The Suspension of Linda Katehi

BY HANK REICHMAN

On April 27, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced that Linda Katehi, Chancellor of the UC Davis campus, had been placed on “investigatory leave.”  The action came in the wake of repeated calls by legislators for Katehi’s resignation or dismissal.  This was not yet, as some have reported, tantamount to her ouster, however, and Katehi continues to fight for her job.  [It might also be noted, that if she is dismissed from her position as chancellor, she will retain her rights as a tenured faculty member.] Moreover, it is important to recognize that Napolitano’s actions were not prompted solely or even mainly by Katehi’s controversial service on corporate boards or on her now notorious use of contracts to remove negative information about her from the Internet, although Napolitano did allege that Katehi had not been fully truthful about that charge.

“Information has recently come to light that raises serious questions about whether Chancellor Katehi may have violated several University of California policies, including questions about the campus’s employment and compensation of some of the chancellor’s immediate family members, the veracity of the chancellor’s accounts of her involvement in contracts related to managing both the campus’s and her personal reputation on social media, and the potential improper use of student fees,” Napolitano’s office said in a statement. “The serious and troubling nature of these questions, as well as the initial evidence, requires a rigorous and transparent investigation.”  Napolitano said she would appoint an independent investigator to compile a report before the start of the next academic year and that UC Davis Provost Ralph Hexter would fill the chancellor’s post on an acting basis.  “I am deeply disappointed to take this action,” Napolitano said. “But Davis is a strong campus, nationally and internationally renowned in many academic disciplines. I’m confident of the campus’s continued ability to thrive and serve California students and the Davis community.”

Katehi’s attorney, Melinda Guzman, issued a statement following the announcement that called Napolitano’s move “entirely unjustified.”“This smacks of scapegoating and a rush to judgment driven purely by political optics, not the best interests of the university or the UC system as a whole,” Guzman wrote. “The Chancellor welcomes an independent, objective investigation and a full release of all relevant documents and public records.  Make no mistake: we intend to vigorously defend Linda’s professional reputation and her standing as Chancellor of the university she loves.”

The suspension culminated a three-day drama recounted April 29 by the Sacramento Bee:

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi was in the midst of another redemption effort just one week ago.

The 62-year-old lifelong academic and engineer had survived a mainly respectful legislative oversight hearing. She posted a video on YouTube entitled “Lessons Learned” and promised to do better in the future. She apologized for her missteps – accepting lucrative corporate board seats and the university hiring online management firms to clean up her reputation online

She spoke with The Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, Davis Enterprise, and was preparing for an upcoming public forum on campus where she would take questions about anything – anything – from students and faculty.

Then the call came in: UC President Janet Napolitano wanted to see her Monday in her Oakland offices.

When she arrived, the message was blunt: resign by day’s end or be fired, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Katehi asked for more time, and was given a reprieve until 10 a.m. Tuesday, sources said.

She hired Sacramento attorney Melinda Guzman and set up a Thursday appointment with UC officials to negotiate a graceful exit from her six-year leadership of the campus, university officials confirmed.

Before that meeting took place, however, word of Napolitano’s demand for her resignation leaked out, propelled in part by lawmakers who had been briefed and faculty members supportive of Katehi who heard the rumblings and tried to fend off her ouster.

Katehi scrapped a radio interview and canceled the campus forum. By Wednesday morning, media outlets began reporting Katehi’s future was in doubt.

At 11:44 a.m. that day, she sent an email to deans and top managers that quickly spread campus-wide.

“This email is to let you know that I am 100 percent committed to serving as Chancellor of UC Davis,” she wrote.

Within hours, Katehi was suspended and told she would face an independent probe into allegations that she lied to Napolitano, engaged in nepotism and misused public funds.

Napolitano sent the two-page suspension letter to the media Wednesday night and provided hundreds of pages of documents The Sacramento Bee had been seeking for six weeks though California Public Records Act requests.

In her letter Napolitano pointed specifically to Katehi’s daughter-in-law, who directly reports to one of the chancellor’s staff members and had received promotions and pay increases of more than $50,000 over 2 1/2 years.  During that same period, Napolitano said, Katehi approved a pay increase of more than 20% and a title change for her daughter-in-law’s supervisor.  Napolitano also alleged that an academic program employing Katehi’s son as a paid graduate student researcher was recently placed under the direct supervision of the chancellor’s daughter-in-law.

“It does not appear that appropriate steps were taken to address, document or obtain approval for the fact that your son now reported to your daughter-in-law, who, in turn, was supervised by one of your direct reports,” Napolitano wrote.

However, in an executive meeting called shortly after Katehi was put on leave, the Academic Senate at UC Davis reviewed the employment and compensation of Katehi’s son and found that he was not being directly supervised by the chancellor’s daughter-in-law or any other family member, Academic Senate Chair André Knoesen said in an email to senators.  “The student is employed in association with a research center, in a position appropriate for a graduate student,” said Knoesen, who is a professor in electrical and computer engineering.

