Just as students pour back onto campus, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who recently had said he hoped to serve for another ten years, has announced he will resign, though not until the end of the year. He informed the UC President's office of his decision yesterday according to sources to the Chronicle. Dirks, 66, arrived in the Bay Area from Columbia University. He's served as Berkeley Chancellor for three years at an annual salary of $531,939, but lately has had a strained relationship with a campus experiencing a number of difficulties.
Most recently, last month Dirks was accused of misusing public funds for travel and for use of a campus trainer whom he did not pay. The chancellor denies that his actions were inappropriate and calls the trainer, who was subsequently placed on administrative leave, an old friend.
Then there was the $700,000 fence project to surround the chancellor's home, which was undertaken, as the Chronicle and others have implied, to keep away campus protesters.
Dirks also faced serious questions over the way he handled a series of sexual harassment allegations at Berkeley such as the cases of astronomer Geoff Marcy, Law School Dean Sujit Choudhry, assistant basketball coach Yann Hufnagel, and Vice Chancellor Graham Fleming. Dirks allowed Fleming continue in a role representing the campus despite the fact he had stepped down from his post for sexual harassment, angering UC system President Janet Napoletano and others.
Finally, Dirks inherited a number of financial woes it seems he wasn't able to solve quickly or satisfactorily enough. While he presided over a record year of fundraising — the school brought in nearly $480 million — Berkeley, like state schools around the country, operates at a large deficit. But even compared to other UC branches, Berkeley's deficit is considerably larger, a fact attributed to campus construction costs.
The news of Dirks' resignation follows a pattern. Last week UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi resigned her post as well. Katehi was suspended after it became known she had paid a private company to attempt to cleanse the internet of images of a meme-inspiring, Occupy-era pepper-spraying incident on campus, and a recent investigation focused on a series of raises she gave her daughter-in-law and son, who are employed by the campus. Napolitano, no fan of Katehi's, cited "numerous instances where Chancellor Katehi was not candid, either with me, the press, or the public, that she exercised poor judgment and violated multiple university policies.” Katehi will be able to stay on at the University as a faculty member. Dirks will also return to teaching.