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The chancellor of the University of California, Davis, has been placed on leave amid an uproar stemming in part from the school’s hiring of consultants to improve its image, following a widely criticized protest pepper spraying incident by police.

UC President Janet Napolitano’s office announced Wednesday that she is appointing an outside investigator to determine whether the actions of Chancellor Linda Katehi have violated university policies. She has been at the post for nearly seven years.

“I am deeply disappointed to take this action,” said President Napolitano. “But Davis is a strong campus, nationally and internationally renowned in many academic disciplines.  I’m confident of the campus’s continued ability to thrive and serve California students and the Davis community.”

The 62-year-old Katehi came under fire early in her tenure at Davis when campus police officers used pepper spray on seated demonstrators during a November 2011 protest.

Calls for her resignation resurfaced after The Sacramento Bee reported in March that Katehi had accepted a seat on the board of a for-profit college company and earned more than $400,000 as a director for a textbook publisher.

Pursuant to an existing delegation of authority, UC Davis Provost Ralph Hexter will fill the chancellor role on an acting basis.

UC Student Association President Kevin Sabo released the following statement:

“The UC must do better by its students. Katehi collected a $425K salary while students on her campus skipped meals, lived in their cars, and sat on the floor in their classrooms. The UC has plenty of challenges – nefarious Chancellors should not be one of them. We applaud President Napolitano’s decisive action and commend her for standing with students.”