May 2016

Dear Alumni,

By now, many of you have learned from news media that the UC Office of the President has placed Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi on temporary leave and named me as Acting Chancellor. UC President Janet Napolitano informed the Chancellor and the public of her decision on April 27 and has appointed an independent investigator.

I have been proud to work with Linda as her provost for more than five years. I have great respect and affection for her. She has done outstanding work leading this university. The prospect of working with her was, in fact, one of the main reasons I came to UC Davis. 

I share Chancellor Katehi’s forward-looking vision for this university and plan to keep working hard on the commitments we have made together. This includes the strengthening of our leadership in addressing issues of global importance such as climate change, food sustainability and public health.

A leadership transition of this magnitude, even a temporary one, is a formidable undertaking and raises many questions and concerns. But I assure you that, during my time as Acting Chancellor, I will do all I can to make sure we continue to pursue our core commitments as vigorously and creatively as we have done in recent years.

These commitments include excellence in teaching and research; keeping a first-rate education accessible and affordable to all students, regardless of their background; and creating a fully diverse and inclusive campus environment where all members of the UC Davis community can succeed, excel and thrive.

As challenging as this period of transition is, the important work of UC Davis is proceeding.

To ensure full functionality at UC Davis, I have appointed an outstanding colleague with a distinguished history at UC Davis to serve as Acting Provost. Ken Burtis, a UC Davis alumnus, brings a wealth of administrative experience and goodwill to the job of managing the daily operation of the campus and working with deans to recruit and retain a diverse and talented faculty.

Our three dean searches—for the College of Biological Sciences, the Graduate School of Management and the College of Letters and Science—all remain on course.

Almost immediately after being appointed Acting Chancellor, I met with many of our major donors and members of the Chancellor's Board of Advisors. I am happy to report that they remain firm in their commitment to our campus and their optimism about our future.

Planning is under way for the next fundraising campaign, and we are taking steps to accommodate the greater number of students who will be on campus this fall. I want to emphasize that our university is in excellent financial shape; we do not have the structural deficit that UC Berkeley is struggling with.

Transparency in the decision-making and activities of campus administration remains a concern among some faculty, staff and students. We will continue to improve communications, more openly engage with our campus community and create more opportunities for students to be involved in administrative decisions. I have invited students who want to see for themselves what a chancellor does to sign up to shadow me for a day.

In closing, let me say that I greatly appreciate your understanding and your support during this transition period. As alumni, you all play and important role in telling the UC Davis story. I will make it a priority to keep our you up to date on the university. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.


Ralph J. Hexter
Acting Chancellor