Linda P.B. Katehi, who resigned last year as UC Davis chancellor after months of controversy, will return as a distinguished professor in September at the same pay rate she received as campus leader, university officials said Friday.
Katehi will be paid $318,000 on a nine-month contract – when annualized, equivalent to the $424,000 salary she received as chancellor. She will teach electrical and computer engineering, as well as women and gender studies, according to a UC Davis bio.
Her salary appears to make her the highest paid faculty member in either department, based on the most recent UC salary data available to the public.
“If she gets a summer research contract, she will essentially make the same amount as a (chancellor), and that is not typical,” said James Finkelstein, a George Mason University professor and an expert on university executive pay.
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Katehi, 63, resigned last August as an embattled chancellor who faced questions about her actions and leadership. She initially drew criticism for accepting a board seat from for-profit DeVry Education Group while it was under federal investigation for allegedly misleading students. She later came under fire when The Sacramento Bee reported she spent heavily on image-enhancing firms to boost her reputation after the 2011 pepper-spraying of student protesters by campus police.
University of California President Janet Napolitano launched a $1 million, four-month investigation that ended with an agreement allowing Katehi to return in 2017 as a member of the faculty. But first, as is the tradition, she was allowed to take a year off at her chancellor’s pay, plus retirement and health benefits.
Katehi did not respond to requests for comment made to her university email and her attorney.
“This is exactly why so many people are so cynical about government,” said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Center for Public Interest Law. He called on the Legislature to provide closer oversight of UC system.
Finkelstein said that when a university chancellor returns to teach, it is more typical for academic departments to offer to match the salary of their highest paid professor or the average of their top three highest paid professors.
The designation of distinguished professor is reserved for those who have reached the highest level of pay in their category and then undergo a special review to be placed above the standard pay scale.
According to the most recent publicly available data from 2015, two other distinguished professors work in the electrical and computer engineering department: Jerry Woodall, who earned $303,000; and N.C. Luhmann Jr., who earned $249,000.
A review of state salary data shows that all but four of the other 33 professors currently in that department made under $200,000 in 2015, the most recent year data is available from the state. The 2015 salaries for four of the professors were not available.
The university did not provide Katehi’s class schedule, so it was unclear Friday how often she will teach.
A tentative class schedule posted on the women and gender studies page did not list her as one of the instructors, although an instructor was pending on one of the classes. A class schedule for the School of Engineering was not readily available online.
“What we see in most of these contracts for former presidents is that they often have a reduced teaching load or don’t teach at all,” Finkelstein said. “Rarely do you find a former president teaching a full load, largely because they have been out of their discipline for so long and are not current in their field.”
A biography of Katehi on the UC Davis website says she is an expert in circuit design and holds “close to two dozen patents.”
Before arriving at UC Davis in 2009, Katehi served for three years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Katehi previously was the dean of engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. Before that, she was associate dean for academic affairs and graduate education in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.
Georgia Tech engineering dean Gary S. May will take over as new UC Davis chancellor on Tuesday.