University president fired for inappropriate relationship gets nearly $1 million severance

Ex-University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel apologized for “poor judgment.”

Published: May 13, 2022 1:38pm

Updated: May 15, 2022 10:55pm

(The Center Square) -

It started with the University of Michigan firing former president Mark Schlissel for a years-long relationship with a subordinate coworker deemed inappropriate. It ended with Schlissel receiving about $1 million in payouts.

UM granted Schlissel one year of leave starting May 1, 2022, with a salary of $463,000.

Schlissel, whose base pay was $927,000 before he was fired in January, emailed a subordinate a New Yorker article titled “Sexual Fantasies of Everyday New Yorkers.” In a Dec. 3. 2021 email, he told a subordinate, “You can give me a private briefing."

A settlement obtained by the Detroit News says Schlissel can return with full tenure and a $185,000-per-year salary.

The settlement includes:

  • UM will immediately vest contributions made in 2020 and 2021, totaling $300,000 to Schlissel's pension.UM will pay another $162,000 into Schlissel's 403(b) retirement plan within 15 days of the signed settlement.
  • UM will waive the length of service requirement for post-retirement health insurance, so he’s eligible for a similar plan for retirees.
  • Schlissel will keep his UM-issued iPhone and iPad until he leaves the school's employment.The university has paid his moving costs from the president's mansion.

In an April 6 letter, Schlissel apologized for “poor judgment.”

"The relationship was entirely consensual, was never physical, and did not involve the inappropriate spending of university resources," Schlissel wrote to the Board. "But in a time when we have been trying to strengthen the bonds of trust at the university, it is particularly important that campus leaders avoid even an appearance of impropriety. I am also sorry for any disruption this has caused to the conduct of U-M’s important mission."

UM had offered Schlissel a $10 million contract before he was fired. It’s unclear what services demand a salary exceeding the president of the United States, especially when taxpayers give billions to higher education despite fewer people going to college.

In fiscal year 2019-20, Michigan paid $2.1 billion, or 4% of the $58.5 billion budget to higher education and community colleges.

The perks Schlissel lost include:

The title of president emeritus upon his retirement.A $927,000 annual salary plus a $5,000 per-month housing stipend.A sabbatical of up to 18 months at his $927,000 salary.$2 million start-up fund for a research lab and an annual salary of at least $463,500 as long as he was teaching.Two $300,000 pension payments to be made in 2023 and 2024.$36,000 a year the university was planning to give him through at least July 1, 2030, a personal assistant's salary and free campus parking.

Schlissel planned to leave in 2023.

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