Berkeley Div. School hires interim dean

The Berkeley Divinity School announced yesterday that it hired the Rev. Frederick Borsch as its new interim dean following former Dean R. William Franklin’s Jan. 1 resignation amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

The announcement comes as Yale and Berkeley officials are on the verge of completing a reaffiliation agreement between the Yale Divinity School and Berkeley, which is an Episcopal seminary. The search for a permanent dean will now start.

Borsch, who is a trustee of Princeton University and a retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, said he intends to help Berkeley move past the controversy.

“I think it’s a great institution, and I look forward to working with them,” he said. “Places have problems, and I’ve been given absolute assurances that everything is in line now. My job is to help them go forward from that now.”

Borsch said he did not know the details of the allegations surrounding Berkeley.

The Hartford Courant reported in December that a Yale-initiated confidential audit showed that Franklin had improperly spent school money on his daughter’s Harvard Medical School tuition and other personal expenses.

Christian R. Sonne, who is the chairman of Berkeley’s board of trustees, told the Yale Daily News in late January that he had approved Franklin’s request for a $10,000 tuition payment and was unaware that such a payment violated University policy.

The University is now providing Berkeley Treasurer John Sargent with training in proper University accounting procedures, Yale Divinity School Dean Rebecca Chopp said.

In addition to taking University advice, Berkeley is conducting its own independent audit with Deloitte & Touche, which will issue an independent report in the next month on ways Berkeley can better conform to Yale regulations, Sonne said.

“Their report is coming very soon, and I’m sure it won’t be difficult to accomplish [the recommendations],” Sonne said.

Chopp said Yale and Berkeley are almost done drafting a new affiliation agreement and only need to work “a word here and there.”

“I don’t think at this point that we have any substantive differences,” Chopp said. “I think everyone is feeling positive about the plans for the affiliation agreement. I think Bishop Borsch and I will work closely to strengthen the ties between Yale and Berkeley and to help represent Yale in the Episcopal church.”

Borsch will assume his new duties March 1 and his contract expires at the end of December. He said the search for a permanent replacement will thus have to begin immediately.

Although Borsch has not yet contacted Franklin, he said he has met Franklin in the past and plans to talk with him.

“I had great respect for Bill, both as an educator and a person,” Borsch said. “I’ve put a phone call in.”

Borsch said his primary job during his short tenure at the school will be to ensure that the school maintains its strong academic reputation, but said he will also attend to the necessary administrative responsibilities.

“I want to try to make sure the students are getting the best education they can [and] that they’re not distracted by other things,” Borsch said. “I will want to work to strengthen the board and to help them with their fund raising and all the things an administrator has to do.”

While the Berkeley controversy has made national headlines and sparked an investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, applications to the Yale Divinity School are up this year. Students who attend Berkeley still apply to the Yale Divinity School.

Chopp said the school is expecting a 15 to 20 percent increase in overall applications.

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Bret Ladine
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