Faculty and student opinion has been divided about Katehi’s role, with some, especially in engineering and the sciences, supporting her and others, especially in the humanities, calling for her departure. Indeed, as the Bee reported, “Her mixed record of accomplishments and missteps have sharply divided the campus, with some calling for her resignation and others stoutly defending her despite Napolitano’s actions.”

The UC and UC Davis student associations have called for Katehi’s resignation, expressing outrage over reports of lucrative moonlighting while students financially struggled and her efforts to cleanse the Internet of references to the pepper-spraying incident. But UC Davis student body president Alex Lee said students also appreciated her.

Among other things, Katehi’s billion-dollar fundraising campaign provided $162.5 million for student support, including nearly 1,500 scholarships, fellowships and awards. She has launched new efforts to help black, Latino, Native American and undocumented students academically succeed and graduate.

Davis also has led the 10-campus UC system in admitting California students – a touchy issue as criticism has mounted that UC has given preferential treatment to applicants from outside the state because they pay higher tuition.

In addition, Lee said, Katehi hired a new campus police chief following the pepper-spraying incident who has worked well with students.

“Students are divided over what they think should happen to the chancellor,” he said. “They do understand that she’s done a lot of great things and she’s a rare breed: she’s repentant. But the pepper-spraying incident left a deep scar on the campus.”

There have also been charges that Katehi has been singled out because she is a woman.  On April 24, a former and the incoming chair of the Davis Academic Senate sent the following letter to President Napolitano:

Dear President Napolitano:

We want to express grave concern over a pattern of negativism in the press and social media regarding women Chancellors and senior administrative leaders. There are strong parallels between the singularly intensive criticism of our Chancellor Linda Katehi and that previously of Chancellors Fox (UCSD) and Denton (UCSC), and of UC Vice President Greenwood. Yet, the activities that are being criticized clearly fall within the standards of UCwide practice.  This pattern is exemplified by a 2006 LA Times article that criticized compensation practices for senior UC executives: those singled out for criticism for “extravagant pay practices, perks and privilege for top executives” are all women (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/16/local/me-cap16). The intensity of the criticism at the time ended in tragedy for Chancellor Denton. Chancellor Fox’s term was equally framed as fraught with turmoil, turmoil apparently not experienced by her male colleagues who were facing identical issues due to budget cuts and lack of diversity and inclusion. In an article in the San Diego Union Tribune written on Chancellor Fox’s decision to step down (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2011/jul/05/fox-leaving-ucsd/?#article-copy), she is described in terms steeped in implicit gender bias such as the quote ascribed to former President Atchinson:  “She handled that as well as she could have handled it” – not as well as anyone could have handled it or as well as it could have been handled.

Women in leadership positions are often the victims of intense implicit bias and, as a consequence, of the phenomenon of “single storyism” – the reduction of their actions to a simple narrative that appeals to the biases of a broad section of society, in this case implicit gender bias and women being incompetent for their position. Whatever they say or do in response is twisted to fit the “single story.”  We think the LA Times article listed above illustrates perfectly the problem of the single story experienced by senior women administrators at UC.  If the LA Times story were rewritten today, Chancellor Katehi’s name is likely the only one that would be added to the list.

All of UC is richer because of the participation of women and underrepresented groups at all levels. We know you and your leadership team share this belief. We are concerned that UCOP does not recognize that senior administrators who are identified with an underrepresented identity vital to our diversity are subject to vilification in the press simply because of that identity.  We are also concerned, as recent press regarding our Chancellor Katehi demonstrates, that Chancellors and other senior administrators are not well-equipped to deal with single storyism, nor is there the recognition that others, such as UCOP, must step in to address the criticism as well.

The absence of factual information on UC policies and practices with respect to external compensation for all senior administrators has led to speculative and negative public debate regarding a single senior woman, when the practice of external involvement is widespread. We would like to request clear articulation from UCOP of both the formal policies and the informal practices as they pertain to executive compensation (e.g., have senior managers been encouraged to participate in activities outside UC). We note that legislators are calling for the same review. UCOP’s understanding of the broader issues involved is essential to informing these external discussions. The need for UCOP to take action is urgent.

We thank you for considering this request.

Linda F. Bisson, Former Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate, 2006-2008 & 2011-2012
Rachael E. Goodhue, Chair Elect, Davis Division of the Academic Senate 2016-2018

c:  André Knoesen, Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Dan Hare, Chair, Academic Senate
Linda Katehi, Chancellor, UCD

As rumors swirled that Napolitano had asked Katehi to resign, more than 400 faculty members signed a petition opposing the UC president’s intervening without consulting the campus Academic Senate and other administrators.  Professor Bisson, the former Senate chair who also chaired the search committee that hired Katehi in 2009, said the latest issues raised by Napolitano needed to be thoroughly examined.  Asked if she remained pro-Katehi, Bisson said she would withhold judgment until the investigation was completed.  “I’m pro-facts. I’m pro-transparency,” she said. “Then we go forward.”

