Forum Held to Discuss Hiring of New Boalt Hall Dean

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The Boalt Hall School of Law faculty held a forum last night to discuss the nationwide search for the school's new dean.

The forum came in response to Dean John Dwyer's announcement of his resignation last week after allegations surfaced he sexually harassed a former Boalt Hall student.

A new interim dean will be appointed by the chancellor as early as Friday, according to Associate Dean Jan Vetter.

"We're going to be proactive and to be seeking ways to bring back the trust that was broken," said Boalt Hall professor Bob Berring, who some have said is a strong candidate for the open position.

The interim dean must be a Boalt Hall tenured faculty member. Most likely, the person who is selected for the temporary position would not become the new dean of Boalt Hall, Vetter said.

But while the law school prepares to invest its energy in a search for a new dean, the allegations of sexual harassment remain.

The incident with Dwyer occurred after a dinner celebrating the amount of money raised for the Berkeley Law Foundation, where alcohol was served, Vetter said.

Attorney Laura Stevens said after receiving a ride home from Dwyer, her client passed out on the bed in her apartment. She woke up with her pantyhose down, her skirt up to her waist and Dwyer's hand in her vagina, according to media reports.

But Dwyer has maintained the sexual encounter was consensual and merely inappropriate, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

Stevens said her client was asked to sign an agreement to "keep silent about (Dwyer's) conduct" by university officials. However, Gilmore said it was part of university procedure to negotiate a resolution agreeable to both sides.

While the incident happened two years ago, Stevens said her client and three female faculty members who knew of the incident were reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation. Her client filed the charge Oct. 11.

But last night, long-time members of the Boalt Hall faculty dismissed Stevens' claim.

"I can't believe this is true of any of my woman colleagues," said Boalt Hall professor Eleanor Swift. "One of our fundamental obligations is to give advice and support for our students."

The university is currently investigating whether campus proceedings regarding sexual harassment are satisfactory, Vetter said.

The new dean will be selected by three committees, one of which will consist entirely of students picked by the Boalt Hall Student Association.

These committees will make a recommendation to the chancellor. The new dean will assume duties July 1.

Dwyer will be gone from his office all week and will not teach the remainder of his three classes on property law this semester. Boalt Hall professor Michael Heyman will be assuming responsibility for his courses.


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