Christopher M. Patti, chief campus counsel, was killed Sunday at the age of 59 in a fatal accident while bicycling in Sonoma County.
Patti worked for the university starting in 1990 and began serving as the chief campus counsel in 2010. He handled legal issues across campus and provided legal advice to senior campus administrators, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof. Mogulof mentioned that Patti was an expert in legal matters pertaining to free speech and also contributed to policies relating to sexual harassment.
Chancellor Carol Christ released a statement Aug. 28 mourning the loss of Patti and remembering him as an esteemed leader in higher education law.
“He loved this institution with all his heart, and his knowledge, compassion and integrity made him an extraordinary public servant and an incredible colleague,” Christ said in the statement. “We offer our sincere sympathies to his family, as well as to the many individuals within our community who worked with Chris and who, like me, considered him a dear friend.”
Prior to his time as chief campus counsel, Patti worked at the Office of the General Counsel within the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, where he focused on litigation involving constitutional issues, class actions and academic and student affairs. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1980 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1983.
Charles Robinson, the general counsel and vice president of legal affairs at UCOP, was one of Patti’s colleagues. Robinson said Patti loved the mission of the campus and the accessibility of resources to students who came from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“He offered great insight, great judgement and identified issues other people had overlooked and offered solutions other people would not have thought of,” Robinson said. “He was a tremendously talented professional and a very warm person.”
Robinson said Patti’s professional and personal legacy is the impact Patti left on the campus legal affairs office and the mentorship Patti provided to other lawyers. Robinson added that Patti was also “an excellent family man.”
As spokesperson, Mogulof worked very closely with Patti. Mogulof said Patti was “whip-smart” and dedicated to the campus, constantly present to provide legal advice and wisdom.
Mogulof said Patti could have earned more in the private sector; by choosing to work at the UC, however, Patti was the “quintessential public servant,” committed to the university’s mission and campus community.
“He was somebody who was a consummate professional, a great friend,” Mogulof said. “(He) came to work every day committed to making sure those he worked with did the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons.”