Graduate Students Want to Halt Chancellor Hire

MRAK-OccupationThe Vanguard received a press release from the UC Davis Graduate Student Association stating, “Last night the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (graduate student government) adopted a resolution calling for a halt in the designation of the next chancellor of UC Davis until a more transparent and democratic process for selection and appointment has been established.”

Resolution Calling for a Halt in the Designation of the Next Chancellor of UC Davis until a more Transparent and Democratic Process for Selection and Appointment has been Established

Sponsor: Emily Breuninger, Sociology

WHEREAS, on April 27, 2016, UC President Janet Napolitano placed former UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi on paid administrative leave for a period of 90 days, following months of student and community protest, faculty dissent, and calls for resignation among state lawmakers. During this 90 day period, independent investigator Melinda Haag was hired by the University of California at the rate of $595 an hour to investigate allegations against former UC chancellor Linda Katehi concerning nepotism, dishonesty surrounding social media contracts, and the
misuse of student fees;

WHEREAS, on August 9, 2016 former UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi resigned from her position just moments prior to the release of a report issued by independent investigator Melinda Haag, confirming that, as chancellor, Katehi minimized her knowledge of and involvement with certain social media-oriented contracts, failed to report and receive proper authorization for seventeen of her twenty two outside board positions, and violated university policies regarding the reimbursement of travel funds;

WHEREAS, in line with UC Regents Policy 7102: Policy on the Appointment of Chancellors, an advisory search committee was appointed and announced on September 13, 2016, comprised of 17 members: President of the University, Chairman of the UC Board of Regents, 5 UC Regents selected by the Chairman of the Board, 5 faculty members selected by the UC President, one undergraduate student selected by the Associated Students, University of California, Davis (ASUCD), one graduate student selected by the UC Davis Graduate Student Association, one alumnirepresentative selected by the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, one foundation representative selected by the UC President, and one staff employee representative selected by the UC Davis Staff Assembly. The purpose of this committee is to advise UC President Janet Napolitano in her selection and recommendation of a candidate to the UC Regents, who hold the ultimate decision-making power in appointing the next chancellor of UC Davis;

WHEREAS, the advisory committee comprised of representatives from a variety of campus groups will assist with the recruitment and review of candidates, only UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Regents hold the power to select and appoint the next chancellor of UC Davis. If the advisory committee or any other member of the campus community disagrees with this decision, there is no timely or practical mode of recourse to prevent such appointment;

WHEREAS, the asymmetrical balance of power inherent to the selection and appointment of chancellors under Regents Policy 7102 is further exacerbated by the composition of the advisory committee itself, with UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Regents holding seven (or 41%) of the seventeen seats on the committee. The overrepresentation of top UC officials on the advisory search committee ensures that the interests of those holding the most power in the UC system are prioritized throughout the selection process;

WHEREAS, graduate and undergraduate students comprise over half of the UC Davis campus community, there are only two seats for student representation on the advisory committee. These two student representatives, who were selected by ASUCD and UC Davis GSA leadership rather than the wider student population, are expected to speak to and represent the diverse concerns of over 35,000 UC Davis students;

WHEREAS, of the five faculty members who serve on the advisory search committee, only three are currently employed at UC Davis: Diana Farmer, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery, Rachael Goodhue, professor and chair of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and Ari Kelman professor of History. UC Davis faculty have previously expressed concern over a lack of shared governance between UC Davis faculty and UC Office of the President in the handling of matters surrounding former UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi. The undemocratic selection of faculty representation on the advisory committee by UC President Janet Napolitano serves as a further example of managerial overreach and the obstruction of shared governance by UC Office of the President;

WHEREAS, the singular faculty representative from the social sciences and humanities serving on the advisory search committee, Professor of History Ari Kelman, has been absent from UC Davis over the past two years due to taking a faculty position at another university. Faculty in the sciences and humanities were deeply divided in their support for former UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi prior to her placement on paid leave, with those calling for her resignation overwhelmingly concentrated in the social sciences and humanities. Given that Professor Ari Kelman has only just returned to UC Davis in the Fall of 2016, he is less acquainted with the events of the past two years than professors who have been actively engaged with the campus community throughout the Katehi saga;

WHEREAS, of the seventeen members of the advisory committee, only eight are actual members of the UC Davis community. In this way, the majority of those serving on the advisory search committee lack the lived experience necessary to be intimately acquainted with the unique needs and concerns of the UC Davis campus community;

WHEREAS, the meetings of the advisory search committee are closed and confidential and, according to Regents Policy 7102, the advisory search committee “will solicit the opinions of other interested groups in whatever manner it considers appropriate,” there is a lack of transparency regarding to the processes through which the advisory search committee selects and reviews candidates. The lack of transparency inherent to the selection and appointment of new chancellors under Regents Policy 7102 is particularly harmful at UC Davis given the high levels of frustration and mistrust in UC administrators currently pervading the campus community;

