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UC Berkeley Chancellor Investigated for Misuse of Public Funds

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is under investigation for receiving free personal training from a campus fitness trainer and for alleged misuse of public funds for travel.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in a letter dated April 11 from the University of California’s chief operating officer, Rachael Nava, a whistleblower complaint alleged that Dirks had used public funds to pay for his wife, Janaki Bakhle — an associate history professor at UC Berkeley — to take a trip to India. The complaint also alleged that Dirks did not pay for use of the school’s Recreational Sports Facility and its professional services, which included free personal training from Devin Wicks.

Dirks reportedly said he would withhold comment on the allegations until the investigation was completed. However, the Times points out that Mike Weinberger, who served as director of the recreational facility until his retirement in February, told the publication that he approved the Dirks’ free personal training. He added that he did not believe the free training was in violation of university policy and pointed out that free tickets to football games and other sporting events are routinely given to supporters.

Further, the trip to India in January by Bakhle was reportedly paid for by the Berkeley Alumni Association, not public university dollars which come from taxpayer funds and donations. Weinberger told the Times that he approved Wicks’ request to use his personal vacation days for the trip.

The whistleblower investigation and allegations appear to be the result of growing pressure mounting against Dirks for dissatisfaction with his role.

In addition to facing criticism over his handling of a series of sexual abuse complaints on campus, this past April, he announced that Berkeley would be eliminating 500 jobs over the course of two years.

The move came just after a statewide policy to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over several years was announced.

The announcement of job cuts sparked protests one month later in May when the first layoff was announced.

Dirks does not appear to be heeding calls for his resignation.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

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