Skip directly to: Main page content

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

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.

Aggie stars

Firefighter committed to our community

May 8th, 2013 @ 8:55 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Fire engineer, Cess Mercado (right) reviews how to force a locked door with new firefighter Michael McCartney, a former cadet.

Fire Engineer Cess Mercado (right) reviews how to force a locked door with new firefighter Michael McCartney, a former cadet. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

Firefighter Cess Mercado enjoys giving back to his community, whether putting out blazes or serving his country abroad.

Cess, who grew up just a short distance from the campus in Dixon, first began working with the UC Davis Fire Department through the Student Resident Firefighter Program. His motivation was a commitment to public service and camaraderie — both high points of the program.

Cess Mercado poses in front of his locker at the UC Davis Fire Department.

Alum Cess Mercado says there is nothing more rewarding than working for a community like UC Davis. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

As a student, he served double duty — taking classes and being a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. Cess graduated in 2002 with a degree in exercise science. After graduation, he was hired as a full-time UC Davis firefighter, and then one day after five years on the job, he got called to duty. His destination — Iraq, where he was deployed as a medic for 18 months.

For Cess, Iraq was a life-changing experience in many ways, reaffirming his commitment to public service. Now back at UC Davis, he brings this perspective to his job as a firefighter.

Today as we celebrate our annual Thank Goodness for Staff, I want to thank Cess and the entire UC Davis Fire Department for their commitment to the safety and the well-being of our community.

I also want to thank every one of our staff members who makes our campus what it is – a good place to work, study and live.


Aggie stars

Student offers artistic vision

April 30th, 2013 @ 9:54 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Landscape architecture students (l to r) Jana Schwartz, Hannah Levy, Toni Toscano and Amie Patel pose at the High Line in New York City.

Landscape architecture students (l to r) Jana Schwartz, Hannah Levy, Toni Toscano and Amie Patel visit the High Line, a public park in New York City.

For Jana Schwartz, giving back is what counts.

It’s what makes her education at UC Davis deeply rewarding. Not many fourth-year landscape architecture students get to play a significant role in the future Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.

But Jana did.

The four women work on the museum models at the WORKac office in New York City.

The four women work on the museum models at the WORKac office in New York City.

Last September, Jana and fellow students Amie Patel, Hannah Levy and Toni Toscano met architect Dan Wood of WORKac at the American Society of Landscape Architects’ annual meeting. Jana, who is the UC Davis chapter president of that association, has always talked about creating beautiful public spaces. And WORKac gave her just that opportunity.

The firm — one of the finalists to compete for the art museum design of the future Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art — asked Jana and her friends to fly to New York City and discuss how students viewed the planned museum. The students spent two weeks giving feedback to professional architects, answering questions and offering their points of view.

That’s the kind of opportunity UC Davis provides to enterprising students like Jana. She took her vision of special public places and contributed a strong student perspective to the upcoming art museum. I am grateful for her dedication to giving back to her campus community.