Campus news, People

Chancellor names interim lead for sexual harassment response

By Public Affairs


UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent this message today to the UC Berkeley community:

TO: Campus Community

I am writing to inform the Berkeley campus community that I have appointed Carla Hesse as the interim lead for our efforts to improve and enhance the university’s response to sexual harassment and assault. Hesse is the Dean of Social Sciences and Executive Dean of the College of Letters & Science. She has been a Berkeley faculty member in the history department since 1989.

Carla Hesse

Professor Carla Hesse

Hesse will serve as the primary coordinator of the campus efforts to address sexual harassment, assault and violence, working closely with the Chancellor and the UC Office of the President to ensure these efforts are prioritized, fully coordinated and adequately resourced. She has been appointed to this role effective immediately, until the position is filled permanently over the summer.

Dean Hesse’s responsibilities in this effort will include the expeditious resolution of all pending cases, as well as the following:

  • Establish and train a campus peer review panel for sexual harassment cases and define its roles and processes in conjunction with the offices and functions that investigate and recommend discipline processes.
  • Ensure resources are sufficient to reduce the time to complete investigations and for expeditious response to complaints referred to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) and to the offices responsible for discipline processes.
  • Establish protocols for regular tracking of the number and nature of reports received, the responses made, while analyzing trends.
  • Work with the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion, Na’ilah Nasir, on designing the best ways to support student groups and other academic communities with the aim of creating a campus culture where sexual harassment and assault are quickly abated and addressed.
  • Identify and work with other campus groups on climate issues related to sexual harassment, including the Academic Senate, undergraduate and graduate student organizations, and staff organizations.
  • Work closely with the Coordinated Community Review Team (CCRT) and the Diversity, Equity and Campus Climate Committee of the Academic Senate and form a short-term committee to ensure that Berkeley uses best practices around complaint processing, survivor support, investigation protocol, sanctions for violations, climate issues, outreach, and the mobilization of academic research in this domain.
  • Work with faculty constituencies to expand training and education beyond mandatory on-line courses and to organize events for early fall each year to bring attention to these issues across the full campus community, including faculty, students, and staff.
  • Oversee the preparation of regular reports to the campus on data concerning complaints of sexual harassment, assault, and violence.

Hesse is a prize-winning scholar with 20 years of experience teaching at Berkeley. After undergraduate studies at Laney College and UC Santa Cruz, she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. A specialist in modern European history and the history of women, she has also served as Chair of the Committee on Women and Minorities for the American Historical Association. She holds the Peder Sather Chair in the Department of History and was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.

When she accepted the appointment, Dean Hesse told me that, “This is an important responsibility and I hope to make quick and significant impact in a number of areas. We all need to step up and take on this critical issue for our campus and community.  I look forward to working closely with you and with the dedicated students, staff and faculty on our campus who work to prevent, report and support those who have suffered from any form of sexual harassment or violence.”

Tackling sexual harassment and violence on our campus is the most urgent challenge we face today, and Professor Hesse’s deep knowledge of and dedication to Berkeley will be of great assistance to the university and me. I am very pleased that Dean Hesse has agreed to inaugurate this role and take on this critical work immediately.

Nicholas Dirks