UC Berkeley provost resigns; critics say he mishandled sexual harassment claim

UC Berkeley's Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost handed in his resignation on Friday, saying his wife's poor health, prevented him from continuing his duties as one of Cal's top administrators, according to a statement emailed to the campus by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

In the statement, Dirks praised Claude Steele for his work on African American diversity, fundraising, and budget reform.

However, some students and critics have been calling for Steele's resignation for months and say Steele was an administrator who did not take a sexual harassment claim on campus seriously enough.

Critics say Steele mishandled the sexual harassment claim by Tyann Sorrell, who said she'd been kissed and fondled by her boss the former Dean of Berkeley Law school Sujit Choudhry.

Sorrell's attorney John Winer says Steele was charged with disciplining Choudhry and should have been fired for only giving Choudhry a pay cut and ordering an apology.

"His discipline of cutting the salary for one year by 10 percent, which was really the only discipline, was outrageous. Choudhry should have been fired," said Winer.

Some Cal students say their school needs to do a better job of addressing sexual harassment cases.

"The school has not dealt with any of the sexual harassment suits well, at least in my opinion," said Cameron Baker, a UC Berkeley graduate student. "There's no major consequences, I feel like, for people especially up high in administration or faculty members if they've been accused legitimately."

University officials say Steele's resignation was not related to the Berkeley Law harassment case.  Dirks stated that they will announce an interim Vice-Chancellor soon to replace Steele, who will remain at Cal as a faculty member in the Psychology Department.