Photo courtesy Purdue University

Linda Katehi was the UC Davis chancellor from 2009 though 2016.  She took office on August 17, 2009, succeeding Larry Vanderhoef, making her the sixth person to hold the office, and resigned on August 9, 2016.. UC President Mark Yudof appointed Katehi on May 1, 2009, and the UC Regents confirmed the appointment at their May 7 meeting. Katehi has presided over the university at a time of dramatic conflict and change over budget and policy issues—which has also been true of every chancellor since Emil Mrak. She has often been the target of intense criticism for her decisions, and her tenure has been marred by multiple controversies (see below). Despite these challenges, she has continued her efforts to push UC Davis into the 21st Century with Higher Education, Sustainability, and STEM innovations. She became internationally infamous for being the official in charge of the Pepper Spray Cop and subsequently trying to cover it up.  She was asked to resign by Janet Napolitano, but refused; on April 27th, 2016, it was reported that UC President Janet Napolitano placed Katehi on administrative leave for a minimum of 90 days, and initiated an investigation into Katehi's actions as chancellor, including potential violations of University conflict-of-interest policies and requirements related to the employment of near relatives, violations of requirements regarding the proper use of Student Service Fee revenue, potential material misstatements regarding her role in the social media contracts, and a complaint that has been made under the Whistleblower Policy that certain student fee revenues were misused by the campus specifically by being directed to unapproved instructional purposes.  Ralph J. Hexter served as the acting Chancellor while Katehi was on leave.

Katehi submitted her resignation on August 9, 2016, which was accepted by Napolitano the following day. The report on the independent review of the allegations cleared her of allegations about nepotism and travel reimbursement, but found she was not candid about her service on the DeVry Board and minimized her knowledge of social media contracts. Katehi retains her appointment as a member of the faculty in the department of electrical and computer engineering, as well as with the interdisciplinary program of gender, sexuality and women studies.


Katehi's first exposure to student activism was in Greece, where she was born on the island of Salamis in 1954. The Athens Polytechnic uprising took place while she was attending the National Technical University of Athens, an experience she mentioned in her brief address at the Nov. 21, 2011 rally on the Quad. She graduated from NTUA in 1977 and made her way to the U.S. (though she retained a distinct Greek accent), where she received a Ph.D. from UCLA in 1984. She then became faculty at the University of Michigan and rose through the ranks to become associate dean for academic affairs. In 2002 she became dean of engineering at Purdue. In 2006 she became provost at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2009 she came to UC Davis. At Davis she has a joint faculty appointment in Electrical and Computer Engineering and in the department of Women and Gender Studies.

In her engineering research, Katehi worked on MEMS devices — "Microelectromechanical systems" — on silicon chips. Some of her papers are about microscopic, mechanical versions of devices similar to old-fashioned radio dials (variable capacitors and tunable filters) and on-off switches (isolation switches). Her lab at Michigan produced hundreds of papers and a number of patents. While some have been surprised (there aren't that many female electrical engineers, especially those with experience needed to assume such a prestigious office), former Chancellor Denise Denton of UC Santa Cruz (who died in 2006) was also an EE.

She has commented on the California Master Plan in the Sac Bee, and written about her perspective on education and the federal government for The Huffington Post.


Pepper Spraying Incident

An international furor brought Katehi to the brink of resignation in November 2011 after she ordered campus police to remove tents that students had peacefully set up in protest on the Quad. Images of unprovoked UCDPD officers casually pepper-spraying nonviolent protesters went viral online and quickly spread to regional, national and international news media. The news led to an uproar that culminated in one of the largest demonstrations in UC Davis history, as well as a petition with over 100,000 signatures demanding her resignation. Katehi apologized but refused to resign, instead putting the police chief and two officers on paid administrative leave and promising to assemble a task force to investigate the incident. Then on November 23, in an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Katehi said that she only told the campus police "to remove the tents or the equipment", that she told them "very specifically to do it peacefully, and if there were too many of them, not to do it, if the students were aggressive, not to do it. And then we told them we also do not want to have another Berkeley" (referring to the UC Berkeley protesters who were jabbed with nightsticks the week before, spurring the Occupy UC Davis movement).

In a number of forums after the pepper-spraying incident, Katehi stated that she had tried to meet with the students who were sprayed but was rebuffed. However, one of the pepper-sprayed students, Jerika Heinze, had a different story to tell. A Huffington Post blog entry by Professor Bob Ostertag describes how her repeated phone calls to the Chancellor's office (answered by a woman named Allison) yielded no reply. So, when Jerika heard that the Chancellor was set to testify at a hearing at the state Capitol on December 14, 2011, Jerika confronted the Chancellor in the corridor as she was leaving the hearing, a confrontation that was all over the local news. Finally, she got an appointment with Katehi; however, Katehi cut the meeting short, saying that it was like an "interrogation" and that she would meet with Jerika again on some unspecified future date. The Chancellor's office maintains that Jerika did not contact her office, even though she has the phone records and even though Bob Ostertag's call to the same number yielded a woman named Allison who answered, "Chancellor's Office."

