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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 26 · Number 4 · Summer 2009


A remarkable era in UC Davis’ history comes to a close as Larry Vanderhoef ends a quarter-century of campus leadership, the last 15 years as chancellor.

UC Davis is a different place today than it was when Larry Vanderhoef, a plant biologist turned college administrator, arrived in 1984. In his 25 years of leadership — first as provost/executive vice chancellor and, since 1994, as chancellor — the campus has grown by nearly every measure: student population, faculty, rankings, facilities, research funding and stature.

Larry Vanderhoef

(Debbie Aldridge/UC Davis)

Vanderhoef made good on an inaugural promise to build a world-class performing arts center at UC Davis — just one of numerous state-of-the-art facilities constructed on his watch — and led the university itself to a more prominent place on the world stage.

Vanderhoef’s Aug. 17 departure from the chancellorship also marks a new chapter in his own extraordinary tale of personal transformation. The first in his family to complete high school, and one of the very few in his Wisconsin foundry town to make his way to college, he became one of the nation’s longest-serving university leaders.

Overcoming his Midwestern reserve, he became an outspoken advocate for access to higher education and an academic diplomat — working throughout his tenure to “build bridges” to schools in inner-city Sacramento as well as universities in countries such as Iran.

In leading UC Davis through state budget cuts, the aftermath of campus and national tragedies and other challenges, Vanderhoef developed a reputation for being a principled, approachable leader. He was willing to make tough decisions, and remained passionate about the university’s mission to make people’s lives better.

Vanderhoef will continue to contribute to UC Davis as chancellor emeritus and professor of plant biology. He plans to develop and teach a biology course for nonscience majors and continue his work at the national and international level, leading university accreditation reviews and promoting interactions in the Middle East and Far East. And he’s planning to write a book about

UC Davis’ past quarter-century, uniquely observed through his eyes as chancellor and provost.

Rosalie Vanderhoef: Arts Ambassador

The peopleóthatís what Rosalie Vanderhoef will miss most when she and her husband, Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, step down from their respective roles Aug. 17. More . . .

In May, regents selected Linda Katehi, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to succeed Vanderhoef as chancellor. With the leadership change, Vanderhoef says he sees even greater things ahead for the campus.

“Together, you and our next chancellor will take this wonderful university to its next level of accomplishment,” he told campus community members in his final state-of-the-campus address in February. “I’m happy to have been your partner along the way. As I said at my inauguration, and say again today, thank you so much for having me.”

As both he and the campus start a new chapter, we look back at his career and highlight some of his many contributions:

Looking back . . .

What Others Say . . .

Some ways UC Davis has changed . . .

Maril Revette Stratton is associate chancellor.