University of California, Berkeley, chancellor says he will resign

August 16, 2016 10:07 PM EDT

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks of the University of California, Berkeley, addresses students during commencement in Berkeley, California May 16, 2015. REUTERS/Noah Berger

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BERKELEY, Calif. (Reuters) - The chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley said on Tuesday he is resigning, telling faculty and students it was time for someone else to tackle the financial shortfall that has beset the highly-ranked research university.

In his letter posted on the university's website, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks also cited the "institutional challenges" that the Northern California campus faces.

Dirks has encountered steady criticism from professors at UC Berkeley over his handling of the budget deficit and sexual harassment cases involving high-profile faculty members, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

Dirks, who took over as chancellor in 2013, previously told the Chronicle he hoped to remain in his position for 10 years.

But in the letter released on Tuesday, Dirks said he would step down once a successor is selected and in place.

"I pledge my total commitment to ensuring a smooth transition as I leave this post," wrote Dirks, a historian, adding that he planned to stay on as a faculty member.

University of California President Janet Napolitano has accepted Dirks' resignation, she confirmed in a statement.

UC Berkeley is ranked the top public university in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

(Corrects paragraph 5 to remove incorrect date)

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in Berkeley, Calif.; Editing by Diane Craft and Clarence Fernandez)

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