A former UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor who was forced out of that position after he sexually harassed an Assistant Vice Chancellor appears to have received a record number of golden parachutes. I say that because, as the Chronicle reported in April of 2015, Graham Fleming was really, effectively only demoted from that Chancellorship after the university's investigation into his sexual conduct. That is, because Fleming is also a tenured chemistry professor, he was given the opportunity to take a sabbatical and return to teaching. At the time, the paper wrote that his new position would give Fleming "considerably less money." That was not so, as now the Chronicle reports Fleming actually kept his original pay of nearly $350,000 for 11 months after the job switch.
That revelation follows word from this past March that Fleming had been collecting, after his reassignment or whatever, a $20,000 stipend for his work as an international ambassador for the school. The institution was even paying for his travel expenses to Europe and Asia. And then, as the Chronicle explained at the time, University of California President Janet Napolitano removed him from that position suddenly. It didn't seem like Napolitano was very happy Fleming held it in the first place: As the Daily Cal quoted a letter from her: “(At) a minimum, our employees are entitled to come to work without fear of sexual harassment or sexual violence... it is our collective responsibility to ensure that substantiated claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault are dealt with firmly, fairly and expeditiously and that appropriate sanctions are imposed that recognize the serious nature of these claims.”
Those substantiated sexual harassment claims date to 2012 when the victim, onetime Assistant Vice Chancellor Diane Leite, was herself fired from the university (by none other than Fleming!) for her affair with a younger male colleague. That university employee saw his salary double during the time of their relationship.
But everybody's hands are allegedly dirty in this one: After Leite was fired, she alleged that Fleming had — among other sexual advances— touched her breasts and said he wanted to "molest her." Fleming maintains that the two had a "close, mutually respectful and somewhat affectionate working relationship” that was "not at any time either sexual or romantic.” And the molestation remark? His spokesperson, Sam Singer, says it was a bad joke.
So, that all brings us to today and Fleming's current/former salary. Apparently, UC policy lets executives take a a year of “transition leave” instead of a sabbatical, for which they are it seems paid their previous salary. This came to light when Fleming halted that higher (by about $1,000) pay one whole month before he had to do so. Why? Perhaps because that was around the time he was removed from the international ambassador position, but it's unclear.
“No one should be rewarded for sexual harassment with a paid leave, let alone a highly paid leave," political science professor Wendy Brown tells the Chronicle. Joking darkly about the system's seeming lack of harsh punitive measures in cases of sexual harassment, Brown added that professors might say “If you need time for research and writing, you should sexually harass someone so you can be put on paid leave.”