University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel Sacked by Board of Trustees

The University of Michigan board of trustees fired school president Mark Schlissel for cause following an investigation into his conduct, the board announced Saturday night.

The decision was made behind closed doors on Saturday morning, without a public vote.

Former UM president Mary Sue Coleman will return to campus as acting president, the board also announced. Coleman served as president from 2002 to 2014. While leading UM, she was known for the growth of the campus as buildings were renovated and new ones constructed.

“Although saddened by the circumstances, I am honored to be asked to serve the University of Michigan again,” Coleman said in a statement. “When I left the UM campus at the end of my presidency in 2014, I said that serving this great university was the most rewarding experience of my professional life. I am happy to serve again in this important interim role.”

The board had hired an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation into Schlissel’s actions, including whether he had violated the university’s policy on relations with supervisors, according to a statement posted on the website. university.

Regents said they received a complaint on December. 8, 2021, via an anonymous complaint, that Schlissel may have been involved in an inappropriate relationship with an employee.

“After an investigation, we have learned that Dr. Schlissel, over a period of several years, used his University email account to communicate with this subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University,” they said. the Regents said in a statement.

In a letter to Schlissel informing him of the dismissal, the board disclosed these emails, including:

  • On July 1, 2021, you exchanged emails with the subordinate using your University of Michigan email address. In this exchange, she declares that her “heart hurts” to which you answer “I know. Mine does too”. You declare that “it’s my fault” and that you “suffer too”. You end with ‘I still wish I was strong enough to find a way.’
  • On January 9, 2021, you responded to an email from the University of Michigan subordinate’s official email address. In her email, the subordinate had said “Oh yes!” In your reply, you wrote, “I love it when you say that.” You made a similar remark in an email dated April 25, 2020.
  • On September 1, 2021, you wrote to the subordinate’s official email address and called her “sexiest”.
  • On November 4, 2021, you emailed the subordinate regarding a Midhigan University basketball game you were scheduled to attend as part of your official duties as President. In that email, you expressed your disappointment at not sitting with the subordinate, stating “the only reason I agreed to go was to go with you. There is a conspiracy against me .”
  • On December 3, 2021, you responded to the subordinate regarding the Big Ten Championship “President’s Suite Briefing Information” stating that “You can give me a private briefing”.

The policy was put in place in July 2021 following revelations that former provost Martin Philbert had used his position to coerce women who worked for him into having sex.

The policy states that “a Supervisor may not, implicitly or explicitly, initiate or attempt to initiate an Intimate Relationship with a Supervise over whom he exercises supervisory authority.” The policy also indicates that relationships can develop in the workplace that are not due to coercion or abuse of power. In these cases, the policy says, they must be disclosed and a management plan must be put in place and monitored. Failure to report the relationship “is a serious offense and grounds for discipline, up to and including termination.”

Following:Tensions between UM regents, chairman Mark Schlissel may have reached a boiling point

Following:UM President Mark Schlissel to step down in 2023 due to split board

Following:Contract: Schlissel will receive his full salary for at least 2 years after his resignation in 2023

Schlissel’s contract contains what is commonly called a morality clause. It says: “Your conduct and behavior must at all times be consistent with the promotion of the dignity, reputation and academic excellence of the University.”

Like other presidents, Schlissel is a permanent faculty member as well as president. It is unclear whether his term will be revoked. His contract states: “In the event such termination of cause is not also cause under the tenure policies of the University, you shall have your rights as a tenured faculty member.”

His contract states that if he is terminated for cause, his contract is terminated.

Schlissel was hired in 2014. In 2018, the board extended his contract for five years.

However, in the fall of 2021, Schlissel announced that he would step down as chairman a year early, in 2023. While he said he was doing so in order to make a smooth leadership transition, this happened amid deep divisions within the board. on its performance.

The Free Press earlier reported that the council met with Schlissel in an outdoor meeting in the president’s backyard in the fall of 2020, where several regents raised concerns about his managing the university’s response to COVID-19, including a graduate strike. Organization and walkout of student residence staff, as well as communication and transparency issues between Schlissel and the council. Among other things, the board was unhappy that Schlissel had not met the staff of the student residence personally.

Some board members were unhappy in January 2020 with Schlissel’s handling of the case of Martin Philbert — who served as provost, the school’s top academic official — and the long history of Philbert’s sexual misconduct in college.

Tensions rose again in the summer of 2021, when news broke that the university’s new expansion project in downtown Detroit – the Detroit Center for Innovation, originally pitched to the regents – had died in the l ‘water. The board heard that Schlissel had kept them in the dark for months as he spoke with the university’s top donor about the troubled project.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, center, speaks during the Board of Regents meeting Thursday, June 15, 2017 at the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor.  The new Go Blue Guarantee, unveiled and approved by the board, will provide free tuition to select students in the state.

His revised contract called for him to become a special adviser to the university and receive his full presidential salary for at least two years after his announced resignation date of July 1, 2023. The university will also give him a fully equipped laboratory, 2 million dollars to start it up, an office and another $36,000 to cover expenses.

The details were spelled out in a contract signed by Schlissel and the UM board on September 23. The council held a public meeting that day, but made no mention of the contract or any negotiations. Everything happened behind closed doors. State law dictates that the council need not meet in public except during its official sessions. The university itself decides what is a formal session and what is not. Schlissel reached the deal with a board deeply divided over his performance over the past few months.

Schlissel has been praised for his work on college access for low-income students. It has implemented the Go Blue Guarantee, which covers full tuition for students whose families earn less than $65,000 per year.

David Jesse was a 2020-21 Spencer Education Reporting Fellow at Columbia University and the Education Writer Association’s 2018 Top Education Reporter. Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj. Subscribe to the Detroit Free Press.

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