Berkeley Chancellor Faces Investigation

July 14, 2016

The chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, is under investigation following allegations he misused public funds and used a campus fitness trainer without paying, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks was named in a whistle-blower complaint saying that he did not pay to use the campus Recreational Sports Facility and its professional services, the Times reported, citing an April 11 letter from the University of California's chief operating officer that it obtained. Dirks also allegedly used public funds to pay for travel with a recreational sports employee on non-university-related business. The travel allegations involve a January trip to India taken by the chancellor's wife -- a Berkeley associate history professor -- and a fitness trainer. A source told the newspaper the Berkeley Alumni Association paid for the trip.

The former director of the sports facility approved the free personal training after Dirks approached a trainer in 2013. That former director, Mike Weinberger, who has since retired, said he suggested free sessions as a way to improve the recreational sports department's standing against the more well-known athletic department. He compared the free training to free football game tickets that are handed out to boosters.

Weinberger also said he was not aware of a policy issue. The April 11 letter said the allegations amounted to "improper governmental activities," the Times reported.

A trainer involved in both the alleged fitness sessions and the India trip, Devin Wicks, has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. A spokesman said Dirks would not comment until the investigation's conclusion.

The investigation comes after Dirks has faced criticism on a number of fronts. He has been under fire for his handling of sexual abuse complains and taken flak from faculty members who claim he did not consult them in planning to reorganize departments and close a $150 million budget deficit. Controversy has also surrounded Dirks for spending $700,000 to build a security fence around his residence, aiming to keep out student protestors.

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