UC Berkeley faculty members signed and sent a letter addressed to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on Thursday urging him to review investigations into allegations of sexual harassment faced by former vice chancellor of research Graham Fleming, who announced his resignation April 8.
Signed by more than 100 faculty members in two days, the letter expressed concerns regarding whether due process was followed in the investigation conducted by the UC Office of the President, or UCOP. The letter also praised Fleming for his work as vice chancellor of research and expressed the hope that he would reverse his resignation.
Last year, UCOP began investigating a complaint filed by Diane Leite, former assistant vice chancellor for research enterprise services, which alleged that Fleming had violated university anti-sexual harassment policies by inappropriately touching Leite and sending her affectionate emails.
Fleming denied the allegations and resigned under protest, according to a press release from public relations consultant Sam Singer, who works with Fleming’s lawyer. In his resignation letter addressed to Dirks, Fleming said that UCOP’s investigation violated his right to due process and produced a report that was “biased and unjust.”
According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, Fleming was given a chance to respond to reports about him before they were finalized. UCOP considered his response but ultimately did not alter the findings of the report, and it was in that context that Dirks accepted Fleming’s resignation, Mogulof said.
The university has also said previously that it properly followed its normal processes when investigating the allegations.
Fleming’s legal counsel presented evidence to UCOP to demonstrate that the report’s findings were not supported, and it unsuccessfully sought retraction of the investigation report, according to the press release.
According to Singer, Fleming was “very heartened and honored” by the responses from his colleagues. Fleming could not be reached for comment.
Singer said he hopes that the letter will encourage Dirks and the university to address concerns about transparency and whether due process was followed, possibly by reopening the case.
UC Berkeley integrative biology professor Brent Mishler, who signed and helped write the letter, said he was “concerned and shocked that it happened so fast.”
“We don’t understand what the rush was all about,” Mishler said. “The situation with Graham Fleming is another reason why we need to be transparent and clear on this campus about what’s going on and why.”
Charles Marshall, the main author of the letter, could not be reached for comment.
Chris McKee, a UC Berkeley professor of physics and astronomy, will serve as the interim vice chancellor for research, pending approval. Fleming plans to return to teach in the department of chemistry after his resignation, which was effective Monday.
Staff writer Robert Tooke contributed to this report.