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Regents ratify Katehi as UC Davis' next chancellor

By Dave Jones on May 8, 2009 in University

The Board of Regents made it official just before 1 p.m. May 7: UC Davis’ next chancellor will be Linda Katehi, as recommended by President Mark G. Yudof.

Katehi, 55, is a professor of electrical and computer engineering who now serves as provost of the 41,000-student University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Previously she held academic leadership posts at Purdue University and the University of Michigan.

She is scheduled to assume the chancellor’s office at UC Davis on Aug. 17, succeeding Larry Vanderhoef, who is stepping down after 15 years as chancellor and 10 years before that as provost and executive vice chancellor.

The regents also approved Yudof's choice of physician and cancer researcher Susan Desmond-Hellmann as UCSF's next chancellor.

Katehi (pronounced ka-TAY-hee) will lead UC Davis into its second century, as the university’s sixth chancellor and the first woman to hold the post. A welcome reception is scheduled to begin around 11:15 a.m. today (May 8).

Yudof announced Katehi and Desmond-Hellmann as his choices for chancellorships on May 1. The Board of Regents, meeting by telephone conference call, approved the appointments by unanimous vote and the chancellors' compensation packages by another unanimous vote.

“Linda Katehi is a great success story and a great fit for UC Davis,” Yudof said. “She is a brilliant academic with experience at three Big 10 universities. She understands the mission and aspirations of a multidisciplinary, land-grant institution dedicated to solving society’s problems. She is also an accomplished researcher and inventor, and a proven manager and fundraiser.”

Under Vanderhoef’s leadership, Yudof said,“UC Davis has made incredible strides and become one of America's great research universities. Now we want to build on that progress, and I’m confident Linda has the ability to make that happen.”

Not only that, Yudof said, but Katehi comes from the UC family, holding two degrees from UCLA. Katehi enrolled at UCLA in 1979, earning her Master of Science degree in 1981 and her doctorate in 1984, both in electrical engineering.

She said her experience at UCLA “changed my life substantially.” Since then, she has impressed her alma mater—recognized by the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science as Alumnus of the Year in 2006.

Katehi did her undergraduate work in her native Greece, studying at the National Technical University in Athens. She then worked for two years as a senior engineer in the Naval Research Laboratory in Athens, before going to UCLA.

She said she first became interested in science as a young girl while watching the Apollo moon landings on television.

“I was impressed by the images I saw, primarily the shots from the control room in Houston,” she recalled. “It was then that I decided I wanted to be an electrical engineer.”

After UCLA, she joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She stayed there for 18 years, becoming associate dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Education in the College of Engineering.

Subsequently, from 2002 to 2006, she served as dean of engineering at Purdue, where she launched an ambitious program to heighten the engineering school’s national distinction.

Katehi became provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 2006. She holds a joint faculty appointment, in engineering and in the Gender and Women’s Studies program.

Throughout her career she has focused on expanding undergraduate research opportunities and improving the education and professional experience of graduate students, with a focus on underrepresented groups.

She is a recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ distinguished educator award in the field of microwave theory and techniques.

Her academic work focuses on electronic circuit design; she holds 16 U.S. patents.

She was named in 2006 to the National Academy of Engineering, where she has chaired the Committee on K-12 Engineering Education, and she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed her as chair of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.

Chancellor’s compensation

As approved by the Board of Regents, Katehi will receive an annual salary of $400,000, about 12.4 percent more than the $356,000 she earns at the University of Illinois. (Vanderhoef earns $315,000 as UC Davis chancellor.)

UC seeks to be competitive in the employment markets relevant to its faculty and staff hires, and Katehi’s base salary of $400,000 is still substantially below the 2008 median of $628,000 among chancellors at UC’s comparison group of 14 public and private U.S. campuses with medical schools.

Consistent with university policy, Katehi also will receive:

• University-provided housing.

• An annual automobile allowance of $8,916.

• A relocation allowance of $100,000 (25 percent of base salary), subject to proportional repayment if the position is resigned within the first four years of appointment.

• Payment of packing and moving costs for household effects, library and related equipment.

• Reimbursement of travel expenses for business-related visits to the campus during the transition period.

• Eligibility for a Mortgage Origination Program loan and payment of relocation costs if she continues in a tenured faculty position after stepping down as chancellor.

Also, the university will establish an annual allocation of campus funding if Katehi maintains an active research program during the service as chancellor.

Katehi will receive standard pension, health and welfare, and senior management benefits, including senior management life insurance, executive business travel insurance, executive salary continuation for disability, accrual of sabbatical leave and an administrative fund.

Katehi’s husband, Spyros Tseregounis—who, like Katehi, did his graduate study at UCLA, earning a doctorate in chemical engineering—holds an adjunct faculty position at the University of Illinois. UC Davis will be considering him for a similar or equivalent appointment.

Linda Katehi: At a Glance.

Chancellor Vanderhoef calls Katehi a "superstar.'

REGENTS NOTES: Outgoing chancellors lauded; Yudof's first chancellor picks; UCSF's chancellor-designate; Board skips UCSD; regents elect new chair

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,