More on Dirks + Media Coverage 8/26/16

Reactions to Dirks’ eventual resignation continue to swirl, but not much has actually changed. The plan is still for the chancellor to remain in place until a successor is found toward the end of the school year. In other news, Dirks has officially called for an indefinite suspension of the Global Campus in Richmond.

 

Dirks Fallout

8/24 – What Berkeley’s Problem Is Not (RemakingtheUniversity): A look at Berkeley’s budget issues with a focus on the process of “rebenching,” by which the UC system created a more equitable system of funding distribution among campuses. The post notes rebenching did not harm Berkeley. The post suggests one major cost is the price of trying to compete with other top, often private universities, for recruiting donors and research money. Of course, reduced state funding is the main driver, the post emphasizes.

8/20 – Many on UC Berkeley faculty don’t want leader to linger (SFC): Some Berkeley faculty push for an interim leader to take over the campus, noting continued bad press is likely and that it would be inappropriate for Dirks to fill a number of high-level posts with his appointees. However, other faculty members aren’t so sure, and it appears unlikely Napolitano will change her mind about keeping Dirks on through the year.

8/21 – UC chief moving on finding replacement for Cal chancellor (SFC): Napolitano says she hopes the Regents approve a new campus leader at their March meeting.

8/21 – UC Board of Regents, campus groups begin search process for UC Berkeley’s next chancellor (DailyCal): UC hopes to select a final candidate by the March 15 UC Regents meeting.

8/17 – Campus expresses reactions, hopes regarding Dirks’ resignation (DailyCal): Article suggests the campus at-large was not surprised by Dirks resignation, quoting Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry LeGrande as saying: “If I was in his position, I would be questioning myself on whether I could lead this anymore.”

8/17 – Dirks’ resignation is just the tip of the iceberg (TheTab): Student piece offers a critical perspective on Dirks’ tenure.

8/18 – Chancellor Nicholas Dirks resigns: What it means for Cal athletics (SJMN): Piece notes Dirks didn’t block a number of good changes for Cal, including ditching Nike and playing football games in Australia. The article doesn’t question the value of outside partnerships with private entities, calling them mutually beneficial.

8/17 – Editorial: Departure of compromised chancellor means fresh start at UC Berkeley (SFC): Editorial suggests Dirks’ resignation is an opportunity to improve on Berkeley’s campus culture.

Global Campus

8/26 – UC Berkeley Global Campus suspended due to lack of funds (SJMN): Dirks told a group of Richmond leaders the plans were called off due to the school’s budget woes, but that the school will still evaluate plans for the location, hinting that housing could be part of the picture.

8/25 – Dirks announces indefinite suspension of Berkeley Global Campus plans (DailyCal): Berkeley stressed to community leaders that some plan for Richmond is still in the works.

UC & Other Higher Ed News

8/25 – How the University of California and other public schools use reserve funds to keep pace (WaPo): As state funding (mostly) ebbs and (rarely) flows, public universities have begun amassing reserves in a strategy to withstand the uncertainty. In Virginia, state lawmakers are critical of the university for amassing and not using billions of dollars. Universities say such reserves, and the investment revenue they generate, are essential in today’s world.

8/26 – How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State (NYT): A total of 17,000 students left California for other states’ public universities in 2014, part of a trend across the nation where underfunded university systems are forced to seek out-of-state students who pay more, which in turn pushes out in-state students.

8/23 – University Will Sue Its Own Student Newspaper For Reporting On Sexual Assault Case (BuzzFeed): The University of Kentucky signaled it may take legal action to block its student newspaper for reporting on sexual harassment claims against an associate professor of entomology. The faculty member was allowed to resign without cause. The headline is a bit of an overstatement.

8/25 – University of Chicago: ‘We Do Not Support So-Called Trigger Warnings’ (Time): The university claims they discourage the free exchange of ideas. The university also doesn’t seem to understand what a trigger warning is.

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Dirks to step down + Media Coverage 8/19/16

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced he will resign once a replacement is found. Dirks had earned scrutiny for his handling of sexual harassment by senior campus leaders, a costly fence added around the Chancellor’s residence, the creation of what student media called an “escape hatch” near his office and the alleged misuse of funds in connection to a personal trainer, among other matters.

