University of Michigan fires president, citing inappropriate relationship

Carlos Osorio
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The University of Michigan's board fired its president Saturday, citing an investigation into an inappropriate relationship with an employee and releasing communications sent from his university email.

The Board of Regents terminated President Mark Schlissel after the school investigated an anonymous complaint that was made last month. Schlissel used his email account to communicate with a subordinate "in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University," the board said.

"Your conduct as summarized above is particularly egregious considering your knowledge of and involvement in addressing incidents of harassment by University of Michigan personnel, and your declared commitment to work to 'free' the University community of sexual harassment or other improper conduct," the board said in its dismissal letter, which was addressed to Schlissel.

The board named a former university president, Mary Sue Coleman, to replace Schlissel temporarily until a proper search for a new leader can take place. Schlissel did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Sunday.

Along with its announcement, the board published 118 pages of email communications between Schlissel and the unidentified employee dating as far back as September 2019.

In a 2019 email, Schlissel emailed his subordinate a copy of an article in The New Yorker titled "Sexual Fantasies of Everyday New Yorkers."

"Just for fun," he wrote in the email.

In another email, dated December 2020, Schlissel forwarded the employee a receipt for an online food order. He wrote, "to whet your appetite and tell you what's for dinner too."

The board pointed to an email exchange in July in which the employee wrote that her "heart hurts." Schlissel initially responded "mine too" but later sent another message apologizing.

"I should have left it with 'I’m sorry,' since this is my fault and although I am in pain as well, it’s not the same at all," he wrote. "I still wish I were strong enough to find a way."

Schlissel announced in October that he would step down in June 2023, before the end of his contract, but he signed a deal with the board that he would still be paid his salary of $927,000 for two years after his resignation, The Michigan Daily, a student publication, reported.

Now that Schlissel has been terminated for a breach of his contract, specifically a clause in which he agreed to promote the dignity and reputation of the university, he is no longer entitled to his salary, The Daily reported Saturday.

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