U-M president fired over alleged 'inappropriate relationship' with employee

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 22:27:42-05

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted unanimously Saturday to fire President Mark Schlissel.

They cited an alleged inappropriate relationship between Schlissel and a subordinate employee.

Former university President Mary Sue Coleman is now the interim president until a replacement is hired.

"This culture of secrecy has been what has plagued the University of Michigan for years," employment attorney Jennifer Lord said.

She called out the university for how it's handled several scandals from former Provost Martin Philbert's alleged sexual misconduct, to the late Dr. Robert Anderson sex abuse case and now the firing of Schlissel.

Lord says the alleged affair and use of university email accounts for those personal matters were ill-advised.

However, she said it may have only warranted a suspension.

Lord opined that Schissel's alleged mishandling of Philbert's cases gave the university grounds to fire Schlissel back in 2018. Considering the accusation of Schissel's inappropriate relationship reportedly came to light Dec. 8, 2021, she questions why the board of regents held a vote on a Saturday and did not wait to involve the public.

Tony Paris, an attorney at Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, says while the alleged affair was consensual, it can be problematic involving someone in a position of power or influence if the relationship goes south.

"Specifically, (the supervisor) could be in charge of the subordinates pay, promotion, or benefits, or schedule or you name it. The employers are usually understandably a little wary or worried about that," Paris explained.

Jon Vaughn, a sex abuse survivor in the Anderson case, told 7 Action News, "(The firing) is another smoke screen by the puppet masters that are the board of regents at the University of Michigan."

He questions why now and believes there's way more to this. However, he said he feels it's "about time" Schissel got dismissed.

"Seven sexual based scandals that have come to light during his tenure," Vaughn said. "Absolutely this was necessary."

The university posted a number of links to documents and statements on the Schlissel firing. Those links can be found on the university's website.