Photo courtesy Purdue University

Linda Katehi is the UC Davis chancellor. She took office on August 17, 2009, succeeding Larry Vanderhoef, making her the sixth person to hold the office. 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. She has often been the target of intense criticism for her decisions. Despite these challenges, she continues her efforts to push UC Davis into the 21st Century with Higher Education, Sustainability, and STEM innovations.


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.

November 2011 Pepper Spraying

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.

Other controversies

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). For comparison, the two highest-paid UC employees are Cal football coach Jeff Tedford and UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland, each of whom has guaranteed compensation of $1,900,000 plus bonuses. Various UC doctors, and several other coaches and athletic directors, had compensation of $500,000 or more in 2000/10. The two highest administrative salaries at UC Davis are those of Ann Rice ($887,663), the CEO of the Medical Center, and Claire Pomeroy ($803,247), the vice chancellor of Human Health Services and CEO of the Health System. Along with other UC's top administrators, Katehi has taken at least a 10% pay reduction in the years following her appointment.

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.

Involvement in STEM

STEM education is more than just science, technology, engineering or mathematics; it is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with real-world, problem-based learning. This bridging among the four discrete disciplines is now known as STEM. STEM education removes the traditional barriers erected between the four disciplines by integrating them into one cohesive teaching and learning paradigm(What is STEM?).

Linda was Honored as one of the 12 “Leading Women in STEM” for Advancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education. These Business, Education, and Nonprofit Women Leaders were Honored at California STEM Summit for Achievements in Bolstering STEM Education and Job Creation Across California.

The Leading Women in STEM awards recognize their achievements in advancing innovative and effective STEM education initiatives across the state and serving as exemplary role models for California women and girls.

The California STEM Summit is a statewide leadership convening of business, government, education, nonprofit and philanthropic luminaries to spark change in STEM education and workforce development and launch new STEM education initiatives. The Summit is convened by the nonprofit California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), which works to bring systemic change to how STEM is taught and learned in California in order to prepare the nation’s most STEM-capable graduates.

Recognizing the dramatic need for increasing the number of women in STEM fields – only 25% of STEM jobs in the U.S. are held by women – CSLNet is highlighting accomplished women STEM leaders and supporting initiatives across California to bolster STEM education for female students, noting that women with STEM jobs earn 33% more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs.

“The California STEM Learning Network is proud to honor these highly accomplished education, industry, non-profit and civic leaders for their innovative and successful efforts to create world-class STEM education across California,” said Chris Roe, California STEM Learning Network CEO. “Their leadership will ensure that our next generation of leaders is truly reflective of the great diversity and talent that we have in our state.”

Leading Women In STEM

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?