructors of a public university and should resign.