Education

Want to know what the UC probe of Katehi cost? So do we.

Nearly six months after the University of California completed an investigation that led to the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, UC officials still cannot say what the probe cost taxpayers.

The final bill for the four-month investigation, which The Sacramento Bee requested Aug. 3 in a California Public Records Act request, still has not been completed and is not available, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said Tuesday. Klein did not respond to questions about why the bill has not been finalized, whether the investigating firm had received any money yet for its services or whether there is some conflict over the bill.

That bill is among thousands of pages of documents UC has yet to produce in response to Public Records Act requests from The Bee dating back to May 5 that were filed as the scandal involving Katehi and UC Davis was unfolding.

Katehi, who faced criticism and student protests over her acceptance of lucrative corporate board seats, extensive travel and public relations efforts to improve her image, was suspended in April and resigned under fire in August as the UC probe of her actions was made public.

The Bee filed 27 public record requests during the uproar involving Katehi, which began with The Bee’s revelation that she had accepted a seat on the board of DeVry Education Group while it was under investigation by the federal government for allegedly misleading students.

UC Davis and UC officials eventually released a number of records in response. Those included contracts that revealed Katehi and UC Davis hired companies to scrub the internet of negative postings about the chancellor and the school following the November 2011 pepper-spraying by police of students at a campus protest.

However, numerous records still have not been produced, including invoices and the total cost of the probe of Katehi. The inquiry was conducted by two former U.S. attorneys, Melinda Haag and McGregor Scott, and their colleagues at the Orrick law firm, which has 25 offices worldwide.

In addition to the cost of the Katehi probe, The Bee has also sought information about the collaboration between UC Davis and candy and pet food giant Mars Inc. The company has worked with UC Davis researchers on food-related studies for years, and in 2014 Mars committed to providing at least $40 million to the university and its World Food Center.

The Bee sought documents relating to that work in a Public Records Act request filed in June 2016, but UC Davis reported in a Jan. 13 email that it was withholding the bulk of the materials – 2,424 pages – because they either contain trade secrets or would compromise the privacy of the research activities of scholars.

Records from a separate request to UC Berkeley officials filed May 5 that sought contracts and emails related to the hiring of a strategic communications firm also have not been produced. UC Berkeley acknowledged receipt of the request May 10.

“The current timeframe for fulfillment of most requests is eight weeks, although this may vary due to the nature and complexity of the request,” Liane Ko, the university’s public records coordinator, wrote in an email at the time.

Since then, no records have been produced. Ko responded to inquiries from The Bee in July saying the school was still working on the request.

“We are continuing our review of documents for records that are responsive to your request,” Ko wrote. “The collected records must be reviewed by this office to ensure that they are in fact responsive to your request and to assess whether any legal privileges or exemptions from disclosure are applicable and whether redactions may be required to protect individuals’ rights to privacy.”

That email response, sent on July 28, said “the current estimated date of production is four weeks, if not sooner.”

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert

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