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posted by cmn32480 on Friday April 29 2016, @01:29PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the misappropriation-of-funds dept.

El Reg reports

Linda Katehi, the chancellor of the University of California, Davis, has been suspended pending an investigation into the decision to spent hundreds of thousand of dollars improving Google search results for her name, amid a range of other questionable activities.

The decision to put Katehi on paid administrative leave was made by UC President Janet Napolitano, who wrote a two-page letter(PDF) to Katehi noting she would be suspended for 90 days pending the outcome of a "rigorous and transparent investigation."

The revelation that Katehi's office had spent $175,000 in an effort to "achieve a reasonable balance of positive natural search results on common terms concerning UC Davis and Chancellor Katehi" was dug out by the Sacramento Bee looking into why UC Davis' "strategic communications budget" had jumped from $2.93M in 2009 to $5.47M in 2015.

The events Katehi was seeking to whitewash--when security officers pepper-sprayed sitting students back in 2011--received nationwide press attention for the seemingly callous way in which the undergraduates were treated. The news that the university had secretly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to remove that reputational stain was similarly covered.

[...] Napolitano's letter also puts a spotlight on other concerns over Katehi's behavior, including the employment of her son, her husband, and her daughter-in-law by the university.

[...] The letter [also] refers to complaints that student fees have been used for "unapproved instructional purposes" which would be "a serious violation of University policy".

[...] UC Davis students have been holding rallies calling for Katehi's resignation for over a week.

Previous: University of California in Davis Spent $175k on SEO and "Reputation Management"


Original Submission

Related Stories

Former UC Davis Chancellor Much More Obsessed With Her Online Reputation than Initially Thought 28 comments

TechDirt reports

Earlier this year, we discussed how UC Davis detailed in a report that it spent $175k with a reputation management firm to try bury the 2011 pepper-spraying incident that has become so infamous, as well as to bolster the positive reputation and search results of its former Chancellor, Linda Katehi.

[...] A new report has been issued that makes it clear that the $175k with the one reputation management vendor was just the tip of the iceberg, and that Katehi's obsession with her own online reputation was far more serious than anyone had known. Indeed, her attempts to meddle in her own online search results started long before the 2011 pepper-spraying incident.

[...] While the initial reporting indicated a single vendor had been paid $175k on Katehi's request to try to control messaging about the school and herself through a barrage of good, but trumped up, press, UC Davis actually hired three different reputation management firms to do this, all to the tune of over $400k. And she appears to have been more concerned with her own reputation than that of the school she was to be stewarding.

[...] It goes without saying that as we, the link above, and several other online media outlets are discussing these revelations, and placing them alongside the original 2011 incident for context, the work of the three vendors and the nearly half a million dollars paid to them has failed.

Previous: UC Davis Chancellor Suspended After $175,000 Online Name-Scrubbing Antics
University of California in Davis Spent $175k on SEO and "Reputation Management"


Original Submission

University of California in Davis Spent $175k on SEO and "Reputation Management" 42 comments

The University of California in Davis has spent $175,000 to try to improve its online image:

The University of California in Davis has spent $175,000 on search engine optimization (SEO) and online reputation management – to hide an embarrassing incident in which students were pepper-sprayed on campus. The massive bill has come to light this week after the Sacramento Bee filed information requests on the university's expenditure after it noticed that its "strategic communications budget" has nearly doubled from $2.93 million in 2009 to $5.47 million in 2015.

The newspaper found that the university had taken out several contracts aimed at "cleaning up the negative attention" that the university received when students were pepper-sprayed in November 2011 during a protest over large tuition fee hikes and in support of the broader Occupy movement of that time. The incident received worldwide attention when video was published of UC Davis police officer Lt. John Pike nonchalantly spraying a group of students with the chemical spray while they sat on the ground holding a peaceful rally.

[...] In an effort to limit the university's connection with the pepper-spraying, UC Davis hired Maryland-based Nevins & Associates for $15,000 a month for six months to "create and execute an online branding campaign" not just for the University of Davis, but also its chancellor Linda Katehi, who was widely criticized for her handling of the protests and faced calls for her resignation.

Here's the website of The University of California in Davis. Did I mention the University of California in Davis?


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @01:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @01:39PM (#338902)

    spent hundreds of thousand of dollars

    The revelation that Katehi's office had spent $175,000

    Technically not "hundreds." A hundred and change. Not yet two hundreds.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @01:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @01:51PM (#338914)

      Uh oh. You took wonkey_monkey's schtick.
      He's going to have an OCD breakdown now.
      I hope you are proud of yourself.

    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Friday April 29 2016, @02:26PM

      by ikanreed (3164) on Friday April 29 2016, @02:26PM (#338943) Journal

      Say the following two sentences and tell me which sounds right.

      "One and a half cars remained after the accident"
      "One and a half car remained after the accident"

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @02:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @02:49PM (#338957)

        Personally I would've said "over $100,000", using it in its narrowly-defined definition of "higher than this significant digit but not as high as the next."

        • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Friday April 29 2016, @03:05PM

          by ikanreed (3164) on Friday April 29 2016, @03:05PM (#338965) Journal

          There are better phrasings, but the pedantic accusation was one of being technically wrong. I side with the article writer in that respect.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @04:16PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @04:16PM (#339016)

            Your argument for which is technically correct is "this one sounds better"? WTF

            • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @05:59PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @05:59PM (#339073)

              Yes. Language is literally about what sounds better. Just like the rule for choosing whether to use the "a" or "an" indefinite article depends entirely on how it sounds.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @04:57PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @04:57PM (#339032)

        why not "one car and a half remained"

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday April 29 2016, @06:39PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday April 29 2016, @06:39PM (#339091)

      Is 1.75 past the plural threshold? Can we round up since it's more than 1.5?

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday April 30 2016, @04:49PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday April 30 2016, @04:49PM (#339519) Journal

        That's one and a half time [sic] enough for me.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Friday April 29 2016, @01:40PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday April 29 2016, @01:40PM (#338903)

    The "pepper-spray cop" photos disappeared for a few years, but are now turning up all over the place again thanks to the efforts of UC Davis to scrub them off the 'net.

    PR flaks hate the fact that the Internet never forgets.

    --
    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday April 29 2016, @02:00PM

      by c0lo (156) on Friday April 29 2016, @02:00PM (#338923) Journal

      PR flaks hate the fact that the Internet never forgets.

      On the contrary, real "PR professionals" love it for this very reason; it's like a house that gets dirty for professional cleaners.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @01:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @01:48PM (#338908)

    Nobody gets to spend almost $200,000 without accomplices.

    Let's assume she's the "fall gal" here and keep identifying other miscreants, possibly higher up the food chain...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @02:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @02:00PM (#338924)

      Shes the top dog at UC Davis and called the shots. Katehi has been horrible from the start. Decision after decision Katehi has made the wrong choice. Too many of them for me to want to list while I sit on the toilet.
      I for one am glad she is not running the show at UC Davis anymore.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday April 29 2016, @02:03PM

      by c0lo (156) on Friday April 29 2016, @02:03PM (#338926) Journal

      Nobody gets to spend almost $200,000 without accomplices.

      Really now?!? I know persons who would not even blink the waste them in a single day.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Friday April 29 2016, @04:33PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Friday April 29 2016, @04:33PM (#339022)

      This "higher up" [dhs.gov] will bring back a lot of wonderful memories. I'm sure she's completely uninvolved in any misdeeds of course.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bitstream on Friday April 29 2016, @01:57PM

    by bitstream (6144) on Friday April 29 2016, @01:57PM (#338918) Journal

    Hmm.. Increase tuition fee --> Protests --> Reputation scrubbing costs --> GOTO 10? ;-)

    Of course students need to sponsor the rulers of the Univer..sity.. :p

    Seems like something is seriously wrong in the organization. Events like this don't happen in a vacuum. Just saying.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday April 29 2016, @02:07PM

      by c0lo (156) on Friday April 29 2016, @02:07PM (#338929) Journal

      Events like this don't happen in a vacuum.

      The absence of evidence should not be taken as the evidence of absence: I must insist on a controlled experiment.
      Place UC Davis under a vacuum dome or send it in space.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Friday April 29 2016, @03:08PM

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Friday April 29 2016, @03:08PM (#338970)

      the bitch gets a strongly worded letter.

      in 91 days she will be back on the job again. and with no loss of pay during the whole time.

      if you read the pdf, its amazing how much she favored her family in terms of high paying sweetheart jobs.

      this woman is corrupt thru and thru. immediate suspension is what she needs, NOT A PAID VACATION!

      dammit. strongly worded letters and 'promises' are worth less than a cup of coffee, these days. this is bullshit.

      --
      "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
      • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Friday April 29 2016, @03:19PM

        by bitstream (6144) on Friday April 29 2016, @03:19PM (#338977) Journal

        she favored her family in terms of high paying sweetheart jobs

        So that the kind of expenses the tuition fees shall cover. I wonder how long it takes before their de facto monopoly starts to crack due to cost/benefit ratio.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday April 30 2016, @04:50PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday April 30 2016, @04:50PM (#339520) Journal

        She should have been fired years ago, after the incident. This, now, adds insult to injury.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @02:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @02:09PM (#338933)

    University of California-Davis, under the leadership of Chancellor Linda Katehi, has launched a program to help match orphaned puppies with responsible, caring owners. Hundreds of puppies are currently locked in kennels scattered throughout northern California, longing every day for the love, affection, and outdoor activity young dogs crave.

    This program will not cost any monies from the university's general fund, noted Katehi, whose strong leadership has been praised by UC President Janet Napolitano.

    UC Davis was also in the news regarding an unfortunate incident involving pepper spray, which turns out to have been instigated by professional troublemakers brought in from the outside.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mcgrew on Friday April 29 2016, @02:16PM

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday April 29 2016, @02:16PM (#338937) Homepage Journal

    The Register leaves too much stuff out of too many stories. I stopped clicking their links a long time ago, but it isn't hard to find it in a real newspaper. [theatlantic.com]. The Register is the tech equivalent of the National Enquirer.

    I have yet to read either version.

