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Editorial: Give Katehi a chance to lead

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From page A6 | November 22, 2011 | 31 Comments

Calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s resignation rang out repeatedly Monday during the Occupy UC Davis rally on the Quad. We understand the sentiment, registered in the wake of last week’s shocking pepper-spraying of nonviolent student protesters.

However, we’re not ready to join the chorus of voices demanding that she step down.

KATEHI HAS LOST the students’ trust. Indeed, she acknowledged as much during her brief remarks Monday. She also has lost the trust of some faculty; the board of the Davis Faculty Association and the professors and instructors in the English department are the loudest voices demanding her resignation.

It remains to be seen whether she can regain that trust and lead the university out of this crisis. We’re willing to give her that opportunity.

Katehi asked for just that on Monday, saying she welcomes dialogue with faculty, staff and students over the coming days and weeks. Part of that dialogue must be a frank discussion about the chain of command when law enforcement officers are called to the scene of a protest. Friday’s confrontation is just the latest in a string of troubling incidents involving nonviolent protests in the past couple of years.

In fact, that discussion should focus on the need for confrontation at all. Students are justifiably frustrated about rising tuition costs; so are university administrators. Those involved surely must see that they do not have to be adversaries. Indeed, they should be working together to raise a united voice in the halls of the state Legislature and U.S. Congress, in the media, in the community — anywhere and everywhere they can be heard.

IN OUR VIEW, Katehi missed important opportunities to talk with students before police were called in, when the Occupy crowd numbered 50 instead of 5,000. These students are devoted to communicating; it’s time that university leaders started listening.

The students did their part Monday, giving the chancellor respectful silence during her remarks. Now is the time to talk, clear the air, acknowledge mistakes and begin to rebuild trust.

Katehi has been relentless in her drive to raise the university’s profile nationally and internationally. Now, unfortunately, she must bring the same zeal to cleaning up her own house.

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Discussion | 31 comments

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  • henrygeorgeNovember 21, 2011 - 9:25 pm

    send her to jail for terrorism against children

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  • howard reynoldsNovember 21, 2011 - 9:29 pm

    nope. sending the riot squad was chance number one to lead--fail. her callow responses in the first 48 hours, including being too afraid to speak to the students outside of surge II for three hours was chance number two--fail. the ucd community cannot afford a third strike. this is not a learn-on-the-job position.

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  • henrygeorgeNovember 21, 2011 - 9:58 pm

    a psychopath in full-knowledge of their actions would deny wrong-doing. a good person, who acted ignorantly, would feel so bad about their actions, they would resign.

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  • henrygeorgeNovember 21, 2011 - 10:17 pm

    http://youtu.be/ZMdddLgrRlM she had plenty of opportunity to review and stop the police brutality. this wasn't the first event. if she is a psychopath, she probably enjoyed the events until it was exposed. if she is not a psychopath, she does not deserve the position and the responsibility of the position. in either case, she is a danger to the students and should be fired immediately.

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  • henrygeorgeNovember 21, 2011 - 10:24 pm

    there are several psychopaths across this nation who support the actions of the police. there are several good people across this nation who are very sick of this. it happens every day. if linda katehi was smart, she'd resign before she becomes the symbol of police brutality.

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  • FrankNovember 21, 2011 - 10:40 pm

    And while we are asking Katehi some questions like "WHY?", perhaps one question could be her justification for sitting on the board of directors of John Wiley & Sons, a large publishing company, with a large educational business?" Is this not at the very least a potential for impropriety? At least the appearance thereof? How can we expect her to make decisions with the trust of the public when she is being paid by a source that could potentially bias her? And while we are at it, this whole place where we are now with UC essentially decoupling from public control, while still deriving income from the government and having a strong incentive to raise fees...Which boards are those people sitting on?

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  • ml1999November 21, 2011 - 10:41 pm

    This story has two sides, which the devoted fail to see. A lawyer I heard on TV said that possibly three laws were broken... failure to disband, resisting arrest, and I don't recall the third. Police are allowed to use reasonable force, and this was pretty low force on the pecking order. Was it morally right? Yes, the images are stark. But if the encampments were left, and a rape or murder occurred, as they have at other Occupy sites, you'd then also be calling for her head. It seems like the tactics used were the responsibility of the police, so if someone should lose their job, maybe that's where the focus should be. Not looking for the person with the largegst title to remove.

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  • sherman adamsNovember 22, 2011 - 11:58 am

    "Three laws were broken ... failure to disband, resisting arrest, and I don’t recall the third." How nice to read a comment from Rick Perry!