The controversy suggests that “the Katehi affair” is less about Katehi herself than it is about consistent definition and enforcement of expectations and about the growing corporatization of the university.  This is the main point made by Chris Newfield, Professor of English at UC Santa Barbara, on his blog, Remaking the University. In a post entitled “The Costs of the Katehi Affair,” Newfield writes:

The simplest political question posed by the ongoing Katehi crisis is, “Can state government trust the University of California to clean its own house?”  The non-firing of Linda Katehi says, “No.” It’s hard to imagine a better targeted confirmation of UC’s reputation in Sacramento for poor management. If we didn’t have the Katehi Affair, Jerry Brown would have had to invent it.

Yes she deserves due process, yes women chancellors deserve it as much as male chancellors do, and yes the campus view should be decisive rather than UCOP’s.  But UC’s bureaucracy should have prevented the chancellor’s “mistakes” before they happened, or an internal investigation should have caught them before the Sacramento Bee did, or President Napolitano should have completed her investigation before she tried to fire Chancellor Katehi, or she should have succeeded in firing her on the basis of the preponderance of the evidence she already had. None of these things happened.

Dense corporate controls entangle every regular UC employee on a daily basis. It takes dozens of person-hours in a half-dozen offices to set up a post-doc contract.  A researcher can wait 6 months–at least I once did–to get final approval on an outside vendor contract when there is a wrinkle, like a specialized foreign researcher who doesn’t carry liability insurance. The Katehi affair tells the public that senior managers live by different rules. It says the same thing to UC employees.

Adds Newfield,

One type of damage appeared in CHE coverage of faculty views, where the faculty seemed not just divided but individually ambivalent and unclear.  The title of the piece could have been, “What’s Going On?” The interviewees were not working from an explicit standard of management behavior that they felt they should enforce.  Contrast these views with the UC Davis students whom Amy Goodman interviewed and aired on Friday.  Seniors Parisa Esfahani and Kyla Burke produced precise, detailed explanations of the conduct they were protesting. They tied that to their big picture policy issue, “the normalization of the privatization of the university,” which they said was subordinating education to money making.  They offered an integrated analysis of the range of Katehi “mistakes” as symptoms of a worldview that they did not accept.  The sense of belonging to the university, and the right / obligation to establish principles to which its leadership would be held to account, has come from the undergraduates.

I thought Linda Katehi should have resigned after the pepper-spray incident in 2011. I thought this not because it “happened on her watch,” but because she was unable or unwilling to fix it afterwards. The officer in question, John Pike, earned global fame for the casual contempt with which he doused seated protesters with pepper spray, marking them as outside of the universitas, outside of society. Chancellor Katehi didn’t rush to the students’ defense, and/or condemn the act (even with the using “pending a full investigation”), and/or discipline wrongdoers in a direct and forthright way. Her eventual reaction became her trademark: slow, calculated, and unsatisfying. This helped spread the damage through the system, as UCOP hired celebrity chief Bill Bratton’s then-firm Kroll Security, with its own conflicts, to investigate UC overall.  She seemed not to take hold of the real issue–obvious police misconduct leading to the violation of the civil rights of the protesters, and of their human dignity. “These are our students, or our neighbors. And this is a university,” she did not say.   She did not convene the university as a community with the permanent, historic obligation to understand itself.  My gut feeling was that she presided over “UC Davis” without connection to it.  I was struck by her walk through the silent crowd of students, at night, surrounded by bodyguards, unable or unwilling to speak, as though enfolded in a martyrdom of her own making.

I won’t rehearse her current errors–they have received much attention, including Angus Johnston’s definitive anatomy of the inane Internet scrubbling contract.  But I will note that her board service was not like that of the other chancellors.  She accepted positions at institutions that are directly opposed to UC interests. King Abdulaziz University games rankings with cash payments to prominent researchers for quasi-no-show jobs in exchange for sharing their citation credit, in order to leapfrog universities that have built reputations over decades. Wiley thrives by overcharging universities and their students for their own research results. DeVry prospers more when UC’s public funding is less.  Such board payments are not invitations to internal critique–these institutions get abundant external critiques for free–but to use public servant stature to legitimate for-profits. Chancellor Katehi has shown serial poor judgment, and to me all the incidents flow from the same failure to understand how people think and feel when involved in public service.  She’s not a bad person. She just doesn’t get it.

My diffuse but fundamental concern is the general aura or ethos that Linda Katehi has helped sustain. It’s not so much the petty self-dealing, culminating in putting her reputation ahead of that of the entire university’s, as it is the short selling of what a university is.  The university should stand for justice, enlightenment, and the continuous reconciliation of our private interests with the general welfare.  It should constantly trace great teaching and research back to open communication.  It should benefit student finances rather than hurting them. It should be a public good in the existential sense, where, for starters, regular citizens feel like the university is on their side.  It should model democracy, starting with managers possessed of generosity toward the role of student protesters in having prompted the investigations, and of enough epistemological humility to learn from critics.

This is the university I want. I’m convinced the wider public wants it too.  We have already learned what happens when we don’t deliver it.

I agree, but getting rid of Katehi won’t solve the problem.  It’s a lot bigger than one tone-deaf chancellor.