The Academic Senate voted on two motions, one expressing confidence and one expressing no confidence in Katehi's leadership due in part to the events of November 18, 2011, in addition to a third motion condemning the actions of the campus police on that day. The voting closed on February 17, 2012 at 5:00PM. The "confidence" motion and the motion condemning the campus police passed; the "no confidence" vote failed. (See Academic Senate page for further details). Even if the "no confidence" voted had passed, Chancellor Katehi would not have been required to resign.

Title IX Cuts

On April 15th 2010, Katehi eliminated four sports from UC Davis Athletics, cutting women's crew, men's swimming, men's indoor track, and men's wrestling. In June 2010, 100 students filed grievances with Student Judicial Affairs over the cuts. On June 24th, Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) wrote an open letter to Katehi calling into question the position of UC Davis and Title IX given the cutting of the women's crew team, saying "Certainly, some could argue that this action calls into question the sincerity of UC Davis’ commitment to gender equity during the 2009 settlement agreement negotiations." 


Partly because Katehi was hired at the beginning of the budget crisis, several newspapers reports and some state legislators drew attention to her starting total compensation (salary plus benefits) of $400,000, a 27% increase over Vanderhoef's compensation (WSWS, KTVU). Along with other UC's top administrators, Katehi has taken at least a 10% pay reduction in the years following her appointment. Editors have noted her salary was neither the largest in the UC System or at UCD.

External Board Memberships

In 2016, Katehi became subject of renewed controversy. Students had been occupying the reception area outside Katehi’s office in Mrak Hall since March 11,  2016, when a protest march seeking her ouster turned into a sit-in. The reason for their protest was Katehi accepting a seat on the board of DeVry Education Group while already being heavily overpaid as the UC Davis Chancellor. She received $420,000 in compensation as a board member for John Wiley & Sons, a leading publisher of science, engineering and math textbooks for universities. Katehi served on the Wiley board from 2012 to 2014, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. She received $125,000 in pay and stock in 2012, $144,000 in 2013 and $151,000 in 2014. The day before Picnic Day 2016 the students temporarily ended their protest.

About her appointment to the board of the for-profit college DeVry, she proclaimed, "DeVry Group's goal to enable a quality learning experience that inspires and educated students to be our next generation of leaders is essential to our nation's progress."  Sandra Fried at UCOP was less convinced about the national indispensibility of DeVry, stating in an email to UCD, "I think the issue really is DeVry rather than the income [Katehi receives as a board member].  DeVry is considered a very bad actor in the private postsecondary world (which is saying a lot)."

Pepper Spraying Incident Coverup

In April, the Sacramento Bee published a series of articles about UC Davis spending  at least $175,000 UC Davis money to try wiping internet results about the 2011 pepper spraying incident. Katehi published a video response on April 18, 2016.

A followup by the Sacramento Bee in August of 2016 indicated that Katehi was involved in hiring three separate PR firms for a total of $407,000, to "repair her online image, as well as that of UC Davis."  One of the PR firms "focused on editing the Davis LocalWiki page, according to an April 2015 Idmloco email to Katehi Chief of Staff Karl Engelbach".

Work and Positions

Since her early years as a faculty member, Chancellor Katehi has focused on expanding research opportunities for undergraduates and improving the education and professional experience of graduate students, with an emphasis on underrepresented groups. Katehi has mentored more than 70 postdoctoral fellows, doctoral and master’s students in electrical and computer engineering. Twenty-two of the forty-four doctoral students who graduated under her supervision have become faculty members at research universities in the United States and abroad.

Katehi's work in electronic circuit design has led to numerous national and international awards both as a technical leader and educator, 19 U.S. patents, and an additional five U.S. patent applications. She is the author or co-author of 10 book chapters and about 650 refereed publications in journals and symposia proceedings.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, she chaired until 2010 the President’s Committee for the National Medal of Science and the Secretary of Commerce’s committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. She is a fellow and board member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of other national boards and committees, including the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board.

In April 2011, Katehi was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also on the Board of Directors of John Wiley & Sons.

Previously held positions include the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, and associate dean for academic affairs and graduate education in the College of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan. She is on the Board of Directors for EMAG Technologies, Inc. a defense contractor in Ann Arbor specializing in electromagnetic simulation software, and closely allied with the University of Michigan EE/CS department.

University of Illinois

Before coming to UC Davis, Katehi served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She oversaw the admissions office during much of the time period that came to be investigated as part of the University of Illinois clout scandal. Katehi denied involvement, saying the "Category I" decisions were made at higher administrative levels.

University of California, Davis

Katehi was appointed chancellor by the University of California Board of Regents on May 7, 2009, effective August 17, 2009. She holds UC Davis faculty appointments in electrical and computer engineering and in women and gender studies. Katehi charged a committee with creating a new "Vision of Excellence" for the school. Vision of She also launched several blue ribbon committees: tech transfer and commercialization, research, information technology excellence, and organizational excellence. Katehi also created the Chancellor's Colloquium Distinguished Speaker Series to bring together distinguished scholars and government leaders who promise intellectual spark and enriching engagement with our academic community. As of 2009, Katehi's base annual salary was $400,000.

