IRVINE – The embattled chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, avoided a public rebuke from faculty Thursday as he apologized for withdrawing an offer to make a liberal legal scholar the founding dean of the university’s new law school. “I have learned a very painful lesson this week. I made a series of difficult decisions without consulting senior faculty early enough or often enough,” Chancellor Michael V. Drake said at the emergency meeting of the Academic Senate. “I’m sorry for this and I apologize sincerely for the problems that it caused.” Drake ignited a nationwide debate about academic freedom last week when he abruptly withdrew the offer from legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky. Chemerinsky, an international expert on constitutional law who represented exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame, said Drake told him the offer was being withdrawn because he was “too politically controversial.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The chancellor denied that he had been pressured to release Chemerinsky. He re-extended the offer – which Chemerinsky accepted – on Monday after a private weekend meeting. On Thursday, faculty met in a 400-seat lecture hall to decide whether to censure Drake for his actions, wavering between adopting two resolutions – one that some called a harsh censure, and another that was less critical of the chancellor. In the end, the 43-member voting body of the larger Academic Senate voted to table both resolutions for further study. The decision came after Drake reiterated that he had made both decisions on his own. He added that he had felt “uncertain” about Chemerinsky for the post of founding dean, despite his faith in the scholar’s impressive credentials. He did not offer any explanation of why that was, but said he now was reassured and felt Chemerinsky was the best choice.