Written by The Business Journal Staff
(AP) — The embattled chancellor of the University of California, Davis, resigned Tuesday following an investigation launched amid questions about her role in the hiring of image consultants to counter bad publicity from a pepper-spraying debacle on campus in 2011.
Linda Katehi offered her resignation Tuesday, saying that she would return to teaching and emphasizing that the investigation had cleared her of accusations involving nepotism, travel expenses and retaliatory practices.
The report, however, did find that Katehi played down her knowledge of and role in the university’s hiring of social media consultants to minimize negative information online about the school and herself.
Katehi’s resignation ends months of turmoil at the Northern California public university known for its agricultural and veterinary studies. Students and lawmakers who had called for her resignation said the campus can now move forward.
“It did the UC Davis community no good for her to continue to hold onto her office at the expense of our community,” said Alex T. Lee, president of the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis in an email to The Associated Press. “I think it frustrated students that she held on, especially with paid leave.”
Katehi has been on leave since April, when UC President Janet Napolitano failed to secure the chancellor’s resignation, prompting the independent investigation.
Napolitano accepted Katehi’s resignation Tuesday. It is effective immediately.
Napolitano said in a statement that the investigation found numerous instances where Katehi was not candid with her office, exercised poor judgment and violated university policies.
“These past three months and the events leading up to them have been an unhappy chapter in the life of UC Davis,” Napolitano said.
Katehi, who became chancellor in 2009, will return to being a tenured full-time faculty member with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and with the Interdisciplinary Program of Gender, Sexuality and Women Studies.
She has been a fierce advocate of getting more women into engineering and science.
The Sacramento Bee report in April that the university had contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to clean up its online reputation after campus police famously pepper sprayed student demonstrators at an Occupy event in 2011.
Katehi told Napolitano and the Sacramento Bee’s editorial board that she was “not aware of these particular contracts” and not involved in the contracts. The report states she appears to have violated UC policies requiring that she conduct herself “honestly in all dealings.”
The report found that the chancellor’s statements “were misleading, at best, or untruthful, at worst.”
The report also concluded that Katehi played no role in the employment of her son and daughter-in-law, although it found that she failed to exercise diligence and judgment in joining the boards related to two outside universities.
She quit her $70,000-a-year position with the for-profit DeVry Education Group in March amid criticism.