4 thoughts on “The Suspension of Linda Katehi

  1. Pingback: Protest Greets Katehi Replacement | ACADEME BLOG

  2. http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/06/uc-responds-allegations-katehis-attorney/#comment-320649

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/05/letter-uc-davis-chancellor-legal-counsel-melinda-guzman/

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/06/katehi-pushes-back-attorney-calls-probe-hopelessly-compromised/

    tvL MELINDA GUZMAN
    ATTORNEYS AT LAW + PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION Melinda Guzman
    Direct Line: (916) 551-2906 mgm@gfsacto.com

    May 26, 2016
    VIA E-MAIL, FACSIMILE & FEDERAL EXPRESS
    CONFIDENTIAL PERSONNEL MATTER
    Charles F. Robinson, General Counsel
    Office of the General Counsel
    111 Franklin Street, 8th Floor
    Oakland, CA 94607
    Re: Chancellor Linda Katehi
    Dear Mr. Robinson:
    This law firm has been retained to represent Chancellor Linda Katehi in connection with her employment as Chancellor and faculty member of the University of California, Davis. On April 27, 2016, University of California (“UC”) President Janet Napolitano placed Chancellor Katehi on paid administrative leave. Notice of this administrative leave came to me via
    telephone call from Allison Woodall of your office and confirmed by letter sent to me by email that evening at approximately 8:35 p.m. Immediately thereafter, the UC reported this action to the news media and shared the confidential two page letter sent to me to the news outlets, which resulted in numerous publications of the letter and reports of this personnel action. The acts of President Napolitano and the UC were unsupported by facts, unprecedented,
    outrageous and reckless and intended to cause Chancellor Katehi personal harm. Her
    reputation has suffered irreparable harm, which prompts her to lodge this complaint in order to protect her integrity and professional reputation.
    This letter serves as a formal complaint on behalf of Chancellor Katehi pursuant to UC personnel policies for the Senior Management Group. The letter is directed to you and not to President Napolitano or the Board of Regents, because I have been in direct communication as counsel with Ms. Woodall of your office and I understand that your office serves as counsel for the President and the UC in this matter. Please ensure that a copy of this letter is served on each member of the UC Board of Regents on behalf of Chancellor Katehi.
    The general facts presented below support various legal claims on behalf of Chancellor Katehi for breach of contract, violation of privacy rights and defamation, violation of
    confidentiality rights, retaliation, constructive termination and discrimination due to gender.
    455 University Avenue, Suite 330, Sacramento, CA 95825
    TEL 1916.448.0448 FAX 916.448.8628 —E-MAIL I mgm@gfsacto.com

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 2
    Chancellor Katehi has served as a loyal steward and leader of the UC system, and she prefers not to file a lawsuit against the very institution that she loves. However, President Napolitano demonstrated a complete disregard for California employment laws when she announced to the media and to the public the administrative leave and the alleged basis for that leave. Indeed, her actions were cold, calculated, intentional and reckless given that the alleged basis for the leave were incomplete facts and misleading statements, which President Napolitano knew or should have known would cause the public to believe that the allegations were true. Her actions were reckless and worse yet intentional and aimed at harming Chancellor Katehi and her family. Her actions were wholly inconsistent with the mission and values of the UC system.
    Kindly contact me as soon as possible to acknowledge receipt of this claim and to confirm a process to handle this complaint before an independent third party to review these facts and to initiate resolution of these claims. Time is of the essence.
    Synopsis of Relevant Facts
    Chancellor Linda Katehi has served as a distinguished member of the academy for over 39 years. In 2009, UC President Mark Yudof appointed her to serve as the sixth Chancellor of the University of California, Davis. She is the first and only woman to serve as Chancellor of UC Davis. As discussed further below, on April 27, 2016, UC President Janet Napolitano placed Chancellor Katehi on paid administrative pending an investigation into alleged violations of University policies. The allegations are wholly without merit, have for the most part been proven as false assertions by the UCD Academic Senate, and only underscore the bad faith nature of President Napolitano’s actions. Chancellor Katehi’s service to both the UC and to the UC Davis campus has been unmatched by her peers. We welcome a fair, independent and neutral investigation into the allegations, which we expect will fully vindicate her of the false accusations.
    Chancellor Katehi was born in Athens, Greece. Her family lived by modest means, and after graduating from high school, she was admitted to the National Technical University of Athens on scholarship. During college, she was one of two women in her class, and in 1977, she graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Her experience in college helped shape her interest in serving as a mentor to women and to students from underrepresented and emerging communities as they pursue careers in engineering and in the sciences.
    After graduation, Chancellor Katehi worked as a researcher at the Ministry of National Defense’s Naval Research Lab in Athens. Thereafter, upon the encouragement of a mentor, she applied for and was admitted to the University of California, Los Angeles to attend graduate school. In 1981 and 1984, respectively, she earned her Master’s Degree and Doctorate Degree

