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Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda Katehi is UC Davis’ sixth chancellor and first woman to hold the post. (Karin Higgins / UC Davis)

About Higher Ed Matters

With this blog, I hope that we can engage in a vibrant conversation about our thoughts, ideas and news about how our university is helping to shape the future of higher education. As you share your comments, please embrace the UC Davis Principles of Community and abide by our Comments policy.

- Linda Katehi



Higher Ed Matters

Chancellor Linda Katehi: Engineering for the Future

January 28th, 2015 @ 10:00 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as a child watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. His bravery and eloquence amazed me, but my heart was with the engineers at NASA down here on earth. I was determined to become an engineer before I understood what that really meant.

The world will always call upon engineers to design bridges, map out transportation systems, and improve developing nations through technology and innovation. Now, with global population expanding and our ecosystems under extreme stress, the field of engineering must also focus on sustainability and environmental repair.

The Grand Challenges

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering surveyed a committee of experts to identify “Grand Challenges” that the world, and hence the engineering profession, will need to solve.

In the UC system, we have been working on plans for a new system-wide graduate research program tied directly to the NAE’s list, and many UC Davis faculty and students are already doing important work on these issues:

• Ruihong Zhang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering, invented technology that turns industrial waste and household garbage into energy. Her biodigester does that now on the site of the university’s former landfill.

• Dan Sperling, director of our Institute of Transportation Studies, and Bryan Jenkins, professor of biological and agricultural engineering, helped write California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the world’s first air quality standard to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels.

• Students at our Student Research Expo after Fall Convocation showcased their work to find a cheaper, easier way to recycle plastic and a new approach to tissue preparation that makes heart valve replacements more successful.

For future generations to lead prosperous, healthy lives, engineers must increasingly devote themselves to the Grand Challenges. I’m so proud that UC Davis is playing a significant role in creating a more sustainable approach to the engineering profession.

To read my full opinion editorial in the Huffington Post, visit HERE.

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In the news

Chancellor Linda Katehi: Global Partnerships to Feed the World

January 23rd, 2015 @ 8:00 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

On January 16, I had the chance to host a half-day conference titled, “Reimagining the Future of Innovation: Building Effective Collaborations Among Government, Universities and Industry” here on the UC Davis campus.

Three members of Congress—Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove; John Garamendi, D- Walnut Grove; and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento—spoke at the event, which sought to answer the question of how to create new procedures, new rules and new institutions that facilitate productive collaborations while retaining the identities of the university, the business firm and the government agency.

Never before have universities held such great potential for making an impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities of the 21st century will be defined by the impact they make, not only in educating our students but also in finding solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Which is why building robust, lasting collaborations among universities, government and industry is so important. To cite just one potent example, thanks to partnerships between universities such as UC Davis, government and state agricultural producers, California has become a $45 billion-a year-industry and has been the largest agricultural producer in the nation for more than five decades. And the solutions we’ve developed here have spread across the country and the world, helping to feed and nourish countless millions.

The recent partnership we announced between the World Food Center at UC Davis and Mars, Incorporated to create a new Innovation Institute for Food and Health on our campus is another promising collaboration.

Universities, government and industry working together have great potential to accomplish much more than would be possible if they only worked alone. I look forward to even stronger collaborations in the future.

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Required reading

Chancellor Linda Katehi: A Day of Advocacy at the State Capitol

January 20th, 2015 @ 10:18 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

I said some months back that I would continue to advocate for additional state funding for higher education so we don’t have to saddle students with higher tuition to fund their education, and I was happy for the chance to make that case last week at the state Capitol in Sacramento.

What was great about this half day of productive meetings with five members of the Assembly and three from the Senate was that I had a half dozen UC Davis students with me. There are no better ambassadors for the value of a UC education than our bright, engaging and hard-working students.

Together, we argued as forcefully as we know how that higher education funding needs to be a priority for California. We reminded legislators that state spending on corrections has increased almost 250 percent since 1990 while funding for UC has gone up just 11 percent during that same time, a trend that bodes very poorly for California’s future.

