UC Davis Magazine Online
Volume 23
Number 3
Spring 2006
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  Larry Vanderhoef photo
Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef answers questions at a lunch meeting of faculty, staff and students. (Photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Under scrutiny for executive compensation and separation agreements, University of California and UC Davis leaders apologized and took steps to provide more oversight of university spending.

UC Davis was the first campus in the UC system to call for an audit following a series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing UC for paying some administrators more than had been reported to regents and the public. The UC Board of Regents also launched an outside audit, created an oversight committee and appointed a task force to review compensation policies and practices. And angry state lawmakers also asked for the Bureau of State Audits to conduct a review due this spring.

“Changes must be made,” UC President Robert Dynes told the state Senate Education Committee in a hearing in February. “The practices need to be revised.”

UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, in a meeting with faculty, staff and students, called for “change, clarity and transparency” in the UC compensation system. “We have learned a lot, and we have got to change, and we will.”

In his annual State of the Campus address before 100 members of the Academic Senate in February, Vanderhoef apologized for the turmoil brought on by a compensation agreement he made with Celeste Rose when she resigned last summer as vice chancellor of University Relations. “I am very sorry,” he said.

As part of an agreement between the campus and Rose, who had threatened to file a race-and-gender-discrimination lawsuit, the university appointed Rose to a two-year position as a senior adviser to the chancellor at $205,000 a year plus benefits.

The agreement says that Rose and the chancellor must mutually agree on any duties she performs in her position. The chancellor, in meetings with staff and faculty, said he and Rose had more difficulty than anticipated in agreeing on suitable projects. Vanderhoef has adamantly denied any discrimination.

“My intentions were only to protect the university. I truly wanted to avoid the financial and political costs of extended litigation,” the chancellor said, noting he was also concerned about retention and recruitment of faculty and staff, and about maintaining momentum in University Relations. Hesaid that, knowing what he knows now, he would not enter into the same agreement again.

Some faculty members, angered by the agreement, circulated a 50-signature petition calling for a vote of no confidence in the chancellor. Results of the advisory vote, expected in mid-March, were not available as the magazine went to press.

The Chronicle articles alleged that UC paid 105,000 employees $871 million in “bonuses, moving allowances, administrative stipends and other types of cash compensation in addition to salaries and overtime” in 2004–05.

However, UC officials said more than two-thirds of the total, or $600 million, was compensation paid to health sciences faculty for treating patients or conducting research, and for faculty summer teaching and research. Senior managers received $7 million, or less than 1 percent of the $871 million.

For updates and background on UC compensation, see www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/compensation.



  animal hoarding photo
Animal hoarders often pose as sanctuary organizations, like this one: the “Every Dog Needs a Home” sanctuary in Arkansas, whose owners were arrested in October when officials found nearly 500 dogs, some rescued from Hurricane Katrina, hungry and in filthy cages. (Photo courtesy Mountain Home Pets Inc.)

When Yolo County officials rescued 71 collies from a rural property near Esparto, the dogs were ill and injured and afraid of people. They had been living in crowded, narrow, outdoor kennels filled with their own waste. They were so infested with fleas that they had scratched their skin raw and worn down their teeth biting at themselves. Some were scarred from fighting, another had a painful congenital hip deformity, another was blind.

But the owner, a retired school teacher, denied that the animals were neglected. “No dog was ever mistreated,” he told The Sacramento Bee.

It was a classic case of “animal hoarding”—a psychological disorder that has only in the last decade become increasingly recognized as a mental illness by the public and law enforcement, says Catherine Toft, a professor in the College of Biological Sciences who specializes in the field of population biology. Toft is also a recognized expert on animal hoarding and was called in by animal care officials to help with the Yolo County case.

An animal hoarder, explains Toft, is a person who has more animals than he or she can care for but who doesn’t recognize that the condition of the animals has deteriorated. Inadequate nutrition and unsanitary conditions increasingly compromise the animals’ health, but the owner doesn’t notice.

Up to a quarter of a million animals a year are victims, estimates the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), which was started in 1997 by Tufts University researchers who first defined and named the disorder.

The basis of the behavior appears to be obsessive-compulsive disorder, caused by a brain chemistry imbalance, said Toft, but the focus on collecting live animals adds additional complexities that make the disorder very difficult to treat. And without treatment the recidivism rate nears 100 percent.

A consortium of agencies is needed to address cases of animal hoarding, says Toft. Intervention must help both the animals and the mentally ill hoarders who often neglect themselves and, in some cases, innocent family members like children, as well. Social services, law enforcement, humane societies and animal rescue organizations all have a role to play. But the burden can overwhelm the financial and operational resources of local agencies, particularly small rural counties, and because of that, Toft notes, many cases are not prosecuted.

