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University of Michigan Board of Regents fires President Mark Schlissel, but he retains faculty appointments

University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Update: January 29, 2022 at 11:40 a.m.

Although former U of M President Mark Schlissel was fired from his role as university president, he retains his faculty appointments as a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and microbiology and immunology, with tenure, the university said in a statementthis week.

"Those departments are now in the process of officially absorbing him into the faculty and determining what his initial duties will be as he makes this transition. Microbiology and Immunology in the Medical School will be his home department for administrative purposes," the statement said.

The Detroit Free Press reportsSchlissel could be in a university classroom as soon as next fall.

Original post: January 15, 2022 at 7:17 p.m.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted Saturday morning to remove Mark Schlissel as president of the University of Michigan, effective immediately. The Board has named former U of M president Mary Sue Coleman as Interim President.

Detroit Free Press reporter David Jesse and Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou discuss Mark Schlissel's firing at U of M.

The vote comes after an investigation into whether Schlissel was having an inappropriate relationship with a university employee. The investigation revealed that over a period of years, Schlissel used his university email account to communicate with that subordinate "in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University." The Regents said members learned about the relationship from an anonymous complaint in December 2021.

The university released dozens of emails that illustrate the inappropriate conduct, as well as the letter sent to Schlissel explaining the Regents decision.

In the letter, the Regents wrote: "Paragraph I.B. of your Agreement clearly states that "(y)our conduct and comportment shall at all times be consistent with promoting the dignity, reputation and academic excellence of the [u]niversity."

The Regents say the facts uncovered in the investigation show Schlissel materially breached that obligation.

Former U of M president Mary Sue Coleman, in a written statement, said, "While saddened by the circumstances, I am honored to be asked to again serve the University of Michigan. When I left the [U of M] campus at the end of my presidency in 2014, I said serving this great university was the most rewarding experience of my professional life. I’m happy to serve again in this important interim role."

Schlissel became president of the university in 2014. He had planned to step down in 2023.

Further reading:

"[U of M] investigating whether Schlissel misused university funds in support of relationship" by David Jesse for The Detroit Free Press

"Expert: [U of M] presidential search could be hampered by Schlissel controversy" by David Jesse for The Detroit Free Press

Editor's note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.

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