Deep cuts the past few years have made matters much worse and the students and I let legislators know that a far preferable strategy than raising tuition is for the state to “buy out” the tuition increases approved by the UC Board of Regents with additional funding for UC. In the Governor’s proposed $113 billion budget for the next fiscal year, the tuition buy-out amounts to about $17 million for UC Davis.

The legislators were receptive to our message. They understand that investing in higher education builds an educated work force and transforms lives.

They also know that the UC campuses are great economic engines and that UC Davis alone contributes about $7 billion a year in economic activity to this region.

We will continue to fight for money from the state and less financial burden on students between now and the time the next year’s budget is final in June. I encourage everyone with a stake in the UC system, especially students and their families, to join us in arguing that there is no better investment in the state’s future than to adequately fund our public colleges and universities.

January 2015 Legislative Visits_UC Tuition

Photo caption: Associated Students of the University of California, Davis (ASUCD), Graduate Student Association (GSA) and Law Students Association (LSA) students join me on legislative visits in Sacramento (1/15/15).

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Aggie stars

Chancellor Linda Katehi: A Story of Courage and Bravery

January 16th, 2015 @ 1:35 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

I wanted to call your attention to an article that ran in the Sacramento Bee this week about three Sacramento city firefighters who were injured fighting a house fire in South Sacramento. The most seriously injured of the three was Alex Galang, a recent UC Davis graduate who was also a UCD student firefighter.

As Nathan J. Trauernicht, the university’s fire chief tells the story, Alex’s action at the fire were the definition of selflessness, courage, and bravery, as he fell through the floor of the house into the basement and another firefighter behind him fell on top of him, knocking Alex’s helmet off.

“They were both trapped in the basement,” Chief Trauernicht reports. “They tried to jump up to grab on to the floor joist above but it was burned through. This was when one of his gloves slipped off. So Alex helped the other firefighter up by letting him step on his back.”

Now Alex was in the hole by himself, getting seriously burned while his colleagues tried to get him out of there. First they dropped a hose down thinking he could pull himself up, but by this point, the chief said, he was too exhausted and his hands hurt too bad. Next they sent down a ladder, but it was too short so another one was grabbed. Exhausted, his hands severely burned, he summoned all his strength to grab onto the ladder and he was finally pulled out. The chief said he has severe burns to his palms, forearms, and calves and second degree burns to his head and ears.

It’s an amazing story and our thoughts and prayers go out to Alex for a full and speedy recovery from his injuries. And we stand in awe of Alex’s selfless devotion to others and his commitment to service even under the most difficult of circumstances.


Photo: former UC Davis student firefighter Alex Galang recovering from his burns at the UC Davis Medical Center. (photo credit – UC Davis Fire Department)

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In the news

Chancellor Linda Katehi: Global Partnerships to Feed the World

January 15th, 2015 @ 6:16 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

On January 14, I spoke at the UC Davis – Mars Symposium that was organized as part of the official launch of our new Innovation Institute for Food and Health, which we are jointly creating with Mars Incorporated. As Chancellor of UC Davis, I could not be more proud of the outstanding collection of innovators and scientific leaders we assembled for this symposium of historic importance.

We want to take the best minds, the best innovators and the best scientists on our campus and team them up with their counterparts at Mars—and eventually with other key partners—to achieve big-impact breakthroughs in food, agriculture and health.

Without truly transformative advances in how we feed and nourish our growing population, which is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the problem of chronic undernourishment will get much worse.

Over the years, UC Davis has become the world’s premier university for agricultural scholarship and research. As such, we intend to take our expertise, build on it with Mars and other important partners, and discover the breakthroughs that will transform and enhance the world’s food system and our food security.

The potential for breakthroughs and change in this area is similar to how the innovators of Silicon Valley and their collaborators have transformed how we consume and process information—and in doing so, transformed the world.

I look forward to the great work we will do as we search for the products and technologies that will bring about the types of transformative impacts that benefit our state, our nation and our world.

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