WHEREAS, at the first meeting of the advisory search committee held on September, 27, 2016 at UC Davis “various campus constituency groups” were invited to speak.6 There is no publicly available information regarding which campus groups were invited and the process through which they were selected. Despite the fact that first meeting of the advisory search committee focused on student issues, the Academic Student Workers Union, UAW 2865, which represents over 16,000 graduate and undergraduate student workers across the UC, was neither notified of nor invited to the meeting. The failure to identify which campus groups are considered to be stakeholders in the selection of the next chancellor of UC Davis and intentional denial of access to important representative groups such as UAW 2865 adds another layer of murkiness to the entire selection process and obstructs democratic representation and participation;

WHEREAS, the University of California has hired private firm Isaacson, Miller to aid in the search for the next chancellor of UC Davis,  despite the fact that Regents Policy 7102 neither requires nor mentions the hiring of a private firm. Former UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi’s involvement with private corporate entities such as John Wiley & Sons and DeVry University sparked a national conversation surrounding conflicts of interest in public higher education and the contradictory goals of public universities and private corporations. In the wake of this scandal, UC leadership has chosen to ignore concerns surrounding corporate alliances and unnecessarily involve a private firm in the selection and appointment of the next chancellor of UC Davis. The services of Isaacson, Miller are also extremely expensive. For example, the University of North Carolina paid Isaacson, Miller over $150,000 in the search for a university president. In light of the UC’s budgetary crisis, the expenditure of public funds on private entities raises serious concerns regarding leadership’s ability to make sound judgments in the running of a public university;

WHEREAS, under the current timeline, UC President Janet Napolitano expects to make a recommendation of candidates to the UC Regents by January 2017. This three month timeline to recruit, review, and recommend candidates for the position of UC Davis chancellor is extremely truncated compared to the length of searches for high level university leadership at comparable institutions. For example, the current search for a chancellor at Dartmouth College is expected to take six to seven months. Furthermore, the 2012 search for an executive vice president and provost at Penn State University took seven months, and the 2014 search for a president at New York University took eight months. The short timeframe attached to the UC Davis chancellor search not only lends itself to hasty decision-making among members of the advisory search committee as well as the UC Regents, it also serves to limit the amount of opportunities for participation available to the wider UC Davis community.

WHEREAS, Regents Policy 7102 has not historically resulted in the appointment of strong and ethical campus leadership. Former UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi and UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks, both of whom were selected and appointed under Regents Policy 7102, have recently resigned from their positions following high profile scandals. The tenure of former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi was ridden with ethical violations including the 2011 pepper spray incident, the unauthorized acceptance of multiple paid board memberships, the use of paid consultants to boost her image, and accusations of nepotism. UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks, on the other hand, has faced public outcry over his mishandling of high profile cases of faculty sexual harassment, the expenditure of nearly $700,000 on a high security fence for the chancellor’s residence, and the misuse of public funds on university travel expenses;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the UC Davis Graduate Student Association condemns the current process for selecting and appointing chancellors under UC Regents Policy 7102 as lacking in transparency and democratic engagement;

THEREFORE LET IT FURTHER BE RESOLVED, that the UC Davis Graduate Student Association demands a pause in the process of selecting a chancellor for UC Davis until a transparent and democratic process for selection and appointment is adopted and established at the institutional level for all UC campuses.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Chamber Fan

    This reminds me of the rhetoric that student protesters thought they would be able to vote on the next chancellor.  On the other hand, I do think they have a point that the UC has not hired well over the years.

        1. Frankly

          Thanks Don.  Settle down you two.

          The point is that the students are not experienced enough nor equipped enough to make the hiring decisions.  They should have a voice of input to the decision, but it should not be theirs to block or decide.

        2. Chamber Fan

          Students don’t need to make hiring decisions, but they should have input.  If they did, UC might have avoid the Katehi embarrassment of the last seven years.

        3. Frankly

          These are grad students not freshman.  I would think they have the maturity to make good decisions based on evidence presented to them.

          Considering that I hire many of the best and brightest of them I can respond “no” to that opinion with great confidence.

        4. Frankly

          BTW, Davis does not have a business graduate school on campus and I would expect that graduate students participating in this action to be over-represented in liberal arts majors and under-represented in STEM majors.

          And then so the use of that metaphor is certainly appropriate.

        5. Frankly

          Not on campus.  And I doubt that any of those students are participating in this action.

          Oops. Correction. This is a change from what I understood. Must be a new facility.

          Still doubt any of those students are involved.

        6. Frankly

          Ok.  The officers include one poor business-oriented grad school student and a medical school graduate student.  The Treasurer is the business dude… that is not a surprise.  The rest are all your standard liberal arts types.

          But none of them are experienced in what type of candidate is needed to be a successful CEO of a complicated and large business like this.

