California legislators continue to push for UC Davis’s chancellor’s resignation

UC DavisTwo state lawmakers took to Twitter on Thursday and joined the growing chorus of Democratic legislators who are calling for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi after a series of unflattering stories by The Sacramento Bee.

On Wednesday, The Sacramento Bee reported that the university paid consultants at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative postings about thepepper-spraying of students in 2011, in an effort to improve the school’s and the chancellor’s reputations.

The Bee also reported that between 2009 and 2015, the school’s strategic communications budget increased from $2.93 million to $5.47 million.

In response, Democratic Assemblymembers Freddie Rodriguez of Pomona and Mike Gatto of Los Angeles took to Twitter to condemn Katehi and demand her resignation.

Other incidents

In March, it was reported that Katehi, who receives $424,360 annually as chancellor, earned an additional $420,000 between 2012 and 2014 as a board member for textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons.

Katehi had also came under fire in March for violating University of California policy by accepting a $70,000 per-year seat on the board of DeVry, a for-profit university.

Katehi has since stepped down from DeVry board and pledged $200,000 in John Wiley & Sons stock to a scholarship fund. And she apologized.

But those actions weren’t enough and Democratic Assemblymembers Luis Alejo of Watsonville, Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, Kevin McCarty of Sacramento and Evan Low of Campbell had called for her resignation, who Gatto and Rodriguez have now joined.

In Katehi’s defense

UC Davis spokesperson Dana Topousis would not say whether Katehi intended to step down (which likely means the answer is “no”). In a statement responding to only the most recent article from The Sacramento Bee, Topousis defended the overall cost of communications.

Here is the entire statement:

“Communicating the value of UC Davis is an essential element of our campus’s education, research, and larger public service mission. Increased investment in social media and communications strategy has heightened the profile of the university to good effect.

“As part of this overall communications strategy, it is important that the excellent work underway at UC Davis with respect to educating the next generation of students, pursuing groundbreaking research, and providing important services to the State is not lost during a campus crisis, including the crisis that ensued following the extremely regrettable incident when police pepper-sprayed student protesters in 2011. Communication efforts during this time were part of the campus’s strategic communication strategy. In fact, one of the main objectives during this time was to train staff on how to effectively use digital media to improve engagement with our stakeholders.

“Communicating the value of UC Davis is among the many reasons why our campus was able to increase its endowment to $1 billion last year, garner more than $700 million in research grants, and attract the highest caliber of students and faculty from around the country, with a record number of student applications this year.

“Most of the growth in the communications budget is tied to raising the visibility of our College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine, both rated the best in the nation.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com