    --
    Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Friday April 29 2016, @04:13PM

      by Alfred (4006) on Friday April 29 2016, @04:13PM (#339013) Journal
      So...Batboy does IT? Batboy escapes from IT? Jon Benet Ramsey was killed by a falling server rack?
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheGratefulNet on Friday April 29 2016, @02:36PM

    by TheGratefulNet (659) on Friday April 29 2016, @02:36PM (#338947)

    why does everyone who does really bad shit, get paid leave?

    how did we, as a society, allow that? especially for cops. bad cops get paid vacations when they act extra bad. pisses me off. this is not punishment!

    the 90 days is a 'lets hope everyone forgets and it blows over' period of time. bullshit.

    what are the odds that the bitch is still employed, 91 days from now, in her current job?

    the students should riot. I'm surprised they are just doing nothing. otoh, they probably remember what happened to their classmates last time someone got 'uppity' and questioned authority.

    --
    "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @03:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @03:06PM (#338967)

      Because it is impossible to outright fire people in education.

      Everything is done by committee. This means that you have to wait on the bureaucratic machine to warm up and fain usefulness.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @06:50PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @06:50PM (#339097)

        s/fain/feint [google.com]

        -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

        • (Score: 2) by dime on Friday April 29 2016, @08:12PM

          by dime (1163) on Friday April 29 2016, @08:12PM (#339135)

          -e 's/feint/feign/'

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Fnord666 on Friday April 29 2016, @03:08PM

      by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 29 2016, @03:08PM (#338969) Homepage

      why does everyone who does really bad shit, get paid leave?

      Because the presumption of innocence until proven guilty extends beyond the court of criminal law and into civil society. The chancellor has been removed from the environment while an investigation proceeds. Once the investigation concludes, action will be taken based on the results. That may include criminal proceedings if warranted.

      • (Score: 2) by GungnirSniper on Friday April 29 2016, @04:05PM

        by GungnirSniper (1671) on Friday April 29 2016, @04:05PM (#339005) Journal

        No, it doesn't. We apply completely different standards in our schools and the dreaded private sector. Just an allegation of sexual anything around students, or an off-color joke around an uptight person at work can lead to a new personal definition of employee-at-will. I'd imagine the chancellor, in this case, will keep the paid vacation money regardless of the outcome.

        Of course, there's a larger issue of why government employees get such better "presumption of innocence" over the average worker, and why they still get pensions and lifetime accumulation of sick time. At some point this whole system is going to pop. Government workers should not get better retention, benefits, and retirement while the rest of us have little security, benefits, and if we're lucky a 401k match.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @06:03PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @06:03PM (#339075)

          > there's a larger issue of why government employees get such better "presumption of innocence" over the average worker,

          For rank-and-file gov employees it is because they have a union.
          For high-ranking employees, government or not, it is because they have contractual protections.

          But unions are evil especially when they give the hoi-polloi the same privileges of rank.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Saturday April 30 2016, @12:52AM

        by HiThere (866) on Saturday April 30 2016, @12:52AM (#339278) Journal

        Your assertion would be reasonable if there weren't a long train of people who have been suspended with pay long enough for the furor to die down, and then reinstated without other punisment, and without trial for their purported crimes.

        As such, one suspects that the suspensions are PR moves...and possibly that the "suspended" one was actually doing precisely what was desired by those higher in power, who just didn't happen to get caught. This won't always be true, but given the frequency of this procedure it is probably usually true.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday April 29 2016, @03:11PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 29 2016, @03:11PM (#338971) Homepage Journal

      I mostly agree with you - at least with the sentiment. But, "the students should riot"? Really?

      I'm cool with student demonstrations. I'm cool with civil disobedience. I'm 100% with internet activism, letters to the editors, publishing opinions in the school papers, advertising on television, radio, internet, newspapers, or whatever. But, riots? When it turns into rioting, well - don't expect any sympathy when this happens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YX95QSKBODo [youtube.com]

      --
      There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @04:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29 2016, @04:02PM (#339003)

        When it turns into rioting, well - don't expect any sympathy when this happens

        Good thing G. Washington and others didn't listen to people like you.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday April 29 2016, @04:13PM

        by sjames (2882) on Friday April 29 2016, @04:13PM (#339014) Journal

        What, when an agent provocateur employed by the FBI fires a gun at a peaceful rally and the national guard goes on a turkey shoot?

        • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Runaway1956 on Friday April 29 2016, @04:53PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 29 2016, @04:53PM (#339030) Homepage Journal

          That is one of the claims made after the fact, yes, "The FBI did it!" I've never put any stock in that nonsense. Were you there, by chance? I wasn't. But, I know kids. I know the hippies who were staging the protests, just as well as I know the guardsmen. Excitable kids, allowed things to get out of control, and some grunt fired, out of fear. Shit happens. It's tough on everyone. But, no agent provocateur. It wasn't necessary.

          --
          There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Fnord666 on Friday April 29 2016, @03:13PM

    by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 29 2016, @03:13PM (#338972) Homepage
    For those who might be interested in reading the original article at the Sacramento Bee rather than a rehash at El Reg, Here is a link [sacbee.com].