Growing up on the Salamis Islands in Greece, Linda Katehi’s life was changed forever when she watched the 1969 Apollo moon landing from her neighbor’s television set.
Witnessing mankind’s exploration of a new frontier inspired Katehi to be an engineer. Through her own perseverance and perpetual encouragement from her mother, Katehi’s pursuit of education took her from the small Greek island to the National Technical University of Athens and then to University of California, Los Angeles, making her the first woman from her hometown to receive a college education.
Initially uninterested in teaching, Katehi’s love of educational exploration and freedom enticed her to pursue a career in academia. After earning her doctorate, she served at several universities throughout the U.S.—as a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, a dean of engineering, and provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs. In 2009, she became the first woman to be Chancellor of UC Davis.
“I am proud to say I was one of those who needed college to become someone,” Katehi said. “It is where we can dream unbelievable dreams, grow our wings and fly to the heavens.”
Along with spearheading the public phase of The Campaign for UC Davis, Chancellor Katehi and her husband, Spyros Tseregounis, personally gave to the UC Davis Foundation Matching Fund for Student Support. Their gift, when combined with gifts from other the UC Davis Foundation current and emeriti trustees, helped create a $1 million matching fund. From this matching fund, an additional $3 million was raised for student scholarships, fellowships and awards in just two months.
The couple said they hope their gift will help more deserving students find the same freedom and inspiration that Chancellor Katehi found through her pursuit of and career in higher education.
“I needed my college education to discover how to walk toward what was possible in life,” Katehi said. “We need many more students with the skills and experience from a college education who can graduate and put those skills to good use for themselves, their families and their communities.”