Search begins for permanent lead on UC Berkeley sexual misconduct cases

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Phillip Downey/File

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Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced in a campuswide email Tuesday that the campus has begun searching for a permanent lead on campus sexual violence and sexual harassment cases.

The permanent lead will succeed Carla Hesse, who was appointed as the interim campus lead on sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, in April. The position for the lead on SVSH was created last spring as part of a series of campus reforms when several reports of sexual harassment arose among the campus faculty, including former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry and former campus vice chancellor for research Graham Fleming.

“The scope of the role has been expanded and further defined as we continue to strengthen our efforts to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment (SVSH) and gender discrimination on our campus,” Dirks wrote in his email, adding that the position is a three-year half-time appointment for a permanent faculty member.

According to the announcement, the permanent campus SVSH lead will be named Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence and Campus Title IX Coordinator, and it will provide overarching management of the campus’s SVSH prevention programs. The lead will also raise awareness about SVSH on campus and ensure Title IX intercollegiate athletics compliance.

“We believe that this newly-defined position will greatly assist us in our efforts to provide a safe and welcoming working, learning and living environment for our campus community,” Dirks wrote in his email.

Programs such as the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination — UC Berkeley’s Title IX office — and PATH to Care Center will still oversee day-to-day sexual misconduct prevention and response efforts, according to the email.

A call for nominations for the position will be sent out to the campus community within the next few weeks. Hesse said she expected that the hiring committee would work “very expeditiously” and the permanent lead on SVSH would likely be chosen around the beginning of the spring 2017 semester.

Hesse will officially step down from her position as interim lead when the new lead assumes the role, but she will remain on the campus faculty as the dean of social sciences and the executive dean of the College of Letters and Sciences.

“I like to think that we’ve accomplished a lot since April, and I think that will become even clearer with the new (lead),” Hesse said. “I hope that whoever succeeds me will continue to advocate for even greater progress.”

Contact Chantelle Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.