(A follow-up post on the fallout is in the works)

Dirks’ letter to the campus, worth reading in full, is below:

Dear Colleagues:
I am writing today to say that I have informed President Napolitano of my intention to step down as chancellor once a successor is selected and in place. It has been a great honor to serve as the 10th chancellor of Berkeley, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. Over the summer I have come to the personal decision that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us.
I am especially proud of the work we have done to enhance the undergraduate experience at Berkeley, as we have launched curricular and programmatic initiatives in data science and arts and design, and begun to re-evaluate the whole student experience, including residential and extracurricular life as well as our academic structures.
The research done at Berkeley is second to none, and it has been exhilarating to learn about the breadth and depth of the research our faculty conducts across every discipline and field. I have worked with colleagues to develop new forms of support for cross-disciplinary research, new modes of connection between research and innovation outside the university, and new ideas to ensure that Berkeley’s future contributions to knowledge will be even more impressive and important in the years ahead. I am especially excited about the ways in which our partnership with UCSF has expanded in recent years and will provide a foundation for even more robust support for, and activity in, the biomedical sciences.
I have also been pleased to work with colleagues in developing new global initiatives for our university, creating significant alliances for research, new educational partnerships and programs and ideas for new forms of global institutional collaboration.
We have also worked hard to increase and improve philanthropy for Berkeley, a source of funding that will be ever more critical to our continued success as a university in the years ahead. Building on the great success of the “Campaign for Berkeley,” we have posted records in fundraising for the last two years in a row ($462 million and $479 million respectively). Meanwhile we are in the final stages of completing and implementing a new development structure we call Fundraising 2.0, which will enable far better coordination across our many units while more fully leveraging our alumni and donor base. We have also been working to build and strengthen our alumni relations.
During my time at Berkeley we have begun to address growing concerns around sexual assault, violence and harassment on campus, investing significant resources not only in our Title IX office, but in identifying new campus leadership, as well as better organized structures, procedures and standards for prevention, care and advocacy, investigation and adjudication, sanctions and community awareness and resolve.
I have worked to increase the diversity of the senior administration, and consider the challenge of addressing issues of diversity across our administration, our faculty, our staff and our student body, and continuing the work to improve our campus climate for all of constituencies regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity as of paramount importance for our community.
I am also proud of what we have done through an earlier task force to ensure that our student athletes have the kind of support they need not only to excel in their chosen sports but in the classroom. In the months ahead, I will work with the second task force on our athletic programs, this one to propose new ways to ensure a sound financial future for the athletic department in the larger context of our budgetary challenges.
Our most critical task now is to ensure a sustainable financial foundation for our university at a time of significantly diminished support from the state. While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.
I pledge my total commitment to ensuring a smooth transition as I leave this post. And I look forward to joining on a full-time basis the distinguished faculty that was my primary reason for moving to Berkeley in the first place.
With gratitude to all for the opportunity of a lifetime,
Fiat Lux,
Nicholas B. Dirks

The university’s press release can be found here. UC President Janet Napolitano’s response can be read here. In part, she wrote, “Today I have accepted the resignation of Nicholas B. Dirks as chancellor of UC Berkeley. I do so with deep appreciation for Chancellor Dirks’s efforts on behalf of this great institution, its students, faculty, staff, alumni and the larger Berkeley community.”

Dirks Headlines

Beyond the typical post mortem, the SF Chronicle reported the Chancellor hired a consulting firm to improve his reputation toward potential donors, among other tasks. The contract has been worth $270,000. Most of the articles covering the resignation are fairly similar, running through Dirks’ controversies and emphasizing the oddity of having two UC chancellors resign in quick succession.

8/17 – UC Berkeley invested in consultants to boost chancellor’s image (SFC): The article highlights the irony of Berkeley’s cost-cutting measures undertaken alongside such a pricey PR sprucing.

8/19 – Campus spends $270,000 to create ‘strategic profile’ for Dirks (DailyCal)

8/16 – UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announces resignation (SFGate)

8/16 – Nicholas Dirks Resigns as Chancellor of University of California, Berkeley (NYT)

8/17 – Berkeley Chancellor Quits After 3 Years in Office (IHE)

8/18 – ‘We don’t sit around saying ‘woe is me.” Napolitano prepares to fill sudden chancellor vacancies at UC Berkeley, UC Davis (LATimes)

8/17 – University of California faces abrupt leadership shakeups at two prized campuses (WaPo): An interesting tidbit in this one notes Napolitano’s claim that she did not try to force Dirks out.

Other UC news

8/13 – One of Donald Trump’s biggest economic supporters? It’s a UC Irvine economist (OCRegister): Peter Navarro, a Harvard-trained Democrat, is the only academic on Trump’s council of economic advisers. While Navarro has never met or spoken with Trump, they’ve been in touch since before the election, when the developer contributed a blurb to Navarro’s documentary “Death by China.”

