On Friday, the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall was half full of Davis affiliates eager to welcome their next chancellor to the UC Davis family.
Just one day prior to the welcoming reception, UC regents approved Linda Katehi as chancellor of UC Davis, beginning Aug. 17.
The reception started at 11:15 a.m. with speeches made by current Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, president of the UC system Mark Yudof, vice chairman of the board of regents Russell Gould, chair of the UC Davis Academic Senate Robert Powell and Dr. Katehi herself. Following the reception, those in attendance met outside the Mondavi Center to personally meet Katehi.
“I’m truly looking forward to working here,” said Katehi, who had just arrived in Davis for her first time on Thursday. “I met with the all the deans and the vice chancellors and that group is amazing. These people are very, very eager to take the university to the next level, and I’m looking forward to working with them. It’s a great team.“
Katehi, a native of Greece, will be stepping down from her position as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has spent a total of 18 years as an administrator for three different universities.
Katehi is also an expert in electronic circuit design, meriting 16 patents for her inventions, which have been used in cellular phones and military radar.
“You have an extraordinary person here to succeed Larry Vanderhoef,” Yudof told attendees in his introduction of Katehi. “She has done so much in her professional life … and she is a tremendous match for UC Davis.“
Yudof outlined various other achievements Katehi has made around the U.S., including her education at UCLA. He noted that Katehi is the chair of the presidential search committee, which selects the winners of the National Medal of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
In Katehi’s speech she addressed some of the challenges she is prepared to face, as well as the expectations of the university she hopes to meet.
“I spoke with a lot of colleagues, and the message that I received from them [about this university] was very consistent: UC Davis is a university with a great past and an even greater future,” she said.
In the following reception outside the Mondavi Center, Katehi said the first item on her agenda will be to familiarize herself with the UC Davis community.
“I will spend my first two or three months just visiting units, meeting with people – faculty, staff and students and alumni and friends of the university,” Katehi said. “I’ll go to as many places as I can and ask them to tell me about the campus. I’d like to hear their opinion about the UC Davis campus and I’d like to hear their ideas about where to go.“
Chancellor Vanderhoef expressed his confidence in Katehi’s leadership skills, although considering he has been with the university for 25 years, he also mentioned that he will miss working with the office of the chancellor.
“I have mixed feelings [about handing off my position],” he said. “But I am very relieved in the regents‘ selection of Linda. She’s extraordinarily talented and I feel very comfortable with the university in her hands.“
Vanderhoef will step down as chancellor on July 1 to take a yearlong sabbatical. He will return the following year to teach at UC Davis.
Katehi will earn significantly more than Vanderhoef as chancellor. Her annual salary will be $400,000 per year, according to an article in The Sacramento Bee. She will also receive a relocation allowance of $100,000, in addition to a house and a $9,000 car allowance.
The reason for this increase, Yudof said in the article, was to match her salary at the University of Illinois, where she made $356,000 per year. It is also a competitive price to attract Katehi, who, given her accomplishments, might be paid more at a private institution.
Many students across the UC system have spoken out against such pay increases, especially after the regents‘ approval on Thursday of a 9.3 percent increase in student fees. Administrators have pointed to the various sources of financial aid in reaction to the criticism and have stated that the fee increase was a last resort move.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.