Higher Ground

My American Dreams and Nightmares in the Hidden Halls of Academia

An emotionally devastating window into the hidden world of academia—at once an intimate personal history, a high-tension workplace drama, and an unforgettable spiritual journey.

When Linda Katehi was six years old, growing up in war-ravaged Greece, she turned to her mother and said, “I do not want to be poor!” Her mother replied: “Then go to school and be a good student. This is the only thing that can save you.”

She relentlessly pursued the dream that was born that day, overcoming sexism and xenophobia to graduate college as one of two women in her class and become a respected innovator in the male-dominated field of engineering. It was an American Dream.

As an administrator, she was driven by a visionary plan to share her dream by expanding the reach of universities both locally and globally—adding new interdisciplinary research areas and opening the doors to more foreign-born students to make higher education a global beacon of education.

The backlash from those who feared change was familiar and vitriolic. It turned her dream into a nightmare that only ended when she let go of what she thought she wanted most, to lead change in higher education.

ISBN: 978-1-68401-723-2
SKU: 18-403-01
Categories:Amplify Publishing, Memoirs and Biographies, Memoirs and Biographies

“This is an inspiring but also alarming memoir by one of America’s foremost female engineers and academic leaders. Professor Katehi’s story illustrates the incredible challenges that even the most accomplished, decent women continue to face in academia, especially as they climb the administrative ladder. At the same time, her story is heartwarming in the way that it illustrates the importance of a close, loving family (plus one’s own special archangel).”—Robert Birgeneau, chancellor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

Higher Ground is a breathtaking memoir by a woman engineer who, despite her gender and unlikely origins, rose to the top of academia in the United States only to be undermined by political infighting. Only now are we beginning to hear from the first wave of women to reach the highest levels of education. This magnificent book sets a high standard for the many other sobering stories that are likely to follow.”—Nancy Hopkins,groundbreaking cancer researcher and Amgen Professor of Biology Emerita at MIT

 “Powerful and evocative. A dramatic narrative of a life of struggle, success, downfall, and victory. Gripping writing marks moments of tenderness, loss, doubt, and wisdom—revealing the creative force of a fierce intellect that will not be stopped. In Higher Ground, Linda Katehi delivers a sweeping story, almost classic in its tragedies and epiphanies.”—Suad Joseph, distinguished research professor, University of California, Davis

"The first female chancellor emerita of the University of California, Davis, Katehi exposes the cutthroat world of higher academia in this gripping memoir...This is an exceptional addition to the emerging stories of women breaking barriers in their professions."—Booklist and Blue Ink (starred)

"Linda Katehi is is a natural storyteller—she seamlessly combines astute intellectual analysis with delicate emotional exploration."Kirkus Reviews

"Written by a woman who was challenged by prejudices in academia but often triumphed over them, the inspiring memoir Higher Ground celebrates personal resilience and grand achievements."—Foreword Reviews

Linda Katehi

Former University Chancellor


Linda Katehi is a highly regarded leader in the field of engineering and a Chancellor Emerita of the University of California, Davis—the first woman to hold that position.

She has also served as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Provost and the Dean of Engineering at Purdue University. In a distinguished forty-year academic career, she has received numerous awards, including the Simon Ramo Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering for her extraordinary impact on the engineering profession, the American Hellenic Council Aristeio Award in Academics, and a Gabby Award for achievements in education. She is an elected member of many US and international academies, and she holds 19 patents.

She now serves as the O’Donnell Chair in Engineering and is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, and her work focuses on the design and development of intelligence sensors.

She lives with her husband, Spyros Tseregounis, in The Woodlands, Texas. They have two children and three grandchildren.