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 3
    in Electrical Engineering from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
    Chancellor Katehi’s career as a professor, researcher and administrator began initially as a lecturer at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece from 1977-78. After earning her doctorate, she served as a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor from 1984 2001, and as an Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Graduate Education in 1994. She then became the first female Engineering Dean at Purdue University in 2002. In 2005, she became the first woman Provost and Vice Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During these years, Chancellor Katehi demonstrated a keen interest in mentoring students, increasing the diversity of both faculty and students, and in continuing with her research. Her work as a researcher has been stellar. She holds 19 patents in circuit design and antennas. And, in addition to her work as a
    professor, researcher and administrator, she has served as a mentor to over 70 postdoctoral fellows and has been author or co-author in over 650 papers published in referred journals and symposia proceedings.
    In 2009, Chancellor Katehi became the sixth Chancellor of the University of California, Davis. She is the first and only woman to serve as Chancellor at UC Davis.
    In addition to her service within the university, Chancellor Katehi has been active in the community and has been honored with numerous public appointments. President George W. Bush appointed Chancellor Katehi to the Committee on the National Medal of Science, for which she served as Chair. She was also appointed to serve as a member and then Chair of the Secretary of Commerce’s Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the FBI’s National Security Higher Education Advisory Board and she was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a founding member of the National Academy of Inventors, among numerous appointments.
    Chancellor Katehi has received numerous awards and accolades for her leadership in education, including the AHC Aristeio Award in Academics and a Gabby Award for her achievements in education. In 2012, she was named one of California’s Leading Women in STEM by the California STEM Learning Network. And, on October 4, 2015, the National Academy of Engineering presented Chancellor Katehi with its Simon Ramo Founders Award recognizing her “extraordinary impact on the engineering profession” and “leadership in engineering research and education.” She is the first woman to receive this prestigious award since its inception in 1963.

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 4
    While at UC Davis, Chancellor Katehi has raised more funds for the campus than any prior Chancellor. She raised over $1 billion for the campus one year earlier than projected. She has increased student enrollment, she has diversified the students, staff and faculty, and she has earned the campus a place in history by making it a STEM, food and sciences focused campus. The 2013 UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health is but one example of the many significant contributions made by Chancellor Katehi to the campus, region, UC and the State of California.
    Significantly, Chancellor Katehi is one of few women to serve as Chancellor of a UC campus, and she is the first and only woman to serve as Chancellor of the UC Davis Campus. Her performance has been stellar, and she has led the UC Davis campus in pursuing its advancement goals and laying the foundation for a successful comprehensive campaign, among other important initiatives. She has been instrumental in pursuing additional funding for the UC Davis campus and for leading efforts to improve financial accountability and sound budget management.
    On April 25, 2016, President Janet Napolitano demanded that Chancellor Katehi meet with her at the UC offices in Oakland. When they met, President Napolitano immediately demanded Chancellor Katehi’s resignation from the university, with no explanation and without regard to Chancellor Katehi’s significant contributions to the campus, to the UC system and to her faculty rights under her employment agreement.
    President Napolitano demanded that she resign immediately. She threatened her, telling her that she would involve Chancellor Katehi’s family in an investigation. President Napolitano’s ruthless demands left Chancellor Katehi shocked and distraught. She urged President Napolitano to explain the basis for the request, but President Napolitano refused telling her instead that she had no letter prepared. President Napolitano persisted in demanding that she resign during that meeting and ignored Chancellor Katehi’s requests to allow her to speak with her husband and family. Chancellor Katehi told her that she could not resign without understanding the basis for the resignation and without speaking with her family.
    As Chancellor Katehi stood up to leave the meeting, President Napolitano demanded that she return the next day by 10:00 a.m. with her written resignation in hand. Needless to say, Chancellor Katehi was shocked and distressed by President Napolitano’s demands, the threats to her family and the lack of information provided.
    The following morning, I spoke to Ms. Woodall by telephone and informed her that Chancellor Katehi would not resign from the university. I also reminded her that she holds faculty rights under her employment agreement. I requested a meeting to discuss Chancellor

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 5
    Katehi’s future with the UC, and we eventually agreed to meet on Thursday, April 28th at the UC office in Oakland.
    After my discussions with Ms. Woodall, I learned that UC government relations representative Steve Juarez had informed legislators Tuesday and Wednesday that documents would be produced which would lead to an investigation and a forced resignation of Chancellor Katehi by that Thursday. I was stunned to learn from third parties that the UC was discussing a forced resignation of Chancellor Katehi even before our agreed upon meeting. I informed Ms. Woodall of this information on April 27th and called into question the UC’s good faith intentions to meet with us that Thursday as scheduled.
    Later on April 27, 2016 at 8:31 p.m., Ms. Woodall telephoned me to inform that President Napolitano had decided to place Chancellor Katehi on paid administrative leave, and that a letter confirming that leave would be sent to me via email. She told me during our call that the decision had been made because Chancellor Katehi had discussed President Napolitano’s meeting with her with members of the faculty and others, which called into question Chancellor Katehi’s intentions. I reminded Ms. Woodall that the UC lobbyist had reportedly informed legislators of a threatened investigation and resignation, which itself called into question the UC’s good faith intentions. I also informed her that we stood prepared to defend Chancellor Katehi’s reputation and integrity. Ms. Woodall also confirmed that our meeting for the next day was cancelled. Within minutes of our call, I received the letter placing Chancellor Katehi on paid administrative leave and which outlined allegations for an investigation. The issues included alleged nepotism, misrepresentations concerning social media contracts and a whistleblower complaint involving misuse of student fees.
    Later that evening, several television and news outlets, including the Sacramento Bee newspaper announced that President Napolitano had placed Chancellor Katehi on paid administrative leave. Most reports also included a copy of the two page letter sent to me confirming the leave and the allegations and whistleblower complaint. Since that time, the UC has also broadcast the allegations and alleged whistleblower complaint and offered statements about the facts to the news media.
    The UC also announced the appointment of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and attorney Melinda Haag as the “independent” and “neutral” investigator. Upon my queries, Ms. Woodall confirmed that the Orrick firm regularly represents the University of California in other matters and that Melinda Haag represented Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department while she served as US Attorney for the Northern District. We therefore objected to the appointment of attorney Haag and the Orrick firm as “independent” and “neutral” investigators, due to conflicts, and urged the appointment of a true independent and neutral investigator. I’ve received no response to that objection, and it appears the investigation continues.