8/1 – Editorial: Valley deserves a voice among UC regents (ModBee): A bit old, but worth a read. The editorial board argues UC Board of Regents needs to replace its departing San Joaquin Valley member, Fred Ruiz, with someone else from the valley. While coastal California has some of the nation’s best K-12 school and higher education institutions, the editorial notes the valley is underserved on both ends.

8/12/16 Media Coverage

The big news this week, detailed in an earlier blog post, is the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. Elsewhere, lawmakers in Sacramento approved an audit of UCOP. UC Davis is also in the news for delayed financial aid payments to students and a tricky legal maneuver involving its medical school and claims of sexual harassment.

UC News

8/11 – Lawmakers approve audits of UC spending (SFChron): Legislators approved an audit of UCOP. “We must be assured the maximum resources are directed to classrooms and student services,” wrote Assemblyman Phil Ting, who requested the study, in a statement. The Chronicle begins its article with a noteworthy lede:

Spending at the University of California’s Oakland headquarters has nearly doubled in recent years, and official staff counts vary by nearly 500 people, depending on who’s doing the counting. / So on Wednesday, state lawmakers authorized an audit of UC’s Office of the President to determine whether its $686 million annual budget — more than twice that of the Legislature — is money well spent.

The article notes the lede is a bit misleading, as only half of the UCOP budget is actually spent on UCOP operations. The rest funds student services, research, study abroad trips, etc. Also see: LATimes

8/6 – San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium now named after credit union (SJMN): Not UC, but of note: The school gets $8 million for the name change.

8/10 – Top 100 (Capitol Weekly): Capitol Weekly’s list of the top 100 political players in the state includes Janet Napolitano at #24, calling her a an “aggressive advocate” for the UC system. Ironically, #25 is Elaine Howle, the state auditor who produced a report deeply critical of UC this year. The list also includes Steve Juarez, UCOP’s Sacramento lobbyist, as #89. Here’s what it says about Juarez:

UC is a mighty institution that gets things done, and one of the reasons is Steve Juarez, who lobbies on behalf of UC’s Office of the President. People in both houses who know higher education lobbying – and some outsiders, too – say Juarez is one of the reasons. He’s smart, prompt and detail-savvy – characteristics that count for much in the Capitol. UC offers up relatively few bills each session, so Juarez’ load may not seem all that heavy. But he also serves as a communications channel between the Legislature and the university – a critical role, given the image problems that have confronted the school this year and last.

8/10 – UC Davis’ Katehi gets $424,360 ‘parachute’ common for university presidents (SacBee): Katehi will retain her president-level pay for one year as she transitions to a full-time faculty member. The article notes:

The practice of paying a college president an additional year after leaving office is common across the country, said James Finkelstein, a George Mason University professor and expert on university executives. “What she is getting is very typical of the type of parachutes that other presidents have had,” he said.

Finkelstein said the policies began after lawyers started representing university presidents in contract negotiations. “It has begun to slip over from the private sector into the university sector – what I call the CEO-ization of the university presidency,” he said.

8/6 – Court spurns UC Davis harassment suit defense that cites First Amendment rights (SacBee): UC Davis is attempting to kill a lawsuit by a medical resident who says she was sexually harassed and unfairly criticized. The legal move raises questions about how easy it is to sue a large organization in California.

8/7 – UC Davis may issue emergency loans due to financial aid backlog (SacBee): UC Davis is behind by two months on giving out loans and financial aid. Students may need to take out short-term loans to get by.

Elsewhere

8/12 – Messy Breakups Make More Noise (IHE): Katehi isn’t the only campus leader to step down amid controversy. Some think this could signal a new trend in the relationship between campus executives and boards, who can hire and fire campus leaders. Others see a shift in the expectations places on campus presidents.

8/11 – Employees Sue Four More Universities Over Retirement Plan Fees (NYT):  A number of elite private schools have been sued for failing to secure better terms on retirement plan fees.

8/9 – AAU Memo to Clinton & Trump (AAU): The nation’s top research universities have asked the major party presidential nominees to back “policies that foster innovation, enhance college affordability, attract and retain top international talent, and make the federal investments in research and higher education more efficient.”

8/5 – How Much Does Living Off-Campus Cost? Who Knows? (NYT): A study by the Wisconsin HOPE lab, which was founded by sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab and works to make colleges more affordable, found that schools frequently over- or underestimate the cost of living off campus. This matters, not only for a student determining where to enroll, but for how federal loan limits are calculated.

