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UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks improperly accepted free fitness benefits, university probe finds

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks improperly accepted free university benefits, including membership to the campus fitness center, two years of personal training sessions and the unauthorized transfer of exercise equipment from the public gym to his private residence, a university investigation has found.

Overall, Dirks failed to pay for $4,990 in fees for the gym membership and personal training and enjoyed the private use of a Precor Cross Trainer elliptical exercise machine worth between $3,500 and $4,000, according to findings of the heavily redacted report released Friday.

UC ethics rules bar employees from the unauthorized use of campus resources or facilities or the “entanglement” of private interests with UC obligations. The investigation, performed for the UC Office of the President by an outside firm, Public Interest Investigations Inc., concluded that Dirks violated those rules and concluded that the allegations against him by an unnamed whistleblower were founded.

Dirks, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said Dirks apologized and repaid the money owed even before the investigation was completed in September.

Allegations about the chancellor's fitness benefits were widely circulated on campus last summer and further fueled dissatisfaction with his leadership. Dirks already was under fire over his handling of sexual misconduct cases, faculty relations and budget problems. He announced his resignation in August and will step down June 30.

Carol T. Christ, currently UC Berkeley's interim executive vice chancellor and provost, will succeed Dirks beginning July 1. 

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