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 6
    This formal complaint follows.
    Disparate, Discriminatory Treatment
    The UC was applauded when former President Mark Yudof hired Chancellor Katehi. She was seen as a star candidate, a loyal university servant and as an individual capable of redefining the mission of the campus, of increasing diversity for faculty, staff and students, and of renewing focus on the sciences. She was also complimented as an individual capable of advancing the campus in science, engineering and STEM education, research and advancement and in diversity. Since 2009, Chancellor Katehi has served as an icon for the campus constituents, and she has served as a role model for all students, and in particular for minority and women students. The UC, and in particular the UC Davis campus have a longstanding reputation for failing to recruit and retain minorities and women in positions of executive management. In fact, the UC Davis campus itself has a poor track record for recruiting, advancing and retaining minorities at all levels, and those who have risen to senior management positions have mysteriously been asked to leave or to resign. Chancellor Katehi’s appointment as chancellor gave hope to many for the future of the campus.
    Chancellor Katehi’s forced administrative leave is contrary to the past practices of the UC. Other Chancellors, all men, received favorable treatment when transitioning from their roles as UC Davis chancellors. Male chancellors have not been subjected to the harsh administrative leave or constructive termination presented to Chancellor Katehi. Instead, they were offered “soft landings”, have been allowed to announce retirements with nine months or more notice, have been directed to transition positions within other departments, sent “on assignment” to the UC office or they have been given paid leaves of absence for extended periods of time. In comparison, Chancellor Katehi’s abrupt administrative leave with disclosure of private and confidentiality information compels any objective observer to conclude that her treatment is based upon the fact that she is a woman.
    It is also clear that Chancellor Katehi has been treated differently in comparison to her male counterparts as concerns other aspects of her employment. Although UC policy permits Chancellors and senior managers to serve on corporate boards, Chancellor Katehi is the only individual who was forced to donate money from her service on a corporate board to the University. No other Chancellor or other senior executive has been forced to do so except Chancellor Katehi. Again, the facts lead to the reasonable conclusion that Chancellor Katehi was treated differently due solely to her gender.
    The conduct of the University of California and of President Janet Napolitano in discriminating against Chancellor Katehi because of her gender and providing her with false reasons for the paid administrative leave to cover up the true, discriminatory motives was willful, malicious, reckless, intentional, and in conscious disregard for her rights. Based upon

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 7
    the manner in which President Napolitano carried out the administrative leave, the public disclosure of confidential and private information, and the leaking of misleading or incomplete information to the media, I have no doubt that if required to proceed to litigation or trial, Chancellor Katehi will prove that the acts were carried out with oppression, fraud and/or malice, thus exposing the University of California to punitive damages.
    Violations of Right of Privacy and Defamation
    As a UC employee, Chancellor Katehi is owed a right of privacy with regard to her employment. The UC violated her privacy rights when President Napolitano placed Chancellor Katehi on administrative leave and announced it essentially to the world by disclosing private and confidential allegations to members of the media and making public the letter which announced her leave. The act of disclosing her administrative leave and violating her privacy rights was intentional and done with the intent to force Chancellor Katehi to resign out of duress.
    The conduct of the University of California and of President Janet Napolitano in violating the Chancellor’s right of privacy was willful, malicious, reckless, intentional, and in conscious disregard for her rights. Based upon the manner in which President Napolitano carried out the administrative leave, the public disclosure of confidential and private information, and the leaking of misleading or incomplete information to the media, I have no doubt that if required to proceed to litigation or trial, Chancellor Katehi will prove that the acts were carried out with oppression, fraud and/or malice, and with the intent to harm and defame Chancellor Katehi thus exposing the University of California to punitive damages.
    Violations of Confidentiality
    California law is clear that whistleblower complaints are by definition confidential in nature. The UC violated the confidential nature of a whistleblower complaint when President Napolitano placed Chancellor Katehi on administrative leave and disclosed the whistleblower complaint to members of the media and making public the letter which announced her leave. The act of disclosing the whistleblower complaint violated the Chancellor’s confidentiality rights as an alleged suspect in the complaint. The disclosure was intentional and was clearly done with the intent to force Chancellor Katehi to resign out of duress. Again, I have no doubt that if forced to file a lawsuit, Chancellor Katehi will prevail in obtaining an award for punitive damages.
    Retaliation
    Chancellor Katehi became the subject of Public Records Act requests by the Sacramento Bee and other media outlets earlier this year. The UC Office of the President refused to allow

