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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Guest Opinion: Katehi unfit to be chancellor

BRIAN NGUYEN / AGGIE
BRIAN NGUYEN / AGGIE

I have lost confidence that Chancellor Linda Katehi can effectively represent UC Davis. This comes as a direct result of her decision to join the board of directors for DeVry University and from her past involvement on the board of John Wiley & Sons. Her actions demonstrate a complete disregard for student interests and a commitment to her own self-gain.

Shortly after accepting the DeVry position, lawmakers in Sacramento and public interest groups voiced their concern over a potential conflict of interest. DeVry University is a for-profit university that is currently engaged in a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegedly fraudulent claims the university made in regard to the earnings and employment prospects of its graduates. Another point of concern is that as a public servant, Chancellor Katehi earns $424,360. In addition to her current salary, the board position would have paid $70,000 annually, plus an additional $100,000 in stocks. It is outrageous that she feels justified in earning even more money when students are struggling to pay for school. Under pressure, Katehi resigned from the DeVry Board after eight days.

Joining the board for DeVry University is not the first major mistake the Chancellor has made. From 2012 to 2014, she sat on the board of John Wiley and Sons, a textbook publisher. During this three-year period, she was compensated $421,215, of which a little less than half came in the form of stocks from the publisher. In a time when the cost of textbooks is a controversial issue, Chancellor Katehi sided with and profited from a corporation that benefits at the financial expense of students.

It is worth noting that it is commonplace for university presidents or chancellors to have positions on various boards. The president of Stanford, for example, serves on the board of Cisco Systems. The connection between education and industry develops beneficial relationships that can generate funding or jobs for graduating students. However, it is an issue when our chancellor accepts positions on boards that gain financially from students. These organizations profit through the exploitation of students.

The list of questionable decisions the chancellor has made lengthens as we look through her tenure. In 2011, her policies instigated the infamous pepper spray incident that garnered national attention. Last year, in the middle of the tuition increase dispute, she hired Joanna Regulska as the chief global strategist for $250,000, an expense that has yet to be justified.

We, the students of UC Davis, are being taken advantage of by a corrupt administrator who has demonstrated a commitment to companies that profit on the students she represents. She is a blemish on the reputation of UC Davis and the UC system. There is no apology sincere or scholarship fund large enough to repair the damage dealt by Chancellor Katehi. The fact that she could not recognize the conflict of interests in taking her board positions is deeply distressing and further demonstrates her disinterest in the concerns of students. Therefore, the only appropriate action moving forward is her resignation — such would be reparation to the students she has betrayed for her own personal wealth.

JOHANN PRAMBS is a second-year biomedical engineer major.

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