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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: Celebrating the Legacy of Cesar Chavez

March 19th, 2014 @ 10:26 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

The story of Cesar Chavez is a simple one that overwhelms us with the power of his will and the warmth of his heart. The son of California farm workers, he grew up in a small impoverished community. He did not have the means to educate himself, but he loved reading. Chavez, the great leader of whose birthday later this month is a state holiday, understood that education is the single greatest tool for personal fulfillment and a productive life.

Last Saturday I joined almost 2,000 Latino/a middle-school and high-school students and their parents, other family members or friends who came together to celebrate Cesar Chavez’s life and work and to learn more about College and UC Davis. This is the second year we have been the host for this Youth Leadership Conference and we hope to continue with this tradition for years to come.

This conference is organized by UC Davis alumnus Rene Aguilera who in 2001 had a wonderful idea.  Wanting to motivate more students to pursue a college education as a way to improve their lives and their communities, he founded the Cesar Chavez Youth Leadership Conference. Now in its 14th year, the annual conference is bigger and better than ever, with about 1,000 middle and high school students from 18 California school districts and their families expected to attend the event this Saturday on our campus.

I love this conference because it brings to our campus so many young minds who are hungry for learning and who want to know what it means to be a college student. For UC Davis, this conference  inspires young students and their families to get the most out of the educational opportunities that are out there for them.

During my visits to the conference, I often tell the students my own story about growing up poor in a small Greek village and asking my mother how I would escape the poverty I saw all around me. She always told me the same thing: that education was the only way. As UC Davis chancellor, I want nothing more than to help all hard-working students find a similar pathway to success.

In late March, movie theaters around the country will show the life and work of Cesar Chavez and his accomplishments. I will make it a point to see this movie and I would like to encourage you to do the same.


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Chancellor Linda Katehi: Leaving the “Melting Pot” behind: Celebrating our differences becomes core to our community

February 27th, 2014 @ 11:16 am by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

When I was a college student in Greece in the 70s, my friends and I took classes in American Culture and Language at the Hellenic-American Union in Athens. The location was very close to our campus and after our regular coursework we would walk together to the beautiful multistory building that housed the offices and the classrooms of that organization. Classes were offered in the evening and the most appealing part of this program was that the instructors were all Americans who would not speak a word of Greek. That was important for us. I remember my first day in class when we talked about the American culture. The instructor proudly said that despite the fact that America (for Greeks this means the U.S.) was a country of immigrants, all Americans have the same culture. When we asked why, he said, “In America everyone goes into the Melting Pot.” Then I asked what the “melting pot” was and he mentioned, “something like a fondue, you put all kinds of cheese in there and it comes out as one.” I was left that day with the sense of boiling cheese and I thought how painful it could be to boil in this hot pot.

Forty years later, with almost thirty-five spent in the U.S., I have gladly seen this “Melting Pot” metaphor melting away. I am so pleased I did not have to melt under high heat and pressure and I was able to become a true American in my own way. I have also seen our students trying to do the same. Celebrating who we are in all ways which make us different from others is truly American and our students expect from us at least a recognition of that.

Our week of the Principles of Community started on Monday, February 24, with a student-organized event, the Cultural Awareness Night, to celebrate diversity on our campus. The richness of our diversity was so visible that we all were in awe about the strong community at UC Davis. It was attended by about 150 students and staff and featured cultural performances, cultural attire presentations, music by bands, spoken word and open mic. I got to see for the first time a performance on the Punjabi folk dance Bhangra by our UC Davis students. Bhangra has its origin in the Punjab subcontinent of India. Bhangra dance is based on music from dhol, folk singing, and the chimta. The accompanying songs are small couplets called bolis. Men wore a kurta and pagri (turban) and female students wore salwar-kameez. It was very elegant and I am sharing a picture with you:


Dancers from Cultural Awareness Night at UC Davis

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Chancellor Linda Katehi: 2014 State of the Campus Address

February 24th, 2014 @ 5:54 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

One UC Davis

I was honored to give the State of the Campus Address for 2014 to representatives of the Academic Senate and Academic Federation at the Student Community Center this afternoon. Our campus has made great progress in the past five years despite the steep cuts in state funding. If you are interested in my presentation please find it here (PDF). There are many things to be proud of and a lot to credit to our faculty, staff and students. Here are some highlights I am proud to share with you :