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 8
    release of records in response to the requests, and in fact, it appears that the UCOP continues to withhold documents in response to the requests. For weeks, the UCOP allowed the media and therefore the public to believe that the delay in disclosure was at the hands of Chancellor Katehi, knowing full well that the UCOP and President Napolitano directly refused to allow disclosure.
    Certain of the documents eventually produced establish that President Napolitano was aware of Chancellor Katehi’s board appointments, and that 49 chancellors and senior managers hold outside corporate board positions consistent with UC policy. For weeks, the UCOP allowed the media and therefore the public to believe that Chancellor Katehi was alone in her board service, and allowed them to believe that Chancellor Katehi had never received approval for the appointment on the Wiley Board from the Office of the President.
    Upon learning the documents had been released to the media in response to the Public Records Act requests by the UC Davis campus, President Napolitano became angry at Chancellor Katehi. Clearly, she did not wish the documents to be released. At approximately the same time period, Chancellor Katehi appeared before the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee to discuss questions of nepotism and public records requested, which again, angered President Napolitano.
    Lastly, all of this also occurred at the same time periods that Chancellor Katehi had complained to President Napolitano that the UC Davis campus had been seriously underfunded by the UC given its ranking in the recruitment and retention of diverse students and faculty. Research confirmed that in fact UC Davis was and is sorely underfunded in comparison to other UC campuses, a fact which President Napolitano refused to resolve.
    As a result of Chancellor Katehi’s efforts to comply with the Public Records Act requests, and pointing out information concerning the vast underfunding of the UC Davis campus in comparison to other campuses, she believes that the basis for any disciplinary actions against her are pretextual and meant to disguise the discriminatory reasons for her treatment and the violations of public policy in connection with her treatment. Indeed, the outrageous act of President Napolitano in placing her on paid administrative leave, and making public the letter which announced her leave violated the Chancellor’s confidentiality and privacy rights, and was done in retaliation to Chancellor Katehi’s efforts to comply with the Public Records Act requests and her complaints about the significant underfunding of UC Davis. I have no doubt that if forced to file suit, Chancellor Katehi will recover punitive damages, in addition to other damages.
    Constructive Termination
    On April 27, 2016, the UC violated public policy by constructively discharging Chancellor Katehi in violation of her rights under California law. The actual reason for her constructive

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 9
    termination was based upon, among other things, the fact that she was discriminated against as a woman, her efforts to comply with the Public Records Act requests, and her complaints that UC Davis had been seriously underfunded in comparison to other campuses. If forced to file a lawsuit, Chancellor Katehi will prevail and will be awarded punitive damages, in addition to other requested relief.
    Defamation and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
    As a UC employee, Chancellor Katehi is owed a right of privacy with regard to her employment. As noted above, the UC violated her privacy and confidentiality rights when President Napolitano placed Chancellor Katehi on administrative leave and announced it to the world by disclosing private and confidential allegations to members of the media and making public the letter which announced her administrative leave. The act of disclosing her administrative leave and violating her privacy rights was intentional and done with the intent to force Chancellor Katehi to resign out of duress. The allegations referenced in the letter concerning nepotism, questions concerning Chancellor Katehi’s role with social media contracts and a whistleblower complaint regarding use of student fee income were drafted with incomplete or inaccurate information. The allegations and the disclosure of said allegations were intended to mislead the recipients into believing that Chancellor Katehi or her family members violated university policies. Furthermore, following the administrative leave, UC representatives continued to make statements to the media and public about Chancellor Katehi, her employment, the allegations, her family and the personnel action of placing her on administrative leave all with the intent to suggest to the media and to the public that Chancellor Katehi had in fact violated UC policies. The UC failed to exercise any reasonable care to determine the truth or the falsity of their statements, as is apparent by the fact that the UC Davis Academic Senate quickly reviewed the issues and opined within days that the same were false.
    The conduct of the UC and of President Janet Napolitano in violating the Chancellor’s right of privacy and confidentiality and engaging in defamation of her and of her family was willful, malicious, reckless, intentional, and in conscious disregard for her rights and the rights of her family members. Based upon the manner in which President Napolitano carried out the administrative leave, the public disclosure of confidential and private information, and the leaking of misleading or incomplete information to the media intended to defame Chancellor Katehi and her family, I have no doubt that if required to proceed to litigation or trial, Chancellor Katehi will prove that the acts were carried out with oppression, fraud and/or malice, that they constitute actionable defamation with the intent to harm and inflict emotional distress on Chancellor Katehi and her family thus exposing the UC to damages for the harm to Chancellor Katehi’s professional, occupation and reputation, emotional distress and punitive damages.

