Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chancellor Katehi and the Faculty

One noteworthy aspect of Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting with Faculty and Staff was that many of the speakers expressed support for Chancellor Katehi and rejected calls for her resignation. Entomology Professor Walter Leal presented an open letter to that effect, which was signed by over 200 faculty members and published in the Davis Enterprise this morning.

Prior to Tuesday, many news accounts claimed that the UC Davis Faculty sought Chancellor Katehi’s resignation. In fact, only some of the faculty, and far less than the majority, have made such demands—the English Department (40 members), some members of the Physics department (31 of 50), and the 11-member Board of the Davis Faculty Association (DFA). This amounts to approximately 80 faculty out of the approximately 1400 faculty at UC Davis. The DFA does not represent the whole faculty. It is a voluntary membership organization of approximately 120 members (less than 10 percent of the faculty). Few, if any, news accounts noted this--most assumed or implied that the DFA represented the entire faculty. Moreover, the Board’s statement represented the views of the Board only (and was not unanimous)—the membership was not polled. Most news accounts failed to distinguish between the position of the association’s Board and that of its members. (I am a member of the association, but do not support calls for the Chancellor’s resignation at this time). On Wednesday, November 23 (5 days after the pepper spray incident), the DFA finally polled its members. This poll will be complete on December 7. Some DFA members have questioned the Board’s haste in calling for the Chancellor's resignation, and its failure to consult the DFA members first.

The body that does represent the entire faculty is the Academic Senate. Its Representative Assembly will hold a special meeting with Katehi in the Mondavi Center tomorrow morning. Some faculty members are circulating a letter to the chair of the Academic Senate calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Katehi. Fifty signatures are required for such a vote to occur before February (the next regularly scheduled meeting of the faculty Senate). And even if they get the signatures (which they probably will), the vote will not take place until January. I am one of the signatories, not because I am ready to vote for the motion, but because I would like there to be a vote.

Finally, several departments (including mine) have issued statements condemning the use of pepper spray and asking for an investigation, but stopping short of demanding Katehi’s resignation at this time.

UPDATE: A colleague and a student suggested that I clarify my position on the no-confidence resolution because it seems contradictory.

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