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There are no acknowledged front-runners to take the helm at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in the wake of Dean John Dwyer’s resignation, and the school said it plans to launch a nationwide search as quickly as possible. Administrators at the school, still reeling from Dwyer’s sudden departure last week, have begun scrambling to fill the void. Members of the faculty met Monday to discuss what steps to take in finding both an immediate replacement and a future, permanent successor. After the meeting, Associate Dean Jan Vetter said the school plans to name an interim dean next week and a search committee comprising faculty and students shortly thereafter. Vetter said there is no automatic successor for Dwyer’s post, and a far-reaching search will be launched. Dwyer, who became dean in 2000, resigned Wednesday amid sexual harassment charges by a former student. In a statement, he said he chose to step down because of “an allegation of misconduct that violated the university’s sexual harassment policy.” The charge, he wrote, was based on “a single encounter two years ago that was consensual, but there is no allegation that any form of sexual intercourse occurred.” The student’s lawyer, Berkeley solo Laura Stevens, issued a response Sunday that said Dwyer “grossly mischaracterized” the incident by calling it consensual. “The truth is that in December 2000, Dean Dwyer sexually assaulted the student in her apartment after she passed out following a night of drinking with the dean and four other students,” Stevens wrote. The charges filed by the student also call into question Boalt Hall’s compliance with sexual harassment laws. Stevens said the university has failed “to comply with federal and state laws designed to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault.” The California sex equity in education law says “each educational institution in the state of California shall have a written policy on sexual harassment.” The law also says that a copy of the school’s policy “shall be displayed in a prominent location.” According to Vetter, the law school does not have its own sexual harassment policy. “It’s not up to the school to have a sexual harassment policy,” he said. “[We] are governed by general campus policy.” Vetter said he did not know who was actually responsible at the university for proper compliance with state sexual harassment laws. “The most obvious candidate would be the dean,” he said. Stevens said Boalt has also violated discrimination laws included in Title IX and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Boalt Hall Professor Linda Hamilton Krieger, an employment law specialist who has been at the school since 1996, said sexual harassment information “is supposed to be part of orientation. As an employee, I’ve never received any training or been given any sexual harassment policy.” Krieger said she knows of no place where the school displays a sexual harassment policy. Vetter said the school does include a definition of sexual harassment for students, published at the end of a student planner and handed out at the beginning of every academic year. “I have every confidence that the Boalt Hall community will pull together and put this behind us and emerge stronger in our core values,” said Krieger. “All of my colleagues and I are committed to making that happen, including looking at changes to policy.” In addition to Dwyer’s unexpected departure and the policy challenges it presents, the new dean will also inherit budget problems and a pitched political battle over the school’s affirmative action policies with little time to prepare. “I think they are going to need to find someone with the stature and credibility to restore confidence,” said Rachel Moran, a Boalt professor who served on the last dean search committee. “There is no learning curve in the middle of the year. We need someone to go right in, take the mantle, and run with it.”

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