8/4 – The Mess at Oberlin (Academe): Steve Lubet, a professor of law at Northwestern, argues for keeping separate one’s academic career (and any discipline one may invite) and personal statements in light of a controversy surrounding an Oberlin professor’s conspiratorial social media posts maligning Jews and Israel.

8/11 – The Quality Crisis at 4-year Public Colleges (ThirdWay): A report on higher education in California finds much to criticize — including low graduation rates — but much to praise at various UC campuses, too, including above-average enrollment of Pell students paired with above-average graduation rates.

Katehi Resigns

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi resigned on Aug. 9 as the campus’s leader, though she remains a tenured member of the university’s faculty. An investigation by an outside law firm cleared Katehi of the most serious charges leveled against her, including nepotism and retaliating against employees who worked with UCOP, however it did find she misled the press and UC President Janet Napolitano on multiple occasions and violated some UC policies regarding outside service and minor rules governing reimbursement.

Napolitano released the following statement to the UC Davis campus:

On April 25, 2016, I met privately with Linda Katehi to discuss a series of misjudgments and policy violations of such a serious nature that she should resign her position as chancellor of UC Davis. Regrettably, Chancellor Katehi refused to resign and made public statements to campus leadership and others that she intended to remain as chancellor. I then placed Chancellor Katehi on immediate administrative leave and authorized the hiring of an outside firm to investigate a number of concerns.

The investigation is now concluded, and it found numerous instances where Chancellor Katehi was not candid, either with me, the press or the public, that she exercised poor judgment and violated multiple university policies. In these circumstances, Chancellor Katehi has now offered to resign, and I have accepted that resignation. These past three months and the events leading up to them have been an unhappy chapter in the life of UC Davis. I believe it is in the best interest of the campus, the Davis community and the University of California that we move forward.

Chancellor Katehi will transition to becoming a full-time faculty member in accordance with the terms of her pre-existing contract. We will immediately form a search committee and conduct a national search for a new chancellor to lead this extraordinary campus. Ralph Hexter will continue in his role leading the campus during the pendency of the search. The Office of the President will support and work with Davis’ faculty, students, staff and community to ensure the campus continues its impressive upward trajectory. 

In her resignation letter, which can be read here, Katehi cites the UC investigation to insist she broke no university rules. Her statement begins:

Seven years ago, on April 27, 2009, former UC President Mark Yudof invited me to come to UC Davis to serve as Chancellor. I came with great excitement to serve as the campus’ first woman Chancellor and to work with members of the faculty, staff and student community. Approximately 100 days ago, the University of California placed me on leave and commenced an investigation into three allegations. The investigation regarding these allegations has been completed and the investigators have confirmed that as to material allegations concerning my service to this institution, I did not violate UC policies or laws.

The UC investigation into Katehi can be read here. However, significant chunks of text have been redacted. Key findings include:

  1. The report clears Katehi of exercising nepotism toward her son and daughter-in-law
  2. Katehi made statements that were “misleading, at best, or untruthful, at worst” to UCOP and the media about her role in contracting with Nevins & Associates and other communications firm to rehabilitate the university’s online reputation in light of the 2011 pepper spray fiasco
  3. Katehi did not intentionally misuse student activity funds for physical education in the budgeting process
  4. Katehi generally made sure she was only reimbursed for professional travel expenses, not those of a mostly personal nature. Some instances of policy non-compliance did not result in personal profit for Katehi or a loss for UC
  5. Katehi gave inaccurate information about when she began service on the board of DeVry, therefore violating UC policies governing the reporting of outside service
  6. There is no evidence that Katehi threatened retaliation against employees who cooperated with UCOP

Andre Knoesen, chair of the university’s Academic Senate, released a statement praising Katehi for contributions to the campus. In the statement, Knoesen seems critical of Napolitano:

Chancellor Katehi’s decision to resign as Chancellor today is understandable, given the recent interactions between the Chancellor and President Napolitano, including the investigation initiated by the President. These circumstances have had a negative effect on the Davis campus and make it impossible for Linda Katehi to be effective as a Chancellor.

Katehi’s attorney Melinda Guzman released a statement saying Katehi “won” in the face of “baseless accusations.”

“Other issues concerned her DeVry board service, an issue resolved in the past, and alleged misrepresentations to President Napolitano and the media regarding social media contracts. The report found these were never intended to benefit Linda Katehi and were not designed to “scrub the Internet” as inaccurately portrayed by the media. The report does not reach a conclusion that Katehi was untruthful, citing only that she may have minimized her knowledge or role in the contracts. In my opinion, there were many contracts, many goals and many people involved, leading to likely misunderstanding or miscommunication on these contracts,” Guzman said.

