The Irony of Fate
She graduated from the Athens Polytechnic Institute in 1977, and came to the U.S. for further studies in 1979. She earned her Master's Degree and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from one of the top universities in the country. A few years later, Linda Katehi - a brilliant woman who comes from the historic island of Salamina (where the famous battle that saved ancient Greek civilization and allowed it to be spread to the West took place) - became chancellor of the the renowned University of California, Davis. But, as the irony of fate would have it, this graduate of the Athens Polytechnic Institute was forced last Friday to order the university campus police to destroy the tents that student protesters had set up on campus as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, as the entire world saw for itself on video, one police officer used pepper spray on about 20 students who were seated on the ground in handcuffs. This action was deplorable, sadistic, and completely unnecessary. Of course, the video caused an international outrage. And, of course, it has brought about the exact opposite results of what Dr. Katehi would have wanted. Instead of weakening the Occupy Wall Street movement, it has generated public support for it and strengthened it. Dr. Katehi immediately countered with a smart move. She made a series of public appearances and spoke to the media treading a very fine line. On the one hand, she says that she "assumes full responsibility," but on the other hand she is distancing herself from the police violence. In fact, she has suspended the responsible parties from duty. The UC-Davis faculty issued a statement calling for her resignation, and termed her leadership a "general failure." Who knows what is really behind this move? On her part, Dr. Katehi told ABC’s Good Morning America that "I really feel confident at this point the university needs me.” She shouldn't be too confident... This situation is reminiscent of another sad story involving Dr. Peter Diamandopoulos, ex-president of Adelphi University on Long Island. The faculty association turned against him for their own labor interests, but they hid behind financial allegations. Can Dr. Katehi weather the storm of public outcry? I doubt it. Not because she did anything wrong. On the contrary, according to the law, she was obliged to clear the campus of these tents. But because as head of the University she is responsible for everything that happens - good and bad alike - regardless of whether or not she is at fault. It is a shame that once again a Greek American university president has found themselves in the eye of a media storm without being at fault. Of course, it would be impossible for one not to point to the irony of fate regarding this alumnus of the Athens Polytechnic Institute, who, unlike the kids at UCal, enjoyed student asylum when she was attending classes there.