There must be an ancient Greek play that deals with the folly of allowing a disgraced, demoted official to hang around the seat of power. What good can possibly come of it?
University of California officials probably wish they had fired former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi for bringing shame to the esteemed campus with her self-aggrandizing ways. Instead, they rewarded her with a year’s salary — $424,360, plus retirement and health benefits – to help her transition into a respectable role as an engineering professor.
Less than five months after her forced resignation, Katehi became the focal point of controversy when she was nominated to lead UCD’s Feminist Research Institute. The institute’s board, composed of nine female faculty members, filed a request in November to name Katehi its new director, said a UC Davis spokeswoman, according to a Sacramento Bee story that didn’t emerge until Dec. 7.
The story immediately ignited a backlash. Here are a few comments from the Bee’s website:
How it is possible that Katehi is not fired? She did not get any support from the regents, Napolitano and Governor Brown, who nominates regents and is formally the president of the Board of the UC Regents. Don’t you think that something is wrong with the whole picture? Who is protecting Katehi and why?
This con artist needs to be in jail.
She used the UC system in a most abhorrent way. … I don’t think she is a real good role model for feminism or human kind for that matter.
The Davis Enterprise reported that organizers of the “Fire Katehi” Facebook group had circulated a strong protest letter deriding the nomination and calling it “a troubling disconnect between the board of the Feminist Research Institute and the students of UC Davis.”
In a surprising turn of events Monday, UCD officials confirmed that Katehi had turned down the nomination to head the feminist institute. No further explanation was given in the Bee’s story. Members of the institute’s board would not return calls or emails, the Bee said. There was no comment from Katehi.
However, the former chancellor told the Enterprise she hadn’t spoken to the feminist institute’s board, did not know it had nominated her and learned about it from a story in the Bee. Even so, she said she didn’t have any bad feelings about having been nominated.
Is Katehi, accused of dishonesty by UC officials a few months ago, to be believed? Were her supporters floating a trial balloon? Why would the feminist institute’s board want to be associated with someone with such a tattered reputation?
Whatever the answers, Katehi’s presence on the UC Davis campus continues to be an embarrassment to a university obviously in need of leadership.