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  • Greg KuperbergNovember 21, 2011 - 11:06 pm

    I totally agree that Katehi deserves a chance to lead the university. A lot of people feel empowered by demanding her resignation, and that's just foolish.

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  • John ClossonNovember 22, 2011 - 12:36 am

    The chancellor is also sitting on the board of a publishing co. ? There's a conflict of interest she's getting supplemental pay for. She's making half a million dollars a year as a chancellor. Isn't that enough? She needs to focus all of her time at UCD, at least long enough to do the right thing and resign.

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  • Kevin KodaNovember 22, 2011 - 1:11 am

    Honestly, I sincerely feel bad for Chancellor Katehi. While I don’t know her personally, she seems like a nice person and her apology on Monday seemed sincere. That however, does not absolve her of the repercussions of Friday’s pepper spraying of UC Davis students. By only punishing the campus police department, you’re making the UCDPD scape goats. UCDPD was at the Quad because Chancellor Katehi ordered them there. While Katehi did not order the use of pepper spray, police misconduct could not have happened if they weren’t there in the first place. Just two weeks before, UC Berkeley campus police beat Occupy Cal protesters in the course of removing protester tents. Earlier in the week, Seattle Police pepper sprayed Occupy Seattle protesters when the protesters failed to comply with Seattle PD orders. Chancellor Katehi should have known bringing in the police to confront student protesters could quickly escalate. She either didn’t anticipate this outcome or naively believed it could never happen at UC Davis. The result? 10 students arrested, 2 students hospitalized, another student with possible permanent nerve damage, and a viral video on YouTube besmirching the good name of UC Davis. Will Katehi’s resignation make things copacetic, absolutely not. Can changes be made with an interim Chancellor, absolutely. Changes aren’t made by the Chancellor alone. It requires input from the students, faculty, staff and most likely, from the Board of Regents. Leaders lead not just because they have a title, but because they have the moral authority given by those they govern. It’s clear to this alumnus that Chancellor Katehi has lost that moral authority to lead. We don’t have time for her to regain our trust. Substantial changes at UC Davis need to happen quickly to ensure the health and safety of our children, our fellow students, and our fellow faculty members. And that is why I believe Chancellor Katehi must resign.

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  • Greg KuperbergNovember 22, 2011 - 7:31 am

    The beginning of your comment here makes a lot more sense than the rest of it. The issue here is not mainly pity on the chancellor, it's that even a good leader can be caught off guard by the actions of others, and by viral videos. Resigning is not in and of itself leadership, and all of the evidence so far is that she was just caught off guard. In particular, the police department was not a passive campus unit that was only animated by her ideas and her orders. It was much the opposite: She authorized them to do something that they wanted to do. So your argument is that she should resign because she shouldn't have trusted the police to control themselves. But if a university can't trust its police to control themselves, then what is the point of having any police at all? The idea that we need resignations because of a safety emergency on campus is also nonsense. I was on campus yesterday and no one was sincerely afraid of anything. People are playing that up for political reasons. Even if it were true, a resignation would not in and of itself bring any safety. To the extent that safety is the real issue, it's yet another reason not to want an immediate revolution.

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  • ucd parentNovember 22, 2011 - 3:21 pm

    You completely miss the point. The protest was passive. There was no need to do ANYTHING. The students were asked to remove their tents, and they did. They were passively sitting on the grass and a sidewalk. That is allowed, there is no law that states you cannot sit on a lawn or sidewalk at UCD. The police stood on either side of the protesters. Their police car was parked right behind them, should they have wanted to turn around and leave. There was no one impeding the police, nor threatening them in any way. What the chancellor chose to do: 1) not investigate the situation first hand or 2) rely on information supplied by others WITH A) a plan of action developed by her knowledge and experience, or B) a plan of action offered by those in her service as chancellor. In any combination of the above, she made a decision. Whether it was with or without others input does not matter. It was her responsiblity to access the situation and make an intelligent decision. She did not. That is why she must go. This is not a position for on-the-job training. There is no excuse for incompetence and there are federal, state and local laws if it was intentional. Yes it would make a difference if she resigned. Why? Because maybe someone with experience and competence would replace her! Imagine that, someone with competence and experience.

