Former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi in line to become feminist institute leader

Former UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is in position to lead the school’s Feminist Research Institute.

The program, established in 2015, funds and promotes the study of how gender, sexuality, race and other social structures affect research, according to its website.

The Feminist Research Institute board filed a request in November to name Katehi its new director, said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis. The decision will be made by interim Vice Chancellor for Research Cameron S. Carter and isn’t likely to happen until next year, she said.

The research institute staff includes two faculty members who currently serve as co-directors. Its board consists of nine female faculty members from the humanities and sciences.

Katehi, 62, resigned as chancellor in August after facing months of criticism for accepting lucrative board seats with private education companies and spending heavily on image-enhancing firms to cleanse her reputation after the 2011 police pepper-spraying of students, based on reporting by The Sacramento Bee.

Further allegations and statements made by Katehi prompted UC President Janet Napolitano to launch a three-month investigation of her actions. She was cleared of the most serious allegations of nepotism and misuse of student funds, but found to have violated multiple university policies, exercised poor judgment and been dishonest with Napolitano and the public, according to UC officials.

As chancellor, Katehi focused on increasing the number of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. She told the Davis Enterprise in October that she wanted to create a center focused on the “social, political and education needs of women.”

Members of the Feminist Research Institute board did not return emails or phone calls this week.

Some student activists who led protests against Katehi earlier this year objected to the appointment, in part because it would give her another leadership role.

“She is sort of marketing herself as the sort of woman that is there for other women,” said Elly Oltersdorf, 21. “There are some things she did for women in STEM and that’s important, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t culpable for her actions.”

Topousis said former directors of the institute have not received stipends and there are no plans to offer one to Katehi. She couldn’t say whether Katehi would be assigned fewer classes because of the new position.

“All that gets worked out if they make a selection,” Topousis said.

Since August, Katehi has continued to take her chancellor’s salary of $424,360 plus retirement and health benefits. That is a standard University of California perk that allows former campus leaders to receive chancellor-level pay with few responsibilities for one year as they transition from administration to faculty.

If approved, Katehi would take over the part-time job next school year when she is scheduled to return as an engineering professor.

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert

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