Search begins for campus vice chancellor for research

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The search committee for UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research released a call for nominations Aug. 3.

Graham Fleming resigned in April after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced. As a result, campus professor of astronomy Chris McKee served and will continue serving as interim vice chancellor for research until a permanent vice chancellor is found.

The position is responsible for leading campus research presence, attracting new research funding, and promoting collaboration between departments and with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Members of the committee declined to comment on the search beyond the released search description.

McKee said in an email that he believes the new vice chancellor should “be an outstanding researcher who has the respect of the faculty” and “open up new research opportunities.”

The position is available because of the resignation of Fleming, who served in the position from 2009 until April. Former assistant vice chancellor Diana Leite alleged that he had violated the university’s sexual harassment policy — with violations including inappropriate touching and emails. After an investigation, Fleming resigned.

A group of 40 female colleagues of Fleming sent a letter to UC President Janet Napolitano, asking for a review of the investigation and stating that the investigation might be seriously flawed.

“I’m sure that the office (of the President) did what they thought was what they legally needed to do,” said Teresa Head-Gordon, a professor in the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, who also signed the letter. “I was expressing support for Professor Fleming, who I think is a much better person, much better scientist and much better administrator, than these incidents suggested.”

After Fleming’s resignation, more than 100 faculty members signed a petition asking for the UC Office of the President to review the investigation and expressed hope that Fleming would reverse his resignation.

“I still wish Graham Fleming would be reinstated, but it is clear that is not going to happen,” said Brent Mishler, a campus professor of integrative biology, who contributed to the petition. “Realistically, I hope the new VCR will be like Dr. Fleming in being visionary and facilitating new research interactions on campus.”

Charles Marshall, a campus professor of paleontology and author of the petition, said that what makes Berkeley research achieve things no other institution is capable of is its creative collaboration.

“At the time of Fleming’s stepping down, I wondered whether the newly arrived chancellor and executive vice chancellor and provost understood this about Berkeley,” Marshall said. “But recent conversations indicate that they do.”

Interim vice chancellor McKee believes that the committee will appoint a new vice chancellor in the fall and that he or she will take over near the beginning of 2016.

The deadline to nominate candidates is Aug. 24, and nominations should be submitted to UC Berkeley’s internal search firm, Portico.

Contact Austin Weinstein at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @aweinstein5.