Linda Katehi resigns as chancellor of UC Davis

UC Davis Chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi photographed in the reading room at Shields Library on the UC Davis campus.

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Linda Katehi stepped down as chancellor of UC Davis on Tuesday after an investigation led by the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, found she had violated UC policies.

In May, Katehi was placed on 90-day paid administrative leave to allow outside investigators to look into allegations that she had breached university policies. Melinda Haag, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California and current San Francisco attorney appointed to lead the independent investigation, submitted an Aug. 1 report summarizing the findings of the investigation.

According to a statement from UCOP, the investigation determined “the chancellor had exercised poor judgment, not been candid with University leadership, and violated multiple University policies.”

The investigation was conducted amid controversy regarding the UC Davis administration’s decision to pay consultants more than $175,000 to filter search results pertaining to police pepper-spraying student protesters in 2011, the Sacramento Bee reported. Both the pepper spray incident and the subsequent clean-up efforts occurred while Katehi was serving as chancellor.

In the report, investigators said Katehi denied she had directly communicated with contracted companies employed by UC Davis to dilute search engine results related to the 2011 incident.

“The evidence gathered indicates that Chancellor Katehi minimized her knowledge of and role in certain social media and strategic communications contracts in her discussions with (UC) President (Janet) Napolitano and the media,” the report stated.

Other findings addressed in the report include allegations of possible conflicts of interest concerning her service on the boards of for-profit corporations John Wiley & Sons and DeVry Education Group, which she served on without approval from Napolitano. Questions were also raised about UC Davis’ employment of Katehi’s family members and the improper management of student fees. Both allegations were dismissed by investigators.

2016-2017 ASUCD President Alex P. Lee said UC Davis students were relieved at the news of Katehi’s decision to step down, adding that her resignation was “long overdue.”

“With the news of the allegations, it really created a sense of mistrust (among students),”  Lee said. “It definitely felt like a dark kind of cloud hanging over UC Davis — more actually like a scar — especially for generation like me that didn’t see the evidence but had it at the back of our minds.”

In the meantime, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter will continue to serve as the acting chancellor, while Katehi will resume her position on the UC Davis faculty.

“Today’s news ends a period of uncertainty at UC Davis,” said Hexter in a statement. “The resolution announced by President Napolitano permits us to focus all our efforts on moving the campus forward so that we can serve California, the nation and the world ever more effectively.”

Cassandra Vogel is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cass_vogxz.