Linda P.B. Katehi, UC Davis chancellor, was removed from her post and put on administrative leave on Wednesday. The University of California Davis has opened an independent investigation into a number of possible violations made by Linda P.B. Katehi, including using university funds to scrub negative references to the college on social media.
The chancellor had been the target of student protests and criticism by California lawmakers. In addition to the controversy over paying to improve the university’s online profile, she had been criticized for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from a publisher of student textbooks and a for-profit education company, which critics said were conflicts of interest.
A statement released late on Wednesday by Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system, said investigations would include “questions about the campus’s employment and compensation of some of the chancellor’s immediate family members, the veracity of the chancellor’s accounts of her involvement in contracts related to managing both the campus’s and her personal reputation on social media, and the potential improper use of student fees.”
“The president, with the support of the leadership of the Board of Regents, has determined it is in the best interest of U.C. Davis that Chancellor Katehi be placed on investigatory administrative leave from her position as chancellor pending the outcome of this investigation,” Napolitano said in the statement.
The university’s provost, Ralph Hexter, will become chancellor on an interim basis, the statement said.
The Sacramento Bee reported in April that the university paid more than $175,000 to two public relations firms to try to remove from the Internet negative search results related to the Davis campus and Katehi specifically. One goal of the public relations effort was to play down search results related to a November 2011 incident when a police officer pepper-sprayed students who were sitting in the quad during a protest, images of which were widely circulated online.
The University of California system is under severe financial strain and has come under criticism for a string of sexual harassment cases at the Berkeley campus.