Education

UC Davis’ new chancellor wants students to design living room emptied by Katehi

Look inside the empty UC Davis chancellor's residence

UC Davis has invited students to participate in a contest to design and furnish the living room and study in the public area of the 7,779-square-foot chancellor's residence. Much of the home is empty after former Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi resig
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UC Davis has invited students to participate in a contest to design and furnish the living room and study in the public area of the 7,779-square-foot chancellor's residence. Much of the home is empty after former Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi resig

UC Davis has found an innovative way to furnish the chancellor’s residence after the departure of former university head Linda P.B. Katehi and her furniture.

On Wednesday, the school invited students to participate in a contest to design and furnish the living room and study in the public area of the 7,779-square-foot house.

The ranch-style house in a tony neighborhood adjacent to the campus was meant to serve both a public and private function. It has been used for receptions, donor cultivation, appreciation dinners, alumni gatherings, distinguished speakers, performances and meetings.

Katehi resigned in August under pressure from University of California President Janet Napolitano after investigators examined the chancellor’s actions, including an effort to cleanse her reputation online.

Though the public area of the chancellor’s residence was furnished when Katehi arrived in 2009, she gave away most of the university-owned furniture or had it sold as surplus in 2010, according to university officials. She replaced those items with her own furniture in the 4,920-square-foot public area of the house and took them with her when she left last year.

The two rooms that are part of the contest are most in need of furniture, said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis. “Other rooms have basic furniture.”

University officials found surplus furniture from other parts of the campus, including a dining room table, to furnish the house so Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter could host events in the house, Topousis said. A guest room remains fully furnished.

The design contest is the brainchild of the university’s new chancellor, Gary May, and his wife, LeShelle.

“The chancellor’s residence is a resource that belongs to all of the UC Davis community,” May said in a statement. “We are asking students to help us create an environment that is welcoming and one that reflects our campus community.”

Students can submit design ideas for one room or both. The total working budget for both rooms is $20,000, which comes from private donations.

Contest guidelines call for designs in a classic contemporary style with a color palette inspired by Northern California and UC Davis. The Mays hope the study will be a place to display Aggie memorabilia like the football helmet they recently received, Topousis said.

“They would like to showcase UC Davis pride,” she said.

The contest, which ends June 30, will be judged by faculty, staff members and a graduate student, according to the university.

The winners will be honored at a public celebration at the house in early August, Topousis said. Winners also will be profiled in UC Davis Magazine and will win an Aggie prize pack valued up to $100, she said.

FILE - UC Davis Chancellor Gary May discusses why he believes colleges should have more diversity after his unanimous confirmation to the position by UC regents in early 2017.

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert

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