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 10
    The Allegations Against Chancellor Katehi are Wholly Without Merit
    President Napolitano’s letter of April 27, 2016 informed Chancellor Katehi that she was being placed on paid administrative leave for 90 days, during this time an independent investigator would be charged with investigating alleged violations of university polity concerning three general areas: (1) questions regarding employment of Chancellor Katehi’s husband, daughter-in-law and son, (2) concerns regarding alleged misstatements concerning Chancellor Katehi’s role in social media contracts, and (3) a whistleblowing complaint concerning misuse of student fee revenues. The allegations are completely without merit, and on their face establish the bad faith nature of the allegations of the entire handling of this matter by President Napolitano.
    Because these issues are the subject of a so-called independent and neutral
    investigation, I will not refute each allegation in this letter. However, I understand that the UCD Academic Senate provided written documentation and testimony to confirm the basis for its opinions to attorney Melinda Haag and the Orrick firm that each of the allegations are without merit.
    Demand for Damages
    Chancellor Katehi has been a dedicated, committed and loyal servant of the University of California. She has been recognized for her work in the sciences and in engineering, for her research and fundraising, for her work in mentoring students, and for her leadership as an administrator. On April 27, 2016, she was constructively terminated contrary to objective measures of success, her exceptional performance for UC Davis and for the UC system as a whole, and in violation of her rights under California and Federal laws. The abrupt administrative leave, the constructive termination of her employment as Chancellor, the public disclosure of confidential and private information, and the reckless or intentional disclosure of misleading or incomplete facts to the media and to the public threatens her continuing salary, her rights as a tenured faculty member and her retirement, and her standing with the university as a respected administrator, researcher and faculty member.
    This constructive termination threatens her ability to apply for or accept comparable employment given that the nature of her separation from the university and the outrageous disclosure of information will undoubtedly be construed as a termination and always calling into question her integrity and ethics. Chancellor Katehi has been irreparably harmed given the very public and outrageous way in which the UC and President Napolitano carried out this administrative leave. If these matters are not resolved in a timely manner, Chancellor Katehi will have no choice but to seek compensation for lost salary, retirement benefits, and the substantial and irreparable harm to her reputation and character. In addition, her family has suffered as a result of these public allegations, which has also resulted in harm to them.

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 11
    In addition to damages related to her professional reputation, salary and retirement, Chancellor Katehi has also been damaged to her health. This abrupt administrative leave and public defamation has caused her to suffer loss of sleep, panic attacks and depression. She has been ill with the grief associated with the very shocking demand that she resign “from the university” and the very public disclosure of the action to place her on administrative leave, with disclosure of the letter and private and confidential information concerning the allegations made public to the media and to the public. She is also worried about her husband, son and daughter-in-law who have been slandered by the disclosure of incomplete, inaccurate information which has harmed their professional reputation. If these matters are not resolved in a timely manner, Chancellor Katehi will be forced to seek compensation for damages to her health and reputation, in addition to other damages, which will be sought if this matter proceeds to litigation.
    Demand for Third Party Meeting
    The Personnel Policies for Senior Managers and these egregious facts compel the appointment of an independent third party to review facts, provide an opportunity to Chancellor Katehi to present witnesses and evidence, and to submit a report of the facts to the Board of Regents to resolve these claims. On behalf of Chancellor Katehi, I demand the appointment of a mutually agreed upon, independent and neutral third party to resolve these disputes. This appointment should be made within the next 15 days to ensure timely and good faith efforts to resolve these claims.
    President Napolitano demanded that Chancellor Katehi announce her resignation, and she has now commenced the investigation to be conducted by attorney Melinda Haag and the Orrick firm. As previously noted, I object to their appointment as the independent and neutral investigators regarding the April 27, 2016 allegations. The Orrick firm regularly represents the UC in legal matters. Ms. Haag also regularly represented Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Both the Orrick firm and Ms. Haag have conflicts of interest in serving as independent or neutral investigators, especially where under the alleged facts, President Napolitano is a witness.
    As an alumna of the University of California, Davis, I am deeply disappointed that President Napolitano has taken these offensive and unprecedented steps to terminate Chancellor Katehi. As a former member of the Board of Trustees of the California State University system, I strongly believe that this personnel matter was improperly managed by President Napolitano. This letter provides the UC with an opportunity to in good faith reflect on these actions and to engage in good faith discussions to resolve these claims and to avoid unnecessary litigation. Under any objective standard, President Napolitano’s actions against Chancellor Katehi subject the UC to criticism and liability.

    Charles F. Robinson, Esq.
    Re: Chancellor Katehi
    May 26, 2016
    Page 12
    Please contact me within seven (7) days to discuss this letter. I welcome an early meeting to discuss these very important issues. While we wish to avoid filing a lawsuit, we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit to protect Chancellor Katehi’s integrity as a respected engineer, tenured faculty member and leader of the university based upon the egregious, offensive, reckless and intentional acts of President Napolitano described in this letter.
    I will await your timely response.
    Very truly yours,

  3. Pingback: Katehi Resigns | ACADEME BLOG

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