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  • Greg KuperbergNovember 22, 2011 - 11:50 pm

    I went through a long video in three parts today, and first of all some key details of your version of it are not true. Most of the protesters packed up their tents, but some of them just refused. They broke into anti-police chants for 25 minutes instead of doing what the police asked them to do. In any case Katehi, as far we know, never asked the police to do any more than remove the tents. She shouldn't have to second-guess the police with a request of that sort. And just in general, one of the reasons that I like Katehi is that she IS someone who learns from experience instead of a rigid know-it-all.

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  • EdwardNovember 22, 2011 - 2:59 am

    John, It is a publishing company that makes most of its profit from educational texts. Should we not ask who exactly is benefiting? It does not appear to be the students. It does not appear to be the community, including the most expansive levels of that term. On campus, in town, in the county, in the state of California. In our nation. In the world. Who then is left? A sane, rational person who had accepted the charge of leading UC Davis...if they had put into place, even through their inaction, this chain of events would offer resignation with the hope of mercy. What we get instead is arrogance. The only thing that I can find that would explain this is that this goes deeper than Chancellor Katehi. If she is willing to move on and tell us what 'really happened', we should show her mercy. We are all caught up in our own circumstance. If not her, then whom? Even a casual glance through the list of UC Regents and their commercial interests indicates possible conflicts. For Pete's sake, Richard Blum is a real estate speculator and investor in student loans. He's a UC Regent. His wife is a Senator.

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  • EdwardNovember 22, 2011 - 3:14 am

    Here is a New York Times article about the company that Richard Blum, UC Regent, is the primary owner. The company is called The Career Education Corporation. The article is called "INSIDE THE NEWS; The School That Skipped Ethics Class" Yes, this guy will help us educate our students...

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  • ucd parentNovember 22, 2011 - 5:48 am

    I am a parent of a UCD student. There is nothing this chancellor has done in the past few days to make me feel it is safe at UCD for my child. Nothing. That is the bottom line for who stays and who goes. I need to know there is someone in authority who can make intelligent decisions and who has the authority to lead, which did not happen this past week. Who is going to listen to this chancellor now? She cannot earn my trust because she is weak. She let others take over, punishing students and hurting them. She failed. When my child returns next Monday, after the holiday, I expect her to be replaced.

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  • paralaxviewNovember 22, 2011 - 6:46 am

    Leadership skills are something you have or don't have. There was not time OTJ training. She doesn't have the skill sets involved to provide leadership. It's pretty obvious that she didn't have a clue then, and doesn't have one now. Don't want to see Chancellor Katehi with her own personal Rent a Storm Trooper's at her disposal......

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  • nzbmatrixNovember 22, 2011 - 7:56 am

    Chancellor K has raised the issue of her days at Athens Polytech during the oppression of students there. An interesting sidelight--and much more current news: Among the legacies of the uprising was a university asylum law that restricted the ability of police to enter university campuses. University asylum was abolished a few months ago, as part of a process aimed at suppressing anti-austerity demonstrations. The abolition law was based on the recommendations of an expert committee, which reported a few months ago .... Among the authors of this report – Chancellor Linda Katehi, UC Davis. And, to add to the irony, Katehi was a student at Athens Polytechnic in 1973. Details are sketchy but see http://crookedtimber.org/2011/11/22/athens-polytechnic-comes-to-uc-davis/ for some insights.

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  • Susy Boyd, UCD AlumnusNovember 22, 2011 - 10:20 am

    She had an opportunity to lead. She failed beyond our wildest dreams. She had weeks to prepare for and develop a reasonable action plan for the high profile, media intensive occupation. The choice she made was the use of force. This is a plan that anyone -- a nurse, a WalMart cashier, a doctor, an IT Tech, a shoe salesman -- could have come up with. She has further escalated the situation by relying on a series of statements that originated with stating that she supported the actions of the police, and now arrived at her "horror". She lacks the integrity and capabilities needed to perform her duties. She lacks the support of the UC Davis faculty themselves and the vast majority of UC students. UC Davis' Facebook page is filled with thousands and thousands of requests for her dismissal from every nook and cranny of the planet. She is done.

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  • pltidwllNovember 22, 2011 - 10:25 am

    In the opinion of a UC alumnus and current employee of a public college, she has to go, she will never be an effective leader of faculty or students again. As a failed leader of a campus, she has to go, UC Davis has now become a target and a symbol of everything wrong with the UC system. Her actions, her decisions, and hers alone have led to the unraveling of the campus environment. The time to lead was before this incident, not following. She has to go.