        7. Felicity

          No graduate business school on campus…. Haha!…. Mr. Know It All a.k.a. Frankly a.k.a. (a lot of people know your real name behind the scenes) makes a friggin’ fool out of himself.

        8. Frankly

          I was going to addend the UCD graduate school of business a couple of decades ago and then about 10 years ago.    It was in Sacramento at the Galleria.  It was and still is only for working adults.   In 2009 this new building opened and the NEW graduate school of business for full-time students opened.

          I did not know that.  Neither did the two recent UCD grads that I hired know that.  Everyone has always known that UCD is a STEM and liberal arts school and lacked a business school.

          Actually I am excited about this addition since is might help knock some of the liberal BS out of the student body and provide me some good hiring candidates in the future.

          But I stand my by point that those complaining about the chancellor and demanding say in the hiring are 1) too inexperienced to be given a seat at that decision table, and 2) generally liberal arts types.

          If you want to challenge those two things then make your case.

        9. Frankly

          I think you’ve sunk yourself on this. Stop digging.

          Unlike you, this isn’t my life.  This isn’t even a pimple on what I care about what other people think of me.  So your comment means nothing.  I can’t believe I even wasted any time typing that.

  2. Tia Will


    The rest are all your standard liberal arts types.”

    And who might these “standard liberal arts types” of whom you speak be ? When I was in medical school we had a number of students from non traditional STEM fields of study. Amongst those we had an English major, a comparative literature major, a Spanish major, and myself with majors in cultural anthropology and political science. And that is just the handful whose majors I can recall. We all made it into and graduated from medical school so I am wondering if in your mind we were “standard liberal arts types” or were we just “deviant liberal arts types” ?

  3. Tia Will


    Liberal arts education these days is really activist training.”

    Well, if you want to consider the two internists, one pediatrician, and myself as an Ob/Gyn who did surgery as part of my regular job for years “activists”, I guess that is one way of looking at it.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      my dear pals, those  who have never been  a real professor,  have no clue what the real professors do….otherwise one wouldn’t have so much time to spend here 24/7….I mean the ones who fight for tenure, while trying to do research and publish, get funding when innovation is actually frowned upon by peers, and mounds of unpaid public service, loads of teaching and office hours, and now the reams of administrative paperwork choking the likes of folks who some here continue to compare themselves to while having little clue still….you know, people like the Chancellor Emirita….and the real faculty who are members of the Academic Senate….I may even venture to say that most of the “faculty” who were taking postshots at the Chancellor Emerita are not full professors or even tenure track….how do I know?    it doesn’t take a rocket scientist….  I worked 24/7 with faculty who never took a moments rest….like Dr. Katehi….who also took on being Chancellor…. a truly thankless job….

      PS> the only reason I am back is because I couldn’t resist to check in…..I needed some laughs….on this vacation….unfortunately, not much is funny yet the same folks are still on the wrong sides of many an issue…..that is not only my opinion….but almost every single Academic Senate rep….the reps of every department at UCD>….only 3 or so out of ALL faculty were not on the side of Katehi


  4. Marina Kalugin

    geez kids, did the UAW advise you that was the way to go?

    just get rid of the Napolitano and bring back Linda and then we don’t have to go through this latest song and dance………..

    or haven’t you figured anything out yet?????   there is time though….

    fortunately for me …..this is no longer my dogfight…   perhaps Linda will invite me to visit her in her homeland……I always loved Greece….

    and lucky for her, she no longer has to put up with grad students like these kids…

    just follow YOUR leader the UAW – those highly educated auto workers know how to run a university, right? of course they do….

    1. Tia Will

      know how to run a university”

      It seems that there has been a marked lack knowledge of how to run a university without violence, unethical actions, and reams of bad press for quite some time now. Hopefully we will do better with new leadership.

  5. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   one doesn’t need training to be an activist….some of us are born that way….but some can be truly naive when they are young…..some grow up and some do not…..

    those who think the United Autoworkers care about the grad students are grossly misled…..they only care about their dues…….

    and when the auto industry was sunk they showed up to rile those who struggle because they are not as adept at playing the system and getting grants and supporting themselves…

    that was now quite a few years ago….likely a couple of decades…

    ancient history, right?

    history repeats itself for those too stupid to learn from it……not that I am calling anyone here stupid….am I …..nahhhh


    1. nomekopz

      a) this  was passed by the Graduate Student Association, not UAW 2865- the union representing academic student workers at the UC (which happens to be organized and run by graduate students, not auto-workers)

      b) very sad that you see graduate students organizing to protect one another and have a say in their working conditions as evidence of our incapability to secure grants— perhaps grad students felt compelled to organize in response to the university being run like a business?

      c) yeah, it really seems like you are a REAL activist with an inherent knack for power analysis– as demonstrated by your consistent support for institutional power over student concerns
      — not that i am calling anyone here stupid

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