California lawmakers seek university chancellor's resignation

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2016 5:53 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California lawmaker on Thursday joined at least three of his colleagues in seeking the resignation of University of California, Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi a day after reports surfaced that the school spent $175,000 to quash negative Internet posts.

Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto, whose district is in the Los Angeles area, cited the image campaign and a recent controversy over Katehi's acceptance of paid seats on the boards of a for-profit education group and a textbook company.

Those issues combined suggested "the best interests of the students weren't being served," Gatto said in a statement.

Democratic Assemblymen Kevin McCarty, Luis Alejo and Evan Low all asked for Katehi to step down last month, following reports Katehi had accepted paid seats on the boards of DeVry Education Group and textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons.

Katehi apologized last month in a letter to students for her role at DeVry, saying it violated UC policy and that she had resigned the seat.

She said her time between 2011 and 2014 on the board of John Wiley & Sons, however, did comply with university policy.

On Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee newspaper published documents online showing the university had paid consultants at least $175,000 to quash negative Internet posts about the school and its chancellor after campus police sparked outrage in 2011 by pepper-spraying student protesters.

University spokeswoman Dana Topousis defended the school's communications spending, saying in a statement on Thursday that news of the work being done by dedicated students and faculty at the university should not be lost in a tidal wave of posts that can follow negative incidents.

"Increased investment in social media and communications strategy has heightened the profile of the university to good effect," Topousis said in the statement.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)