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UC Davis faculty rejects no-confidence vote on chancellor

The school came under national criticism after campus officers pepper-sprayed peaceful Occupy student protesters in November.

February 18, 2012|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
  • UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is escorted across the quad in November after she told more than 1,000 students and faculty she felt "horrible" about the pepper-spraying of nonviolent protesters by campus police.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is escorted across the quad in November… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

UC Davis faculty voted by a large margin to support the continued leadership of Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who has faced criticism about the Nov. 18 pepper-spraying of peaceful student demonstrators by campus police, officials said Friday evening.

In an online referendum, professors voted 697 to 312 to defeat a no-confidence measure that censured Katehi's handling of the controversial police action, according to an announcement by the campus Academic Senate. The motion sought to link her directly to the pepper-spraying and contended that she had failed "to act effectively to resolve the resulting crisis."

A rival measure that supported Katehi while also condemning the pepper-spraying passed by a narrower margin, 586 to 408. That resolution praised Katehi for improving the campus' academic stature since taking office in 2009 and noted that she apologized for the pepper-spraying and has moved to prevent similar actions in the future. "It is time to promote a constructive healing process rather than risk more harm by pressuring the chancellor to resign," it said.

Katehi declined to comment Friday about the vote, a campus spokeswoman said. In November, Katehi said she had authorized police to remove the Occupy protesters' tents from the campus quadrangle but not to use the pepper spray in the manner they did. The spraying, directly into students' faces, garnered national attention and outrage through an online video of the event.

UC system President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement that he was gratified by Friday's faculty vote. "In response to recent protest-related controversies, the chancellor has demonstrated both her integrity as a leader and her personal empathy for all members of the UC Davis community," Yudof said.

The UC Davis faculty also approved, 635 to 343, another resolution that condemned "both the dispatch of police and use of excessive force" at the November protests.

Nearly 2,700 professors were eligible to vote on the nonbinding resolutions; more than half of them chose not to participate.

Meanwhile, UC officials announced this week that an investigation into the pepper-spraying was taking longer than expected and that a resulting report would be not be finished until early next month. Retired state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, a former UC Davis law professor who is heading the investigation task force, said there is much information for the panel to review.

"While we are trying to be swift in releasing the report, we have an obligation to the campus community not to be hurried," he said.

Former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton is working on that probe for the task force.

larry.gordon@latimes.com

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