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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

Our future depends on innovation

August 2nd, 2013 @ 4:00 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Professor Andy Frank riding in style.

Professor Andy Frank riding in style.

New discoveries are made on our campus every day. Thanks to partnerships between government and public research universities like UC Davis, much of this innovation has driven the American economy and led to technological advances that have improved the lives of millions.

Innovations by people like mechanical and aeronautical engineering professor Andy Frank, who has come to be known as the “father of the plug-in hybrid,” could not have been possible without support from the U.S. Department of Energy as well as leading companies in the auto industry.

Andy has been working on developing fuel-efficient vehicles for more than 30 years. He was in high school, building hot rods, when he began exploring ways to get better performance and better fuel economy. He spent a 10-years working in aerospace engineering, but returned to his automotive roots in 1972 when he developed what may have been the first plug-in hybrid car.

During his tenure at UC Davis, Andy has worked with teams of students who have designed and built a series of award-winning vehicles for the Futurecar, Futuretruck and ChallengeX competitions.

In 2006, he established a company, Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI), to refine his inventions for market. In 2007, the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis established a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Research Center to conduct the first consumer studies of plug-ins.

And in 2010, Andy became one of the very first people to take delivery of a mass-produced plug-in hybrid: the Chevrolet Volt. Some of his former students had worked on the Volt’s design.

Investing in innovation is vital for America’s future. This week, I joined my higher education colleagues across the country to send an open letter to our leaders in Washington urging them to close the innovation deficit. Such investments, especially in tough times, are essential to drive the innovation, economic growth and job creation needed to keep America strong.

Aggie stars

‘Fostering’ our students’ dreams

July 1st, 2013 @ 9:13 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Members of Alpha Delta Chi pose at the Botelli's Valley Springs ranch.

Members of Alpha Delta Chi at the Botelli’s Valley Springs ranch

Working on a college campus is a truly rewarding experience for Bo Botelli. Like many of our staff, she works closely with students and has the opportunity to impact young lives.

The Botelli's with members of Alpha Gamma Omega celebrating the fraternity's 20th year reunion

The Botelli’s with members of Alpha Gamma Omega celebrating the fraternity’s 20th year reunion

Bo has been working at UC Davis since 1985, most recently as a senior designer in the Student Affairs Marketing and Communications department. She and her husband, Don Botelli, have also served as fraternity and sorority parents to Alpha Gamma Omega and Alpha Delta Chi since 1992.

Never having had children of their own, the Botellis were thrilled to be invited by Alpha Gamma Omega to be part of a unique collaboration as “foster parents.”

In their role, they have mentored, supported and taught these students valuable life skills. In return, they have been blessed to see the students grow from their experiences. Bo keeps in contact with many of the students and proudly reports that they have gone on to do wonderful things.

Bo and Don have hosted numerous events in their Valley Springs country home. The guest book Bo started to commemorate these events has evolved into six journals with pages of thank yous, thoughts and stories from students and their families. The students have also contributed much of their time to helping Bo and Don in their home – something they are both extremely grateful for.

From left, Bo Botelli, Connor Bryant and Don Botelli at the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences commencement.

From left: Bo Botelli, Connor Bryant and Don Botelli at the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences commencement

I had the pleasure of meeting Bo and her fraternity son Connor Bryant over commencement weekend. I was touched to learn about her role as a “foster parent.” Her story says a lot about the quality of our staff and their dedication to helping our students move forward in pursuit of their dreams.

Aggie stars

3 siblings, 3 degrees: bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D.

June 19th, 2013 @ 2:49 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Chang siblings pose for a picture.

The Chang siblings, from left: Sarah, Frank and JoJo. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

What a commencement we just had! Congratulations to everyone!

We’re still figuring out the final numbers, but, for all of 2012-13, we conferred an estimated 8,810 degrees, including 6,940 bachelor’s degrees and 1,870 advanced degrees.

Here’s an interesting story about three of our spring graduates: JoJo, Sarah and Frank Chang, two sisters and a brother who have always been close and supportive of one another’s dreams. So, when one of them came to UC Davis, all of them came to UC Davis — and last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each of them received a degree, something that would make any parent extremely proud.

JoJo received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering; Sarah, a master’s degree in education; and, Frank, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Chang siblings jump in the air.

