UC Berkley, Davis Chancellors Resign Amid Public Safety Controversies

The chancellors faced scandals and investigations that caused many to criticize the institutions’ leadership.

Chancellors at two University of California campuses abruptly announced their resignations in the last week as frustrations at the schools mounted.

UC-Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi announced she was stepping down from her positon on Aug. 9 and UC-Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks made his resignation public Aug. 16.

The chancellors faced questions over their handling of controversies and attacks on their character as various scandals came to light, reports the Washington Post.

Katehi faced criticism after a 2011 student protest that ended when a campus police officer pepper sprayed dozens of students. That incident was recorded and spread widely over the internet. Then in April, it was revealed that Katehi had spent $175,000 for an online public relations company to improve the school’s image. Katehi is also under investigation for nepotism, retaliation and inappropriate travel expenses, although she said those accusations have been disproven by investigators.

Dirks was criticized for his school’s response to sexual harassment allegations against multiple faculty members that surfaced while he was chancellor. UC-Berkeley also faces increasing budget troubles, which add to the damning revelations that Dirks was under investigation for possible misuse of public funds for travel. Dirks was also criticized when a student newspaper reported the school had spent $9,000 to create an emergency exit near his office in case protests caused a security concern.

The two chancellors’ controversies put pressure on UC System President Janet Napolitano to reform the system’s image. Napolitano has said she will form a committee to search for replacement candidates at both schools.

Napolitano had criticized Katehi openly for exercising “poor judgment” and violating multiple school policies.

Katehi had been chancellor since 2009. Ralph J. Hexter will serve as an acting chancellor in the interim. Dirks, who will remain chancellor until the university finds a replacement, has been chancellor since 2013 and is likely to be the shortest serving chancellor at UC-Berkeley in more than 60 years.

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