  • In 2013-2014, 52% of our students pay no tuition; 45% of our students are Pell Grant recipients
  • As of Fall 2013, 68% of our students paid less than 25K to graduate with a baccalaureate degree
  • Last year, 40 faculty received top honors awards from national and international academies
  • Our incoming class in Fall 2013 was the most diverse and most academically accomplished
  • In 2012-2013, our research awards grew again to a new record high of $754 million and during the same time we invested $15 million in the RISE (Research Investment in Engineering and Sciences) and IFHA (Interdisciplinary Frontiers in Humanities and Arts) programs.
  • In September 2013, we completed our $1 billion Comprehensive Campaign and this year we are well within reaching the goal of $160 million
  • In the Fall of 2013 and as part of our 2020 initiative we started recruiting an additional 300 new faculty. By 2020, between the new faculty positions and open positions from retirements our campus will recruit and hire almost 700 new faculty
  • Last year we invested $20 million in improving student advising and counseling, increasing TA positions, reducing waiting lists and improving labs

There is yet more to do to support the core mission of our university; to educate our students and create breakthrough scholarship and research. This coming year we will focus in continuing our efforts to improve the student experience, improve the campus climate, support our faculty and staff and improve our facilities as part of a well thought out capital plan.

If you want to learn more. please look through my presentation (PDF). Please send me your comments and suggestions at:

Go Aggies


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Expanding opportunity at UC Davis

January 16th, 2014 @ 12:56 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Amanjot Kaur, a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is one of the inaugural Central Valley Scholars at UC Davis.

Amanjot Kaur, a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is one of the inaugural Central Valley Scholars at UC Davis.

As a public university, UC Davis holds a special responsibility to make our world class education accessible and affordable to all students. As Chancellor, I consider this my highest priority, which is why I am so pleased that today the Obama Administration announced a plan of action for increasing college access and success for low-income and disadvantaged students. Because of business here on campus, I was unable to attend the special event at the White House announcing this new effort, but I join with colleges and universities across the country in reaffirming our commitment to making the dream of higher education attainable.

To that end, I am happy to announce the expansion of two key programs at UC Davis:

The Special Transitional Enrichment Program (STEP) provides first-generation, low-income freshman students with transitional classes and skills development activities to enhance their capacity in meeting academic goals. This year, 50 additional students will participate and ultimately there will be capacity for every eligible student to participate.

We are also growing our Transfer Opportunity Program (TOP) to 35 community colleges. This program helps community college students seamlessly transition into UC Davis academic programs, providing access and ensuring success of first-generation and low-income students.

These two efforts are just part of a much larger effort to fulfill our mission as a public university. Through such programs as the Aggie Grant Plan, the Central Valley Scholars, the Guardian Scholars and the Linda Frances Alexander Scholars, we continue to make opportunity one of our highest ideals. What is more, these programs contribute to the massive endeavor across the entire University of California system that has set the standard nationwide for providing educational opportunity to low-income students.

Indeed, I am very proud of all that UC Davis does to ensure that all students, regardless of economic status, receive a world-class education. During the last academic year, UC Davis provided $264 million in non-loan aid to undergraduate students. In all, 69 percent of undergraduate students received some form of non-loan aid. In fact, 53 percent received enough aid to have all of their system-wide tuition and fees covered. In addition, as part of the Campaign for UC Davis, we raised $135 million for student support, which equates to nearly 1,500 student scholarships and fellowships.

I look forward to helping make the White House’s new effort a success and to ensuring that the doors to UC Davis remain wide open to students in California and all over the world.

Supporting the next generation of women leaders

December 6th, 2013 @ 5:11 pm by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

UC Davis students are changing the world. Earlier this week, I received yet another reminder of just how true that is. On Monday, I joined five other women in a panel discussion on campus where we discussed our experiences as women in leadership and examined how we can break down the barriers that create such wide disparities at the higher levels of business, politics and academe. In addition to myself, the panel included a state legislator, three CEOs and my friend and colleague Maureen Stanton. It was a lively and interesting discussion. Hearing the thoughts and experiences of my fellow panelists was both informative and inspiring.

But perhaps most inspiring for me was that the event was made possible by two of our graduate students. Nicole Chaffee, a doctoral student in Chemistry, and Jeni Lee, who is pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, are both passionate about promoting opportunities for women and created the Women in Leadership Series and Panel as a means to build dialogue on this vital issue and pursue solutions that empower women and ensure opportunity for all. The response has been outstanding and their events have brought together undergraduate and graduate students, high school students, UC Davis faculty and community members in building an ever wider coalition in support of increasing opportunities for women. It is easy to imagine the wide-reaching positive effect that Nicole and Jeni’s efforts will have as not only will those who attended and engaged with the series and panel event be instructed, inspired and mentored, but they will also have the tools and motivation to mentor others and continue the immensely positive results of Jeni and Nicole’s efforts. The fact that Nicole and Jeni are both women working in the STEM fields, a cause so dear to my heart, only adds to why I think so highly of what they have accomplished.

The reality is that our entire student body is made up of people like Jeni and Nicole. They are dedicated to making the world a better place, and when they see a problem, they do not wait around for someone else to come along and solve it. They roll their sleeves up and get to work. I look forward to what Jeni and Nicole will accomplish next.