The University of Michigan has fired its $927,000-a-year president after his emails revealed he was having an affair with a female subordinate.
Mark Schlissel, 64, was informed in a letter on Saturday that he was being fired from the role he has held since July 2014.
Schlissel – a married father of four – and his lover, who has not been identified, exchanged emails on their work email addresses which were ‘inconsistent with promoting the dignity and reputation of the university’, the regents of the university wrote. It is unclear how the affair came to the attention of college bosses.
The prestigious university is where the youngest daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama, Sasha, 20, is currently enrolled. Other notable alumni include playwright Arthur Miller, NFL player Tom Brady and Madonna.
Mark Schlissel, appointed as president of the University of Michigan in July 2014, was fired on Saturday after evidence emerged of his affair with a female subordinate
Schlissel is pictured with his wife Monica, a lawyer based in San Francisco. The pair have four children
Schlissel works from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus
In the emails, sent between September 2, 2019 to December 3, 2021, the pair discuss reading, recipes, travel and ordering takeout together.
The university said he had caused ‘harm to the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan’
Full of double entendres and longing, the emails show Schlissel lamenting that he is ‘lonely’ – his wife, Monica Schwebs, a 65-year-old environmental and energy law attorney, lives near San Francisco.
In September 2019, he sent her a link to a spoof New Yorker article entitled: ‘Sexual fantasies of every New Yorker’.
The article features joke ‘fantasies’, such as: ‘I find a lunch in Midtown that costs less than ten dollars. ‘Yes!’ I cry out. ‘Oh, God, yes!’ The cashier hands me a surprisingly substantial sandwich.’—Liz, works in Midtown.
At one point, in November 2019, Schlissel and his lover discuss trying to coordinate traveling together – but Schlissel warns her that ‘M will likely join me on the return from FLA to DTW (Detroit), but that’s it’.
At another, in September 2019, Schlissel sends her the schedule for his flight to India, and notes: ‘What if we miss our connection and get stuck in Paris…’
She replies: ‘I know a bistro…’
He responds: ‘I’m so there.’
Schlissel is seen in January 2018 accepting an award with his wife behind him (second left) and Jesse Jackson (second right)
They discuss recipes for a spinach and chermola pie, and knishes, and calzones.
In December 2020 he sends her a receipt for the takeout pizza he will pick up in Ann Arbor – home to the university – and writes: ‘To whet your appetite. And tell you what’s for dinner too.’
The pair exchanged Shakespeare’s sonnets and a New York Times article about relaxation.
In June 2021, Schlissel wrote: ‘Love can come at any time in life, and it’s beautiful and joyous when it does.’
In one email exchange on July 1, 2021, that was cited by the board, the employee said that her ‘heart hurts,’ and Schlissel replied: ‘i know. mine too.’
The email finished with him saying: ‘I still wish I were strong enough to find a way.’
The board wrote that Schlissel knew his relationship with an employee was forbidden.
‘Your conduct as summarized above is particularly egregious considering your knowledge of and involvement in addressing incidents of harassment by University of Michigan personnel, and your declared commitment to work to ‘free’ the University community of sexual harassment and other improper conduct.
‘There can be no question that you were acutely aware that any inappropriate conduct or communication between you and a subordinate would cause substantial harm to the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan.’