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John Dwyer, dean of University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, resigned Wednesday, acknowledging he had made a “serious error in judgment” by having a relationship with a student that triggered a sexual harassment investigation by campus administrators. The surprise resignation by Dwyer, who has spent 21 months as the law school’s dean, will take effect Jan. 1. In a statement to students, Dwyer maintained that the relationship with the student was a consensual one, but said he is resigning because the student made “an allegation of misconduct that violated the university’s sexual harassment policy.” “We had a single encounter two years ago that was consensual, but there is no allegation that any form of sexual intercourse had occurred,” Dwyer said in his statement. “Nonetheless, I acknowledge that this reflected a serious error in judgment on my part and was inappropriate. “My decision to step down as dean was a very difficult one, but after much deliberation and consultation I believe that I can no longer effectively lead the school.” UC-Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl is expected to appoint an interim dean while the school searches for a permanent replacement. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon as the campus was clearing out for a four-day holiday weekend. The exact nature of the allegations and the extent of the school’s investigation remained unclear. The university’s statement revealed that school officials launched a confidential investigation when the allegations were brought to their attention. Dwyer also resigned his faculty position, which he has held since 1984. Dwyer had also been director of Boalt’s Environmental Law Program. He graduated from the school in 1980. The school issued a brief statement about Dwyer’s impending departure, disclosing that Dwyer was the target of a sexual harassment investigation. “Although Dwyer maintains that his encounter with a law student, who has since graduated, was consensual, he has acknowledged that it represented a serious lapse in judgment,” said a statement from the campus press office. “Dwyer’s decision to resign from the UC-Berkeley faculty at this time is his own.” A few faculty members still on campus Wednesday afternoon said they were surprised and disappointed when they learned of Dwyer’s departure. “It’s extremely unfortunate,” said Jesse Choper, a Boalt Hall School of Law professor who had supported Dwyer’s appointment. “I don’t think anyone could have asked for more in terms of the success and effectiveness of his administration, and it’s unfortunate that Boalt will not have the benefit of that,” he said. Law professor Stephen Barnett said the hunt for a replacement will be a difficult one for the school. “It’s always traumatic to choose a new dean and against this backdrop one assumes it will be ever more so,” Barnett said. It’s unlikely, however, that those opinions are unanimous. Women and minority members of the faculty protested Dwyer’s appointment in 2000, charging that the longtime professor wasn’t committed to diversity and wouldn’t maintain the school’s commitment to affirmative action. In a letter to Berdahl, students and faculty protesting Dwyer’s appointment said they were “convinced that professor John Dwyer has not shown a commitment, concern or creativity � to Boalt Hall’s public mandate. We believe that he should not be selected as Boalt Hall’s new dean.” Nonetheless, for students on campus Wednesday, the resignation came as a surprise. “Now we have to deal with losing a dean,” said first-year student Rovianne Leigh. “I’m kind of angry as well as sad.” The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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