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Friday, October 22, 2021

Chancellor advising committee hosts series of townhall discussions

BRIANA NGO / AGGIE
BRIANA NGO / AGGIE

Search for Katehi replacement continues

A series of public town halls were held on Oct. 11 at UC Davis’ Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, where members of the University were invited to express their concerns in the search for a new chancellor. The sessions were hosted by members of the search advisory committee, a group of representatives selected by University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano, to assist in the search for viable candidates.

Student influence in this process is very important, as it is only through the diverse voices of our students that the University continues to serve our needs,” said Rachael Goodhue, professor and chair of Agricultural and Resource Economics and chair of the Davis Academic Senate, via e-mail. “We must voice our input to ensure that future generations of UC Davis students have a chancellor worthy of our institution.”

The town halls began at 8 a.m. and lasted throughout the afternoon. Ari Kelman, a professor of history and a member of a five-person faculty subcommittee in the search advisory committee, believes that the faculty and students in attendance had constructive feedback for the committee.

The point of a town hall meeting, according to Kelman, is to offer campus constituencies the opportunity to share any qualities they desire in a new chancellor with the faculty subcommittee and chancellor’s advisory search committee.

“In this particular town hall, we heard from staff and we heard from people who were very eloquent about what they are hoping to see. We heard about some of the challenges that they face and whoever is hired into this position likely may face,” Kelman said. “We heard about some of the things that make this campus really great. All of these things are exactly what we’re looking for out of these town halls so that we can then go back to the full search advisory committee and help make the very best and most informed decisions that we possibly can in the course of this process.”

The advisory committee convened for its first meeting on Sept. 27 in the ARC Pavilion. As the UC hopes to have a qualified candidate by January, the committee will assist Napolitano with input and suggestions until then. After the President has selected a candidate, she will present them to the regents who will then hold a vote.

Shane White, the vice chair of the systemwide Academic Senate leadership, said that faculty and students have brought up several recurring concerns.

“I think a couple of themes have come across very clearly and one very important one is pride in the incredible success of UC Davis and a desire to continue on an upward trajectory,” White said. “We’re here to listen, we’re here to understand from the people who are here, the students, the staff, the faculty [and] what they believe.”

Representatives of the advisory committee who were present at the town halls also included Elly Oltersdorf, the undergraduate student representative,  Brian Riley, the graduate student representative and former chair of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), Jessica Potts, chief administrative officer in the Department of Chemistry, and Oscar Dubon, former chair of the UC Davis Staff Assembly and professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley.

Katrina Brock, the chair of GSA who was present at the undergraduate and graduate student town halls, had concerns about the selection process.

“Overwhelmingly, it seems like people are just frustrated with the process and the fact that no matter how much on-campus engagement the student reps and the faculty reps do, there’s ultimately one person who’s going to make the decision,” Brock said. “And I think people really want to change that, and that’s the conversation that they want to have before having the conversation of what we want in a chancellor.”
Written by: Ivan Valenzuela – campus@theaggie.org

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