Berkeley Chancellor resigns amid charges of wasteful spending

The Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley submitted his resignation Tuesday evening amid allegations that he mishandled multiple sexual harassment cases as well as the school’s budget.

UC System President Janet Napolitano accepted his resignation late Tuesday, issuing a brief statement to express her “deep appreciation for Chancellor Dirks’ efforts on behalf of this great institution, its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the larger Berkeley community.”

Dirks’ rocky three-year tenure with the prestigious institution, which paid him $532,000 per year, has been marred by a string of sexual harassment mishaps, according to The Guardian.

In one instance, The New York Times reports that Dirks’ gave the dean of Berkeley’s law school a slap on the wrist after an investigation revealed that he had forcefully kissed and touched a subordinate, imposing only a temporary pay cut and mandatory counseling.

More recently, Dirks’ has been hounded for his use of the university’s budget to build a $700,000 fence around his home and a $9,000 emergency escape door in his office, which the university indicated was inspired in part by the potential need to escape student protesters.

[RELATED: UC Berkeley ensures chancellor can escape student protesters]

In another instance, The Los Angeles Times reports that a university whistleblower exposed Dirks last month for using public funds for personal travel and employing the services of a campus fitness trainer without payment.

The San Francisco Chronicle adds that there were even rumors within the Academic Senate of a no-confidence vote, which Dirks managed to prevent after he assured the Senate that he had taken some of its advice.

But now Dirks’ has said he will step down as soon as a replacement is found and join Berkeley’s faculty as a full-time professor.

“Over the summer I have come to the personal decision that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us,” he wrote in a statement announcing his resignation. “I look forward to joining on a full-time basis the distinguished faculty that was my primary reason for moving to Berkeley in the first place.”

Despite public criticism, Dirks did manage to squeeze some accomplishments into his sign-off, touting his record-setting fundraising numbers over the past two years, which came to $462 million and $479 million, respectively.

“While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions ahead of us,” he concludes. “We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.”

Dirks’ announcement comes just one week after UC-Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi resigned amid an ethics violation probe, leaving Napolitano with two vacant positions to fill.

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