University of Michigan Fired Its President for Sexual Relationship with Employee

The Board of Regents of the University of Michigan has fired the university’s president, Dr. Mark Schlissel, for having an inappropriate relationship with an unnamed employee. In a three-page termination letter sent to Schillel, the board said the president’s termination was effective immediately, the New York Post reports.

The board then released 118 pages of email communications in which Schlissel used the university’s email system to send flirtatious messages and discussed travel plans with the subordinate. The regency board affirmed that using university resources to advance sexual interests was “inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the university.”

“These emails demonstrate that you were communicating with a subordinate through the University of Michigan email system using an inappropriate tone and inappropriate language,” the termination letter reads. “They also demonstrate that you were using official University of Michigan business as a means to pursue and carry out a personal relationship with a subordinate.”

Schlissel’s career with the University of Michigan was terminated on Saturday, cutting short his tenure, which would have ended in 2024. The erstwhile university president had announced in October 2021 that he would resign as president in June 2023 – a year earlier than planned – and he would continue working as president emeritus and special adviser.

Under that resignation plan, Schlissel would have continued earning his base salary of $927,000 for two years even though his contract would have ended in 2023. That contract is now terminated and the shamed university don ordered to return all university property in his possession. He had been president of UM since 2014.

“There can be no question that you were acutely aware that any inappropriate conduct or communication between you and a subordinate would cause substantial harm to the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan,” the Board of Regency stated in their letter to Schlissel.

A former president of the university, Mary Sue Coleman, has been appointed as an interim president by the board.

The board found Schlissel’s behavior particularly disturbing because he had been involved in prosecuting sexual harassment cases in the university. A professor of art and design, Rebekah Modrak, in September 2020 wrote to the university stating that they had not taken allegations of sexual impropriety against Schlissel seriously. She expressed relief following his sack during the weekend.

“For many of us and for me, the reaction was a huge relief,” Modrak said. “Because he has been such an arrogant leader and so dismissing of faculty concerns.”

Schlissel is married to Monica Shwebs, and they have four children.