UC Berkeley provost resigns amid protests over harassment by staff members
The provost of the University of California at Berkeley has stepped down, citing his wife’s health issues, the school’s chancellor said on Friday.
Claude Steele’s resignation was announced in a posting on the university’s website, following revelations last week that a total of 19 staff members had violated its sexual misconduct policy.
Steele, 70, is the highest-ranking administrator at Berkeley to step down as the school deals with widespread criticism about the harassment disclosures. He has not been accused of such wrongdoing and the school made no mention of those issues in announcing his departure.
“Alas, my wife’s ongoing health challenges remain quite significant, and this is simply not a time in our lives where I can afford to further sacrifice our time together,” Steele said in his resignation letter shared by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in the post.
The health issues were not specified.
In his letter, Steele said that in addition to tending to his wife he would resume his career as a psychologist and writer and join the school’s Department of Psychology.
Sujit Choudhry, 46, resigned in March as dean of Berkeley’s law school after admitting to physical contact with his executive assistant, according to the school. Choudhry denied that the touching amounted to sexual harassment.
Last week an assistant men’s basketball coach stepped down after the university moved to dismiss him over accusations of sexual harassment against a news reporter.
The university last week also released records showing that 19 employees had been involved in such cases over the past five years, including 12 that had not previously been made public.
The newly reported cases, which date back to January 2011, were released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by local media outlets including the Bay Area News.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Richard Chang)