California university chancellor resigns after ethics probe
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The embattled chancellor of the University of California, Davis resigned on Tuesday, the university system president said, after allegations the school spent $175,000 to quash negative internet posts prompted an ethics probe.
Linda Katehi was placed on administrative leave in April, just days after the Sacramento Bee newspaper published documents it said showed the university paid consultants at least $175,000 to combat negative posts about the school and Katehi after campus police pepper-sprayed student protesters in 2011.
In the wake of the news, the Office of UC President Janet Napolitano launched an investigation on the social media allegations and other issues, including the employment of Katehi's immediate family members at the campus.
A redacted copy of the report provided by the university system said Katehi misled and potentially lied to Napolitano and the public by saying she was not involved with the social media campaign.
The report also said that while there was no evidence of nepotism with regard to the hiring of her son and daughter-in-law at the school, Katehi did not strictly adhere to university policy on the matter.
Napolitano's office said the investigation "found the chancellor had exercised poor judgment, not been candid with University leadership, and violated multiple University policies."
Katehi also faced questions over her acceptance of paid seats on the boards of DeVry Education Group and textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons.
Katehi, who had been chancellor since 2009, apologized in a letter to students in March 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.
Melinda Guzman, an attorney for Katehi, said the investigation found "no policy violations in the areas of alleged nepotism, conflicts, financial mismanagement of funds or personal gain."
Guzman told Reuters Katehi would return to her position on the faculty as a distinguished professor in the college of engineering and keep the title of chancellor emeritus.
Napolitano's office said a search for a new chancellor would begin immediately and Provost Ralph Hexter would continue serving as acting chancellor.
Video showing seated student protesters being pepper-sprayed by campus police came to symbolize law enforcement aggression against anti-Wall Street protesters. School officials agreed in September 2012 to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed over the actions.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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