In the Yolo County case, Toft herself and Woodland dog trainer Tracey Louper stepped in to care for the rescued collies. For the past year and a half, the two, along with some 20 dog-loving volunteers, have been providing daily care for the animals and finding foster and adoptive homes.

Hoarding cases “change your life,” said Toft. “But once you get to know the animals, there is just no choice. If you don’t do it, who will?”

For more information:

• The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium: www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding
• The Road Home K9 Rescue, a nonprofit organization founded by Toft and Louper to find homes for adoptable animals: www.theroadhome-dogs.org

— Teri Bachman




What would you say if we told you that that half-eaten pizza at the back of your refrigerator could power your electric guitar? What if you could heat your house all winter with cow dung and potato skins? UC Davis professor Ruihong Zhang is teaming with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to make this possible.

Zhang, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, has spent over 15 years studying biomass as a renewable energy source, making her the ideal person to guide SMUD’s “Leftovers to Lights” program, which transforms food waste into electricity. Given Sacramento’s massive organic waste production—a 2004 report by the California Biomass Collaborative placed it at over 70 million dry tons a year, of which 26 million could be converted into energy—Zhang predicts that trash could eventually power millions of homes.

Biomass refers to any waste product with significant organic content, including manure, food scraps, crop residues and even paper. Turning this garbage into electricity is a two-step process, as waste is first degraded into methane gas, which is then used to generate electricity. Zhang’s research focuses primarily on the first step, employing anaerobic bacteria to metabolize the food. This process occurs naturally, but is accelerated and made more efficient in Zhang’s laboratory thanks to controlled moisture and temperature levels, as well as a carefully chosen cocktail of bacteria.

The benefits of biomass as a power source are threefold, Zhang said. As with all renewable energy, biomass may allow cities like Sacramento to become less dependent on finite resources like fossil fuels. It also keeps all organic waste out of crowded and dirty landfills, reducing their sprawl and stink. Lastly, the emissions from the process pollute far less than traditional fuels.

In addition, with sponsorship from California Energy Commission and private industry, Zhang recently launched a $4 million project to build a biogas-energy demonstration plant on campus to help power the university with organic waste collected from Dixon and San Francisco. The grass clippings, food leftovers and animal manure generated on campus will be used as feedstock for the digesters.

Zhang sees tremendous potential in biomass conversion. “This is something that can help with sustainability,” she said. “Not just the sustainability of our energy supply, but of our society.”

— David Owen


A SITE FOR THE FARM1906 newspaper page


As the campus nears its 2008–09 centennial celebration, we take a look back at what was happening 100 years ago.

As the campus nears its 2008–09 centennial celebration, we take a look back at what was happening 100 years ago.

After months of anticipation, a state commission met behind closed doors in Gov. George Pardee’s office on April 5, 1906, to select a site for the University Farm. That meeting lasted more than three hours until nearly midnight, but when commission members emerged they announced their choice was unanimous—Davisville.

When word reached Davisville, the town burst into celebration with flags, fireworks and music, the weekly Davisville Enterprise reported in its next issue. “Davisville’s star is in the ascendancy,” the paper declared in a front-page article. So much a rising star that editor William Scott dropped Davisville’s “useless and confusing suffix” and renamed the paper the Davis Enterprise one week later.

But Davis boosters’ work in securing the University Farm was far from over. The state commission—whose members included Pardee and University of California President Benjamin Wheeler—made its decision on the condition that Davis obtain title to the 778-acre site and water rights.

Local leaders were still negotiating with three landowners and taking up a collection of money to buy the water rights. Then an epic calamity struck—San Francisco’s April 18, 1906, earthquake and fire.

The 5:12 a.m. quake was so strong that it woke people up in Davis, rattled pictures and bric-a-brac and sloshed water out of the town water towers, the Enterprise reported. Local residents crowded into the telegraph and telephone offices, trying in vain to reach friends and relatives in San Francisco. Within days, Davis residents set up relief tables at the train depot, serving food and providing other supplies to survivors fleeing San Francisco.

On May 2, the doggedly persistent Davis booster George Pierce Jr. made the first of several trips to the attorney general’s office in San Francisco to discuss documents needed for the University Farm. “San Francisco’s destruction is well nigh complete,” Pierce wrote in his journal. “It presents a stupendous field of desolation and destruction.”

Returning to the city a week later, Pierce found the destruction blocked his way to and from state offices there. Pierce was undeterred. “Walked down California Street to Kearny,” he later wrote. “Was forced to go up to Washington. Climbed debris to Battery, back to Washington and finally to ferry.”

— Kathleen Holder


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