Sarah, Frank and JoJo hope to find jobs in the same geographical area so they can continue supporting one another. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

They’re from Berkeley, where JoJo did her undergraduate work at UC Berkeley. Then, in 2007, when it was time for Sarah to go to college, she chose UC Davis for its art program. JoJo came, too, for graduate studies, earning a master’s on her way to getting a Ph.D.

Frank arrived in 2008, allowing all three to live together again.

As an undergraduate, Sarah double-majored in art and psychology. Now, with a master’s in education, she plans to teach while pursuing an art career. She says her fondest memories here include taking a class from Wayne Thiebaud, meeting painter David Hollowell and, most important, having the support of her siblings along the way.

Although JoJo attended our sister campus as an undergrad, she still considers herself a lifelong Aggie. She plans to remain in academia, working in the areas of research and development. JoJo was very involved in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics to youth as part of the COSMOS program, and she also worked with Professor David Horsley in the Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) lab on campus.

Besides having his sisters here, Frank was attracted to UC Davis because of our campus’s environmental awareness. An aspiring doctor, Frank has worked to help promote health education and wellness in his internships with the Student Health and Wellness Center and the UC Davis Health System. He credits his sisters’ support for his success in being able to get closer to his dream and for the baking they did at home.

As a parent, I know what it’s like to be overcome with pride and emotion as you celebrate one child’s achievement. I can only imagine how proud Yu Lin Chang and Pao Wu are of their three children.

This is a tremendous accomplishment and a great example of Aggie Pride. I ask you to join me in congratulating JoJo, Sarah, Frank and their family for this great milestone. And, again, congratulations to our entire Class of 2013!


Aggie stars

Sign of the times: Undergrad to develop app for the Deaf

May 24th, 2013 @ 11:56 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Alexa Adamssits with her iPad that has the Google Glasses loaded as she holds up the sign language symbol of "idea"

Alexa Adams, a UC Davis biotechnology major with an emphasis on bioinformatics, signs the word “idea.” Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

Nurturing ideas that improve quality of life are central to our vision at UC Davis. Breaking down barriers for the deaf is what Alexa Adams, a second-year biotechnology student from Modesto, is driven to do.

She was first exposed to the Deaf community by her aunt, who works as an interpreter for hearing impaired students in Modesto City Schools. While interacting with these students, Alexa realized the communication gap that exists between the hearing and deaf worlds.

Alexa Adams poses in the lab.

Alexa has been working at the UC Davis Genome Center as a lab intern since her freshman year. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

She saw her opportunity to make a difference when Google announced “Project Glass” —a futuristic computer in a device that resembles a pair of eyeglasses. That’s because Glass has the unique ability to display auditory commands on a visual interface.

Alexa submitted her idea to develop an application for Glass that helps the deaf respond to the same prompts that the hearing do — such as a crosswalk chirp. She believes that this app has the possibility of helping the deaf better interact with those who don’t know sign language.

Alexa was chosen as one of 8,000 Google Glass Explorers. Her challenge now is to raise the $2,500 necessary for the prototype and supplies. And I’m excited to share that she has almost reached her goal!

The innovative ideas and visions of students like Alexa inspire me. And, when we give them the tools and knowledge to succeed, amazing things can happen.

Motivating young women

May 10th, 2013 @ 3:07 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

UC Davis students (l to r) Catherine Cox and Tonya Atkins share a laugh with professor Susan Kauzlarich in the chemistry lab.

UC Davis students (l to r) Catherine Cox and Tonya Atkins share a laugh with professor Susan Kauzlarich in the chemistry lab. Cheng Saechao/UC Davis.

Chemistry professor Susan Kauzlarich is inspired by positive role models for young women.

She came to UC Davis 25 years ago knowing that she wanted to make a difference in research and teaching. She is especially interested in motivating young women and minorities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By encouraging them to pursue these types of careers, she believes it will help make the world a better and more equitable place.

Stephanie L. Brock, one of Susan’s former graduate students, is now a chemistry professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. She praises Susan for her willingness to give insight and advice to her students and her ability to lead by example.

I am proud to see our faculty recognized for the great work they do. But more importantly, it is gratifying to see that we have talented people like Susan training our future scientists, especially women.

She was recently recognized for this work when the American Chemical Society awarded her with the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, which is given to those in chemistry who are leaders in mentoring.

As an engineer, I know what it’s like to see so few women rising in my field. That is why positive role models like Susan – who help young people break down barriers and open doors – create better days ahead for us all.