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Former University of Iowa leader steps in as Michigan fires president
Mary Sue Coleman picked as interim after scandal
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mark Schlissel has been removed as president of the University of Michigan due to an alleged "inappropriate relationship with a university employee," the school said late Saturday, and will be temporarily replaced by a former University of Iowa president.
The removal was effective "immediately," the University of Michigan Board of Regents said, adding that members learned on Dec. 8, 2021, about the relationship from an anonymous complaint and that an investigation revealed that "over the years," Schlissel used his university email account to "communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the university."
"As you know, the Regents received an anonymous complaint regarding an alleged sexual affair between you and a subordinate," the board wrote in its letter to Schlissel informing him of his removal. "An investigation has revealed that your interactions with the subordinate were inconsistent with promoting the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan."
The Associated Press sent an email Saturday night to Schlissel's university email to seek his comment, but it was not clear if he had access to the inbox anymore.
Former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has been appointed interim president. Schlissel's removal and Coleman's appointment will be affirmed during the board's Feb. 17 formal session.
Coleman was the first female president of three so far at the UI, serving from 1995 to 2002. She served a Michigan’s president from 2002 to 2014; and was named president of the Association of American Universities from 2016 until 2020
Michigan board’s letter to Schlissel included excerpts of emails exchanged between him and the employee.
The employee wrote in a July 1, 2021, exchange that her "heart hurts," to which said Schlissel responded: "I know. mine too." He continued: "This is my fault" and that he was "in pain too."
The board also wrote that on Jan. 9, 2021, the subordinate employee said, "Oh yes!" in an email to Schlissel. His response was "love it when you say that."
Copies of emails with the recipient's name redacted were included in Saturday's announcement on the school's website. One dated Jan. 12 was about an August 2019 article from The New Yorker titled "Sexual Fantasies of Everyday New Yorkers."
Schlissel had a base salary of $927,000 a year. He announced last October that he would step down in June 2023, a year before his contract was to expire.
Schlissel succeeded Coleman as president in January 2014. He had been provost at Brown University.