Tuesday marked the third anniversary of Mark Schlissel’s appointment as president of the University of Michigan by the Board of Regents in 2014. Schlissel officially took the position five months later in July.
Before coming to the University, Schlissel served as Provost of Brown University.
Two of the most prominent issues Schlissel has routinely worked to address throughout his tenure include sexual assault on campus and improving diversity.
Schlissel held the first meeting of all factions of Greek life in September of 2015 to address the issues within the system and parties associated with it. The party culture, Schlissel said, devalues education for all members of the University and its alumni base. Additionally, he proposed ways to curb alcohol abuse and prevent sexual assault.
The University took measures in the 2015-16 school year to curb alcohol abuse in particular, which administrators link to higher rates of sexual assault in the Greek community, causing many Greek life members to react negatively.
“Parties at frats and sororities send the wrong message that the University of Michigan is a party school and not a serious research university,” he said in a 2015 presentation to the Detroit Economic Club.
During an ethics lecture in 2015, Schlissel referenced two recent campus-wide surveys revealing 11.4 percent of students and 22.5 percent of undergraduate women at the University reported having experienced some sort of non-consensual sexual behavior at the University.
“If you feel threatened by sexual misconduct, you’re not going to be able to learn,” he said in the lecture. “We won’t have an adequate learning environment for our children.”
Schlissel also spearheaded the release of a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan last October — the initiative aims to improve the campus community through a series of measures centered around diversity such as campus climate-related training, increasing community outreach, the creation of the new Trotter Multicultural Center as well as a number of college-specific plans within the University. The University will commit $85 million over the next five years to fund the efforts in addition to the current annual fund of $40 million a year.
The plan also outlines strategies to provide more financial support to departments that conduct research on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion and the expansion of the inclusive teaching professional development programs.
“The campus-wide plan is a set of actions for today,” Schlissel said at the plan’s introduction in October. “We cannot live up to our full potential as a university unless everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute and to benefit.”
Schlissel has also focused his tenure on bringing the University in line with new technology and issues relevant to the country at large with programs including Academic Innovation, environment and sustainability and the new Poverty Solutions initiative — an initiative unveiled in October 2016 totaling $200,000 to invest research about poverty and to aid low-income communities — during his time as president.
In 2015, Schlissel announced the University’s new investment in biosciences — including the creation of the position of vice provost for biological sciences — and has expanded sustainability on campus.
“The goal of this initiative is to make the U of M a powerhouse in the biosciences and a global leader in discovery and societal impact,” Schlissel said.
Another important pillar during Schlissel’s term has been his stewardship to the University’s two satellite campuses in Flint and Dearborn. Schlissel has increased communication between the schools with a new position in his office to improve his communication with the two campuses, which “serve a broad range of stakeholders and provide a wealth of benefits to people, communities and businesses in the state of Michigan.”
Through the course of his tenure, Schlissel has earned two three-percent salary bonuses, approved by the board, totaling $795,675 a year.