In response to acts of hate and intolerance on campus in 2010, Katehi launched the Hate-Free Campus Initiative to reaffirm the campus’s values and commitment to one another. The initiative included creation of "Beyond Tolerance Tuesday," collaboration with the Museum of Tolerance, and the creation of a speakers series and the Civility Project, which began with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Under Katehi's leadership, UC Davis co-hosted the Governors' Global Climate Summit 3: Building the Green Economy in November 2010. Participants included Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Environment Programme. The summit’s focus was to continue to build sub-national collaboration on policies and strategies to stimulate economic growth, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, create green jobs, promote clean energy solutions and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Katehi and UC Davis have stated that they have a goal of becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution by increasing the number of Latino students to make up 25% of the undergraduate student body.


Linda Katehi: Who Is STEM Education For? (video)





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2009-08-28 03:23:44   Linda K. needs to revitalize this struggling campus. None of the new buildings being built look architecturally nice. WiFi is slow. The homepage is ugly. The financial aid people are b*tches. I have many more suggestions! —OscarWao

2009-12-23 16:54:14   her accent is THICK! —StevenDaubert

2010-07-10 14:41:37   Katehi has made decisions that have hurt many students in her first year. She should no longer have a job. She hurts more students than she helps. She has no idea what is best for student/athletes at UC Davis or the people who pay her salary. She is paid more than our President of the United States.... does anyone really think she is worth it ?? especially in a budget crisis? This is what is wrong with California... when under qualified people like Katehi make salaries that could pay three people generously. When will they start running State entities like a business that could actually be successful??? Katehi has a shady past from her former University and she is no good for California.


2011-11-21 16:44:29   It just really disturbs me how she keeps trying to say that she cares about student safety, as if that doesn't contradict what actually happened.. She never seems to show compassion for the students who have been victimized by the point-blank shots of pepper spray. She just says stock phrases like "it's terrible" when questioned directly about it. I feel both simultaneously sorry and angry for her disillusionment. I don't blame her directly for the incident, but it's sad to see someone who is so cold and calculating in the face of it. She is paid a massive amount of money to represent the school. I would expect more; at least a heartfelt moment of sympathy, but she seems more concerned about her own safety. Unfortunately, she embodies the overall cold and impersonal experience I had at UC Davis. I enjoyed several of the professors, but the administration was as heartless as a robot. —ScottMeehleib

2011-11-21 17:33:06   Linda, this is going to sound inappropriate, but I just beat Mega Man 7 for the 3rd time in my life. I couldn't complete UC Davis but I could kick Dr. Wily's ass. UC Davis requires bags of money to attend and Mega Man requires passion, nerves of steel, and good hand-eye coordination. You should try it Linda. You are in my prayers, dear. —ScottMeehleib

2011-11-21 20:37:34   Regardless of how one might feel about the pepper spraying, I must say that Ms Katehi did a truly inspired job of throwing Chief Spicuzza under the bus for the incident. —JimStewart

2011-11-22 09:33:23   Yudof & Texas Gov.Perry & hyper-inflation

Gov. Perry brought in a fellow named Yudof to be chancellor of the UT system; Yudof and Republican state senator Shapiro launched a campaign to amend the Texas constitution to repeal the regulation which prevented the state schools from increasing tuition by more than 3% per annum; the constitution was changed and tuition at UT Austin went up > 100% within 2 years, as predicted in the business section of the Dallas Morning News. Thanx Perry…it’s called hyper-inflation…you see Perry & Yudof wanted to turn UT Austin into a state operated concierge school, a Texas taxpayer funded Yale University...didn't tuitions surge in California after the arrival of Yudof …and tuition's still surging at ALL PUBLIC Texas colleges thanks to YUDOF.

Kaheti is Yudof's creature.

Is Yudof an AH-nold appointee?


2016-09-27 18:28:19   Whaaaattt! She paid for editing the Wiki Davis!? —ConstantiaOomen

  • Based on this page's history and the timelines in that article, it doesn't look like they ever got around to trying to edit Davis Wiki. -DavidGrundler
    • David, I'm not so sure, we would have to look into that. Who would be this mysterious window washer? Would be interesting to find out. Linda Katehi must have (had) a poor understanding of the Internet, because all this money she spent was in vain, what good could have done with it! And she still got a very big, nice sum of money to live on happily ever after. Possibly, it's all that counts to some people. ConstantiaOomen
    • I'm pretty sure they did a fair amount of editing of this page.  See: ref, ref, all edits by and and some other edits in the history.  Looks like almost all of the edits were removed in subsequent edits as obvious PR fluff. Note that none of the edits are obviously malicious; they are instead mostly additions of lots of biographical fluff.  -PhilipNeustrom
    • Almost all of these edits removed anyway, and edits made by quite unknown contributors? Thanks, Philip. To me, again, it seems odd that someone in a leading position at UC Davis couldn't be smart enough to figure out you can't wipe out history. You can try to outrun it, but it's always there at the finish line anyway, always finishing first.  ConstantiaOomen