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Chancellor in D.C. to see students, legislators — and an ambassador, too


By Dave Jones

Photo: Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi chats with UC Washington Center students during the April 16 reception at the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi chats with UC Washington Center students during the April 16 reception at the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C. (Ellyette Iverson/UC Washington Center)

Diplomacy and Aggie Pride came together Tuesday night (April 16) at the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., where the capital-area alumni group held a reception with Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, a native of Greece, and students newly admitted to UC Davis from in and around the District of Columbia.

The chancellor spent the next day on Capitol Hill, where, as UC Davis' No. 1 advocate, she had a jam-packed schedule of one-on-one meetings with five members of Congress, including all three who are Aggie alumni:

  • Dave Loebsack, Ph.D. ’82, a Democrat from southeast Iowa.
  • George Miller, J.D. ’72, a Democrat who represents parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
  • Jackie Speier ’72, a Democrat whose district stretches from San Francisco down the Peninsula to East Palo Alto.

She also met with Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, the House minority leader and former speaker.

Gina Banks, director of federal government relations for UC Davis, who arranged Katehi’s meetings, said the chancellor delivered a campus update to each member of Congress with whom she met.

The chancellor’s schedule also included a lunch meeting with Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA, formerly the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. NIFA works with scientists at universities and colleges across the country and around the world to find solutions to issues related to food, agriculture, the environment and communities.

Earlier in the week she attended meetings of the Association of American Universities and the University Research Association (she serves as a member of the latter association’s board of trustees).

Alumni reception at embassy

Then came the alumni reception, held at the embassy at the invitation of the Greek ambassador, Christos P. Panagopoulos. Katehi and her husband, Spyros Tseregounis, faculty coordinator for corporate relations in the Office of Research, and who is also a native of Greece, met privately with the ambassador before joining the reception.

The reception drew about 75 alumni and others, including students enrolled in the UC Washington Center; and five prospective students and their families.

Walter Robinson, executive director of Undergraduate Admissions, was there to meet the newly admitted freshmen. “The reception provides a wonderful opportunity for me, the chancellor, alumni and other UC Davis community members to personally celebrate their acceptance to our campus as well as their commitment to excellence,” Robinson said.

Charles Melton ’08, president of the D.C. alumni chapter, commenting after the reception, said the prospective students “were very pleased not only with the number of alumni who attended, but also being able to engage with them and current UC Davis students.

“And they had a great opportunity to directly interact with the chancellor and ask her questions about the campus.”

The alumni guests included Bret Hewitt ’76 and M.A. ’83, former chair of the UC Davis Foundation Board, and his wife, Deborah Pinkerton ’77, from Arlington, Va.; and Barbara Schneeman ’70, a member of the UC Davis nutrition faculty who became dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 1993 and served until 1998. Today, Schneeman is the director of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, part of the Food and Drug Administration. 

Melton, who works as the legislative and communications coordinator in the UC system’s Office of Federal Government Relations, said: “Tonight's event just further reinforces how proud all of us alumni are to be Aggies and how UC Davis has an substantial impact, even 3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C.”

The event and others like it stem from the chancellor’s desire to maximize her opportunities, when traveling, to meet with alumni, prospective students and parents.

“The Cal Aggie Alumni Association has the chapter and volunteer infrastructure to put together these kinds of programs, not just for the chancellor, but for the provost and our deans when they travel,” said Rich Engel, assistant vice chancellor, Alumni Relations, and executive director, CAAA.

“The UC Washington Center was booked for Tuesday night, so it was fortuitous to be able to use the embassy, which is just down the street.”

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