“Linda Katehi and her family have been exonerated from baseless accusations of nepotism, conflicts of interest, financial management and personal gain, just as we predicted and as the UC Davis Academic Senate found within days of this leave,” stated Guzman.

The Sacramento Bee has a deep dive into Katehi’s obsession with her reputation, as discovered in the UC investigation:

“The evidence indicates that Chancellor Katehi was acutely concerned with damage to her personal reputation following the 2011 pepper spray incident, and that she was interested in the consultants working to improve her own online reputation as well as the reputation of UC Davis,” the report concluded, noting that Katehi was involved in and approved hiring three firms for $407,000 to repair her online image, as well as that of UC Davis.

Katehi and her staff sought out firms on the East Coast and in Sacramento, meeting with them and discussing how to create a LindaKatehi.com webpage, edit Wikipedia posts and submit op-eds under her name to publications that might crowd out negative press from others.

The report noted that improving Katehi’s reputation also would improve that of the university’s. But documents show that she constantly sought help in what one aide recalled as her desire that they “get me off the Google.”

“Linda wants to understand generally how we plan to address the lingering negative pepper spray-related online search content associated with her name,” reads a September 2012 email from Barry Shiller, who was brought in after the pepper-spray incident to handle her communications strategy.

At one point in 2014, Katehi emailed staff member Luanne Lawrence, saying she wanted to speak to her about “Google in general.”

“I did a search recently and it seems to be the worse (sic) I have seen in a long time,” Katehi wrote. “I am afraid we have regressed and would like to discuss with you a change in strategy.”

Media coverage: SacBee | LATimes | SFGate | DavisEnt

Media Coverage 8/5/16

The press turned its attention back to Linda Katehi, with the Bee reporting on Katehi’s luxurious UC-funded travel habits. Meanwhile, Nicholas Dirks was ridiculed by the student Daily Cal for building what it termed an “escape hatch” to elude student protests, a characterization the chancellor’s office rejected. Elsewhere, UCOP released a compensation report for 2015.

 Katehi

8/1 – UC footed first-class flights, high-end hotel rooms for Davis chancellor Katehi (SacBee):  Katehi’s bill for international travel, intended to woo donors, cost UC $174,000. The bill includes limo service, first-class seats and tour guides. The cost for her husband to join on the trips is not included in that figure, but the article notes it too was picked up by UC. The article notes Katehi often incurred fees for rebooking flights last minute and upgrading her seating. In 2011, while in Hong Kong, she secured an extra hotel room just for her luggage. Other tidbits abound in the article.

7/28 – The Katehi Years at UC-Davis (Chronicle): An overview of Katehi’s tenure leading UC Davis.

7/29 – The Slow-Motion Downfall of Linda Katehi (Chronicle): A look at Katehi’s resistance to her critics.

Dirks’ Door

7/29 – Campus builds escape hatch for Dirks’ office in California Hall (DailyCal): UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks had a $9,000 escape door built near his office in response to student protests.

8/3 – UC Berkeley denies chancellor built an ‘escape hatch’ to flee student protests (TheGuardian): A university spokesperson called characterizing the door as an “escape hatch” to be “the concoction of a 19-year-old headline writer.” However, the official did note the door was made in response to the student body’s tendency to protest.

This & That

8/2 – Forced to Justify Board Membership (InsideHigherEd): A closer look at new rules limiting UC officials capacity to serve on outside boards, with particular attention to a rule that requires officials to justify how the service will benefit UC. A more typical standard is to prove the service will not create a conflict of interest.

7/27 – Outgoing UC Student Association president submits report of recommendations to UC system (DailyCal): The association requests formal recognition by UCOP and the regents so it can’t be ignored when its presence would be deemed inconvenient.

7/4 – Former Berkeley Law dean criticizes faculty committee’s response to initial complaint, files new grievance (DailyCal): Former Berkeley Law dean Sujit Choudhry has filed a grievance attempting to block a new investigation into his misdeeds. Choudhry has been accused of sexually harassing his assistant. At first, Choudhry was docked some pay for a year and required to apologize and attend counseling. This second investigation, spurred by a lawsuit filed by the assistant, could strip Choudhry of tenure.

2015 Compensation
7/29 – Compensation at the University of California (UCOP): The UC system released it’s compensation report for 2015.
Also, State Controller Betty Yee released an update to a website that lists public sector salaries. One can filter by UC or CSU employment, thought names are not included. Meanwhile, the SacBee released an article showing the state’s most active lobbyists.