An outgoing chancellor and a budget deficit
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ days are numbered: He announced Tuesday that he intends to resign as soon as the campus selects his successor. Since taking over in 2013, Dirks has been surrounded by a string of controversies. Criticism largely has centered on the administration’s soft handling of several high-profile sexual harassment cases, its closed-off approach to tackling the campus’s $150 million structural deficit this year and construction of a $700,000 fence around Dirks’ University House on campus and an emergency exit for his office suite. He also is under investigation for an alleged misuse of funds.
— Suhauna Hussain
High-profile sexual harassment cases
Throughout the 2015-16 academic year at UC Berkeley, names such as Graham Fleming, Geoffrey Marcy, Sujit Choudhry and Yann Hufnagel dominated headlines in a less-than-flattering light. They were among 19 campus employees found to have violated UC sexual misconduct policy since 2011. And the campus was handling 17 sexual harassment investigations as of March. High-profile administrators accused of sexual harassment by lower-ranking campus employees included Fleming, the former vice chancellor for research, and Choudhry, the former UC Berkeley School of Law dean. Allegations also arose against Marcy, an astronomy professor accused of groping students, and against Hufnagel, a Cal men’s basketball assistant coach who allegedly sexually harassed a reporter.
— Andrea Platten
Tuition and fees
Two years ago, hundreds of students from across the UC system gathered to protest a proposed tuition hike. The UC Board of Regents, the university’s governing body, approved the hike, which would have raised tuition about 5 percent per year over five years. In the following months, however, UC President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated an agreement that froze in-state tuition for two years, in exchange for additional funding from the state. The end of that two-year period has nearly arrived: The agreement allows increases beginning in the 2017-18 academic year, which would be pegged to inflation and which the university said is important for long-term stability.
— Suhauna Hussain
The regents voted in November on a plan to significantly expand in-state student enrollment in light of political pressure to increase the UC system’s accessibility for California residents. In recent years, the university has received criticism for increasingly enrolling out-of-state students, a practice many believe crowds out Californians. A March state audit sharply criticized university standards for admitting out-of-state students, which the audit said had been relaxed, thus narrowing admission opportunities for in-state students. The university agreed to admit 5,000 more California students for fall 2016. The Berkeley campus itself is absorbing about 750 additional in-state students in accordance with the plan.
— Suhauna Hussain
City still reeling from balcony collapse
Five Irish citizens and one Berkeley resident were killed — and seven others injured — when the balcony of a Downtown apartment in the Library Gardens complex collapsed in June 2015. The balcony collapse forever is ingrained in Berkeley’s history, as the community still is grappling with the fallout. The incident brought about families’ lawsuits with construction companies, inspired city officials to take action and raised questions about building safety in the city as a whole. A bill prompted by the collapse and aiming to require building contractors to report felony convictions against them will advance to the state Assembly floor Friday.
— Brenna Smith