The University of Michigan Board of Regents fired president Mark Schlissel Saturday morning over an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate employee.
The Detroit Free Press reports Schlissel, whose relationship with the board had grown strained in recent years, was investigated after an anonymous complaint last month regarding the relationship.
Reporter David Jesse quotes from the board's statement on the matter, and its firing letter to Schlissel:
"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," the regents said in a release.
The letter to Schlissel quotes from several email exchanges, which appear to be of a romantic nature, including this:
"On July 1, 2021, you exchanged emails with the subordinate using your University of Michigan email. In this exchange, she states that her "heart hurts" to which you respond "i know. mine too." You state that "this is my fault" and that you are "in pain too." You finish with "I still wish I were strong enough to find a way."
On January 9, 2021, you responded to an email from the subordinate's official University of Michigan email address. In her email, the subordinate had said "Oh yes!" In your response you wrote: "Love it when you say that." You made a similar remark in an email dated April 25, 2020.
The employee is not identified.
The Regents' statement, as well as the full email and text communications (with redactions) referenced in the group's letter to Schlissel, are here.
It's unclear whether Schlissel's firing will void the generous severance agreement he made with the board when he agreed to make a gradual exit from his job sometime in 2023. That contract "called for him to become a special adviser to the university and draw his full presidential salary for at least two years following his announced resignation date of July 1, 2023. The university will also give him a fully equipped lab, $2 million to get it up and running, an office and $36,000 more to cover expenses."
His base salary was $927,000 a year.
Former president Mary Sue Coleman, who preceded Schlissel, will serve as interim president until a new candidate is hired.
The last time U-M's board regents canned a president was in 1863, when Henry Philip Tappan was dismissed due to "difficulties with the regents on matters both of policy and personality," according to the Bentley Historical Library on campus.