Linda Katehi, the first female chancellor emerita of the University of California, Davis, exposes the cutthroat world of higher academia, including her battle against sexism, in this gripping memoir about persevering through relentless persecution.
Katehi grew up on the Greek island of Salamis in a family that was rich only in heritage. When she complained about being poor, her mother responded: “Then go to school and be a good student. This is the only thing that can save you.” With a natural love and giftedness for mathematics, Katehi eventually moved to America and advanced in the male-dominated world of engineering, winning awards and accepting positions never previously held by women.
Yet, her dream-come-true turned into a nightmare. Upon accepting the position of chancellor at UC, Davis, Katehi was shunned by many of her peers and persistently harassed by the media. By 2016 she was under investigation for various allegations, including nepotism and misuse of university revenue. Her “Greek Pride” forced her to endure and defend her innocence through seven harrowing years of scrutiny, ridicule and blatant lies about her conduct and character.
In this compelling memoir, Katehi masterfully uses snippets of her beloved Greece’s history to mirror her own struggles, a delightful technique that educates readers and celebrates her rich cultural heritage. She writes with the breathtaking imagery of a poet. Remembering walking to school with her friends on snow-covered streets, she writes: “We left behind us footprints, like a flock of black birds on a white sky, sometimes grouped together and other times spaced apart as though dancing to their own tune.” Her openness and vulnerability regarding her feelings, family and personal life throughout her ordeal remind us that there are real people behind the headlines.
With its unique glimpse into the politics and inner workings of the university system, Katehi’s memoir is an exceptional addition to the emerging stories of women breaking barriers in their professions.