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  • Edward Broyles, UCD AlumnusNovember 22, 2011 - 11:27 am

    I agree that she must go. We must also do a thorough look into the system that brought her onto campus. I don't know how someone in that position, given the responsibilities incumbent on her, could make those decisions. Unless of course she has some other motive that she was balancing against the needs of the students. I don't think she did this for purely psychological thrills. She must go and we must examine the entire process that brought her here to do these things so that we don't merely replace her with another who would do the same.

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  • Kristi KraemerNovember 22, 2011 - 11:37 am

    I am surprised by those who feel that their voices have not been heard are demanding that Katehi not be heard. She is powerful, it is true, and her power was not used well on Friday. The buck stops at her desk. Having accepted that, she clearly needs to respond, and we will watch what she says and, more importantly, does. As I read these notes, there are many issues to be resolved. Clearly, a simple "off with her head" will not resolve them all...

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  • ucd parentNovember 22, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    "off with her head?" No, hardly. When a person is responsible for deciding to aim rifles at students, spray poison in their mouths, we need to know that that person is able to make that decision. She is asked to leave because she has already shown she is NOT capable of making these decisions. She needs to go now, so there is not another incident. There is nothing to prevent her from offering her explanations as a private citizen, not from the chancellors desk. After all, the constitution protects free speech. A lesson she would need to learn first, of course. I believe there are universities that have classes on the subject...

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  • Susy Boyd, UCD AlumnusNovember 22, 2011 - 12:17 pm

    Re: Edward Broyles' comment I was wondering the same thing, what factors were used in the decision-making process for her hiring. After reading her bio page, the conclusion that struck me was that she is a female with an impressive background in engineering/science. She may have appeared to make a fine figurehead for a progressive science-oriented campus which had yet to have a female Chancellor. I am not writing this from a place of sexism, as I am a highly educated female myself. If this was indeed the intention behind the choice, it was not necessarily a poor decision. It is unfortunate that as an individual person, Ms. Katehi lacks the abilities and integrity to serve as the UC Davis Chancellor. She is clearly an intelligent person, but this is not an appropriate match for her abilities.

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  • MGRaustinTXNovember 22, 2011 - 12:52 pm

    The chancellor is paid an annual salary of $400,000 (+ generous perks). I think Dr Katehi should voluntarily forego her $1,095 daily salary until the committee she appointed presents their review. It's time for the chancellor "to put her money where her mouth is." 30 days x $1,095 = $32, 850.

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  • Mike in ChicagoNovember 22, 2011 - 5:24 pm

    Absolutely! She must go! Pretty sure everyone can see through her major backpeddling, at first she condoned the police action, as well as called for it, she defended it, it is one of the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen what those cops did to those kids The parents should sue the police and the university! it is absolutely crimminal what they did! No justification whatsoever! It would be dangerous to let this woman continue in her position, SHE MUST GO!!!!!!

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  • JimNovember 22, 2011 - 10:08 pm

    The Davis Enterprise states "Katehi has been relentless in her drive to raise the university’s profile nationally and internationally. " You are correct, and in a period of 72 hours, UC Davis is on the tip of millions of tongues world wide. The video of police pepper spraying students is being used by repressive regimes around the world (read article in The Atlantic) to demonstrate that America is no better and in fact maybe worse. Many in the Davis community; 85,000 and growing petitioners on-line; many of the students; the UC Davis English Department; and now UC Davis Physicists.....who will be next on the list? and when will the Chancellor see the writing on the wall? She simply cannot be an effective leader now. She will be so busy trying to rebuild destroyed trust, that her ability to govern and make the sometimes hard decisions on campus is now lost. The faculty and students now know she is a wounded leader and wilt "blood in the water" will circle like sharks. She ordered police to remove 20 tents, now there are 50 and growing. She is done.

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  • Greg KuperbergNovember 22, 2011 - 11:56 pm

    I am a faculty member and this picture of sharks attracted to blood in the water doesn't describe me at all. I want to wait for a review of the facts; I do not want to jump into any shark frenzy. I'm not the only faculty member who sees it this way either.

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  • Aggie_fanNovember 23, 2011 - 8:12 am

    Well, while you are waiting, read this--Chancellor Katehi has been busy http://exiledonline.com/how-uc-davis-chancellor-linda-katehi-brought-oppression-back-to-greeces-universities/ Then read this from a Professor of Statistics at the University in Greece http://notthemajorityopinion.blogspot.com/2011/04/report-if-international-advisory.html

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  • california womanNovember 26, 2011 - 7:43 pm

    i'm another person who is unwilling to join the lynchmob/witchhunt against chancellor katehi. well-written piece. thank you!

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