UC President Janet Napolitano announces advisory committee in search of UC Davis chancellor

Dateline UC Davis/Courtesy
Emil Mrak Hall at UC Davis, the administration building that houses many of the units that report to the chancellor. Photo taken on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.

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University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday the creation of an advisory committee to help in the search for a new UC Davis chancellor after the resignation of former chancellor Linda Katehi in August.

The committee comprises UC faculty members, staff, students, alumni and foundation representatives as well as five UC regents. The committee is expected to submit a nominee to the UC Board of Regents tentatively by January 2017, according to a press release from the UC Office of the President.

Members of the committee will be involved in recruiting, screening and interviewing candidates for the position. Additionally, they will consider public comments throughout the process.

At its first meeting Sept. 27, the committee will meet with a number of campus constituency groups to help determine what they will look for in a candidate, according to committee member Brian Riley, the former chair of the UC Davis Graduate Student Association.

Katehi resigned after a UCOP investigation that determined she had violated UC policies. The investigation took place amid controversy that UC Davis administration paid consultants more than $175,000 to dilute search results relating to a 2011 incident in which police pepper-sprayed UC Davis student protesters.

A smaller faculty subcommittee is expected to review incoming applications and compile a shortlist to be provided to the committee as a whole, which will then review the nominations and potentially consider other candidates as well.

Elly Oltersdorf, a member of the advisory committee and co-chair of the UC Davis student council on campus climate, similarly said that, as an undergraduate herself, she aims to use her seat on the committee to amplify the voices of other students.

Going forward with the search for a new UC Davis chancellor, Oltersdorf said she hopes the nominee selected by the committee will be “less corrupt (than Katehi) and more in tune with the student body” but fears the design of the selection process will not adequately address some student perspectives.

“This is not a democratic process,” Oltersdorf said, adding that she has been given limited information regarding her role in the committee.

Unlike with UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who announced his resignation in August and will stay on until a suitable successor is found, provost Ralph Hexter has been serving as acting chancellor at UC Davis since April and will continue to serve until the new chancellor is appointed.

“I think people will either be really happy to have a fresh start or will be really critical from the beginning,” said Alyssa Vandenberg, campus news editor at UC Davis student newspaper the California Aggie, of the new chancellor’s appointment. “It depends a lot on who’s chosen as a chancellor, what their background is and to what extent students’ opinions are taken into account.”


Contact Sydney Fix and Revati Thatte at [email protected].