The moment former University President Mark Schlissel was removed from his position, students were quick to celebrate, staging an impromptu gathering outside the presidential residence on South University Avenue.
Since Schlissel’s termination was conducted without a public audience, many students found out he was coming back as a professor through articles and on social media. Nursing sophomore Grace Fisher said she was completely shocked hearing the news of Schlissel’s return.
“I was shocked that the University would put themselves in a position like that,” Fisher said. “They’re making themselves look foolish by allowing (Schlissel) to come back, despite them completely embarrassing him by posting his emails for everyone to see.”
With news of Schlissel’s return as tenured faculty, some students were upset to see the former President return to a professor position.
LSA freshman Brooke Woodrum said she was confused by Schlissel’s reinstatement as a tenured faculty member, especially given how fast Schlissel was fired.
“It just seemed like the whole thing had blown over and suddenly didn’t matter as much, so hearing that he was coming back made me think that the situation wasn’t being taken as seriously as we all believed it to be,” Woodrum said.
LSA freshman Andrew van Baal said it was extremely disheartening to hear about Schlissel’s return especially, as it reflects a lack of emphasis on sexual misconduct at the University.
“I, along with many other students that I spoke to about this, do not feel comfortable with (Schlissel’s) return,” van Baal said. “I feel that it is a slap in the face to the U-M community and the global reputation of the University to allow a disgraced individual to return and continue to reap benefits.”
Fisher also said she was shocked Schlissel was allowed to teach after having an affair with a subordinate and his response to survivors of late University doctor Robert Anderson.
“Now that he finally got fired, I don’t think a lot of people will be comfortable with him coming back,” Fisher said. “I think it really just makes a mockery of the University.”
When asked what the University should do alternatively, van Baal said that all contracts associated with Schlissel and the University should be terminated.
“The original interpretation of the initial press release of his firing made it seem like all U-M ties to Schlissel were cut,” van Baal said. “But this new information has emerged, making it clear that he is still affiliated with the University. The only suitable course of action to repair our currently damaged reputation would be to cut these remaining ties.”
Fisher said the University should remove Schlissel from his tenured professorship for the sake of its own reputation and for the safety and well-being of the students.
“The University talks about campus safety and our new president just sent out that email about instilling good values, but now they’re offering him the position,” Fisher said. “Aren’t you putting students right back into the position of being in a vulnerable spot with this guy who was terminated from the University?”
Woodrum said that the University’s next steps should include finding another qualified scholar to fill the tenured faculty position.
“Definitely, just keep him out of any sort of administrative role,” Woodrum said. “His violation of his presidency contract was severe, and all of us, as a student body, thought his termination would be the last we heard from him. I think there’s plenty of other qualified people that they could interview to fulfill that role, it shouldn’t be him.”
Daily Staff Reporter Sejal Patil can be reached at email@example.com.
Correction: a previous version of this article referred to sexual misconduct allegations against former U-M President Mark Schlissel. University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen clarified that Schlissel was fired because he violated Paragraph I.B. of his employment agreement: “your conduct and comportment shall at all times be consistent with promoting the dignity, reputation and academic excellence of the University.”