University of Michigan president fired over inappropriate relationship with employee

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File: University of Michigan  former president Mark Schlissel speaks during a ceremony (AP)
File: University of Michigan former president Mark Schlissel speaks during a ceremony (AP)

The president of the University of Michigan was removed from his post for allegedly being in an "inappropriate relationship with a university employee."

The university’s Board of Regents announced Mark Schlissel’s removal "effective immediately" in a statement on Saturday.

The board learnt about his alleged relationship through an anonymous complaint filed on 8 December and after investigating it was found that Mr Schlissel used his university email account to "communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the university".

In their letter to Mr Schlissel informing him about his removal, the board wrote: "As you know, the Regents received an anonymous complaint regarding an alleged sexual affair between you and a subordinate".

The university released 180 pages of redacted email correspondence between Mr Schlissel and the other employee that appears to have started in 2019 and went on till 2021.

The employee wrote in a 1 July 2021 exchange that her "heart hurts", to which Mr Schlissel responded: "I know. mine too".

He added, "this is my fault" and that he was "in pain too".

The board, in their letter, added that on 1 September 2021, the former president wrote to the subordinate's official varsity email address and referred to her as "sexier".

"These emails demonstrate that you were communicating with the subordinate through the University of Michigan email system using an inappropriate tone and inappropriate language," the letter stated.

The university introduced its supervisor-employee relationships policy last year to overhaul its approach to addressing sexual misconduct.

The board found his conduct “particularly egregious” considering his “knowledge and involvement in addressing incidents of harassment by university personnel”.

Mr Schlissel had a base salary of $927,000 a year and had announced last October that he would step down in June 2023.

Former president Mary Sue Coleman was appointed as the interim president.

Mr Schlissel's removal and Ms Coleman's appointment will be affirmed during the board's formal session on 17 February.

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