After being removed from his term as University of Michigan President earlier this month, documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press reveal that Mark Schlissel could be returning to campus this fall as a tenured professor.
Despite being terminated by the Board of Regents as president, Schlissel is entitled to his faculty tenure position under his initial contract with the University, according to an email from U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald to The Michigan Daily. Schlissel currently retains appointments in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts as well as the Medical School.
“Those departments are now in the process of officially absorbing him into the faculty and determining what his initial duties will be as he makes this transition, which was the commitment they made in 2014,” Fitzgerald wrote. “There are a number of details that remain to be determined.”
Fitzgerald wrote retaining tenure was a normal process for faculty members returning from administrative work.
According to The Press, Schlissel was offered a salary of $185,000 dollars. It is still unknown whether or not Schlissel has accepted this agreement.
In early January, Schlissel was fired from his position as president after an anonymous complaint in December 2021 led to an internal investigation, which revealed that he had been engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a University subordinate. This investigation is ongoing, as the University’s Board of Regents is currently investigating if Schlissel obtained University funds to engage in this relationship, Regent Sarah Hubbard, R-Lansing, confirmed in an interview with The Daily last week.
Hubbard said the Regents expect to know the results of the investigation relatively soon and will proceed accordingly.
‘We certainly don’t expect this to be something that takes six months to a year, it’s something I would hope to get some feedback on, you know, in (the coming) weeks,” Hubbard said. “I don’t have a specific end date, and until we know what they find, we won’t know what to do with the information.”
Hubbard said initial results of the investigation – which revealed over 118 pages of email and text correspondence between Schlissel and his subordinate – led the regents to a unanimous decision to terminate.
“Once the board saw the nature of the emails, we all had a lot of concerns about the nature of the relationship, particularly given the policy that was put in place last summer related to the supervisory relationship,” Hubbard said.
Ultimately, this termination did not revoke Schlissel’s tenure faculty appointment.
The obtained documents require Schlissel to teach one class a year if conducting research, and two classes per year if not. Additionally, Schlissel would not begin instruction until the 2022-2023 school year. Prior to teaching, he will need to conduct research and obtain grants. In addition to teaching, he will be relied on to serve on faculty committees and mentor students.
Bethany Moore, chair of Microbiology and Immunology at the University, wrote in the letter obtained by The Press that Schlissel must adhere to the conditions outlined in the letter.
“Your appointment will be on a twelve-month basis with major effort to be determined by discussion with the chair and followed up in writing,” Moore wrote. “Established research-active faculty in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology are expected to support a minimum of 50% of their academic salary on research grants.”
Schlissel previously served as Dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California-Berkeley from 2008 until his appointment as Provost at Brown University in 2011. He received an M.D. and a Ph.D. from John Hopkins and is a certified immunologist.
Schlissel’s previous contract entitled him a professorship at the University with a base salary no less than 50% of his ending presidential salary of $927,000. The University also would have provided Schlissel with $2 million to start a lab. Following his termination, this contract was voided.