The University of Michigan Board of Regents announced the removal of Mark Schlissel as the university’s president on Saturday, Jan. 15, after a personal relationship with a university employee was revealed.
“On Dec. 8, 2021, via an anonymous complaint, we learned that Dr. Schlissel may have been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a University employee,” the U-M Board of Regents said in a written statement. “After an investigation, we learned that Dr. Schlissel, over a period of years, used his University email account to communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University.”
A letter to Schlissel from the Board of Regents was sent out on the same day as the announcement of his removal. In it, the Board disclosed the various instances in which Schlissel breached Paragraph I.B. of the Employment Agreement.
“On November 4, 2021, you emailed the subordinate with regard to a University of Michigan basketball game you were scheduled to attend as part of your official duties as President,” the Board of Regents said in a written statement. “In that email you expressed disappointment that you were potentially not sitting with the subordinate, stating ‘the only reason I agreed to go was to go with you. There is a conspiracy against me’.”
Reported last July, Schlissel himself had advocated for and introduced new workplace policies at U-M to specifically prevent inappropriate relationships between supervisors and subordinates.
The Board of Regents also released a series of emails and text communications between Schlissel and the subordinate, in the interest of full public disclosure.
One U-M student, junior Yekent Ly, expressed his disappointment and embarrassment with the situation.
“It was really embarrassing,” Ly said. “I got this email at work and it threw me for a loop. I was like, this is interesting because I remember a couple of weeks prior, I was reading an email about how he wanted to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace or something along the lines of that. I thought, ‘OK, cool,’ we’re making strides to be better, to just be a safer place in general, and then I read this. I honestly couldn’t believe it.”
Mary Sue Coleman, a former U-M president, will act as interim president until a new president is named.
“While saddened by the circumstances, I am honored to be asked to again serve the University of Michigan,” Coleman said in a written statement following the announcement of Schlissel’s removal.
“Each one of us, as members of the Board of Regents, aspire to create an environment where everyone in our community is able to thrive and achieve their best work, and where all feel safe and respected,” U-M’s Board of Regents said in a written statement.
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