Similar to an employee evaluation, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi will be receiving her five-year review in the upcoming academic year.
What this means is not what many people believe; Katehi is not up for contract renewal.
“I want to be very clear that this is not the case,” said Nina Robinson, chief policy adviser at the University of California Office of the President. “That’s not how the university operates. Chancellors are hired and serve at the will of the president and Board of Regents. They are evaluated in an ongoing fashion. There’s not any kind of moment at which they have to be reconfirmed.”
The review itself will be done by a committee of five faculty members — three from UCD and two from other UC campuses. The campus academic senates are responsible for choosing these committee members.
Once formed, the committee members solicit information from the entire faculty, then they write a confidential report that summarizes that information. From there, a report is provided to the UC president, Janet Napolitano, to use as input in her evaluation process. This will be the first time that Napolitano, who took office last September, is conducting a chancellor review.
The Academic Senate at UCD — as well as at all of the UC campuses — has a process it uses for nominating faculty for committee assignments, Robinson explained.
Typically, she said, campuses solicit expressions of interest — usually letters are sent to the entire faculty asking for participation in senate activities — for various committees that will need members in a given year. A “committee on committees” is then responsible for appointing three members to the chancellor’s review team.
A similar process takes place at the systemwide level, where a committee on committees identifies two other UC faculty from outside of UCD.
The review committee begins its information-gathering by way of letters solicited from all members of the Academic Senate.
“The letters themselves are not part of the package that the chancellor and president sees,” Robinson said.
Rather, a summary of the feedback is written up in a report for submission to, in this case, Katehi and Napolitano.
The review committee will exercise judgment if it believes a particular opinion in one letter is inconsistent with the vast majority of other input, Robinson said: “They are responsible for summarizing.”
This summary would note the strengths of the chancellor, the areas where “there’s a lot of agreement that this chancellor has really moved her the campus forward … (but also) there are some other areas where the faculty has expressed concern,” Robinson said.
The content of the report is then discussed between the chancellor and the president. Robinson pointed out that this report is merely one source of information for a president. Napolitano will use it to supplement her judgment, observations and knowledge of the chancellor.
“The president is constantly working with campus chancellors to help them be as effective and successful as they can,” Robinson said. “This is one piece of input that is officially solicited every five years, but it’s just one piece of input.”
Robinson also said there’s not a direct follow-up mechanism regarding the Academic Senate’s findings, but the president typically meets with representatives of the senate to discuss their report.
“And, for example, the president might say, ‘I agree with you on these five points, I don’t agree on point six,’ ” Robinson said.
But because a chancellor is always under review, the areas where concerns might have been expressed are not examined in the next five-year review. In fact, Robinson said, when “the next five-year review rolls around, the people who are doing the five-year review five years from now don’t have access to previous report. Each five years stands on its own.”
Do positive reviews and feedback translate to more money or other perks for a chancellor?
“At the university, we have not given increases in salary to chancellors in a very long time. They’re getting a 3 percent increase across the board this year. Unfortunately, we’re not in a position where we can reward them for excellent performance,” Robinson explained.
She summed up Katehi’s upcoming review as follows: “This is just one piece of feedback. … The process of chancellorial evaluation is ongoing.
“I’ve experienced in my time at UC that some people have a belief that chancellors are appointed for five years, and then they have to be reappointed every five years. That is absolutely not the case,” Robinson said.
Instead, she explained, “From the moment that they come on, they are actively being evaluated, coached, supported by the president. This is sort of like a taking of the temperature every five years, from the faculty, which is a hugely important constituent for every chancellor.
“But it’s not a definitive vote up or down for the chancellor,” Robinson said.
Notes: Robinson noted that chancellors and UC presidents are allowed to read the individual letters submitted as part of the chancellor’s evaluation process, with identifying factors redacted. As former UC President Mark Yudof’s chief of staff for 2 1/2 years, Robinson was on board during many chancellor reviews, but she never saw a chancellor “request copies of the letters. I think that in most cases, the letters are seen only by the committee members.”
— Reach Tanya Perez at 530-747-8056 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya