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Is Mark Schlissel married? UMich president fired after emails suggest office affair

The university released a trove of emails between him and the woman he had an affair with, who happened to be his subordinate
Mark Schlissel, 64, drew a whopping $927,000-a-year salary as President of Michigan University (University of Michigan)
Mark Schlissel, 64, drew a whopping $927,000-a-year salary as President of Michigan University (University of Michigan)

The University of Michigan fired its president for having an extramarital affair with a subordinate just a year after he implemented sexual misconduct policies to stop those in power from sleeping with their staff.

Mark Schlissel, 64, used to draw a whopping $927,000-a-year salary for the role he had held since July 2014. He was informed in a letter on Saturday, January 15, that he was being fired. Meanwhile, the university also released a trove of emails between him and the woman he had an affair with. While the staffer's identity has been redacted in the exchanges, the school reportedly found out about their affair through an anonymous tip in December. The news has sparked an interest in his personal life and relationships.


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The emails date all the way back to 2019 when he had sent the woman an article about the sexual habits of New Yorkers. Their correspondence lasted all the way through December 3, 2021, five days before he was exposed. In the emails, Schlissel is seen using pick-up lines such as "Can I lure you to visit with the promise of a knish?" aside from screenshots of pizza receipts which he said were to "whet your appetite. And tell you what's for dinner too." The UMich president asked the woman to accompany him on business trips on the school's expenses, reportedly charging $2,000 first-class Delta flights to the university and booking luxury hotels across the country. 

Is Mark Schlissel married?

Schlissel is a married father of four. His wife, Monica Schwebs, 65, is an environmental and energy law attorney who lives near San Francisco. The disgraced university official and his lover exchanged emails on their work email addresses which, according to regents of the university, were "inconsistent with promoting the dignity and reputation of the university." Ironically, in July 2021, the former university president had himself introduced rules banning sexual relationships between supervisors and subordinates. 

Students walk across the University of Michigan campus on January 17, 2003, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

The emails sent between September 2019 to December 2021 show Schlissel and his girlfriend discussing reading, recipes, travel, as well as ordering takeout together. The microbiology and immunology professor also laments that he's "lonely" despite being a married father of four. In September 2019, Schlissel sent her a link to a parody New Yorker cover titled 'Sexual Fantasies of Everyday New Yorkers' — indicating in the subject box it was an "article you couldn’t download."

In November 2019, Schlissel and his girlfriend discussed trying to coordinate traveling together, but he warned her that his wife "M" would "likely join me on the return from FLA to DTW (Detroit), but that's it." In another email, he sent her the schedule for his flight to India. "What if we miss our connection and get stuck in Paris..." he wrote. She responded, "I know a bistro..." He replied, "I'm so there." 

In December 2020, Schlissel sent his lover a receipt for the takeout pizza he will pick up in Ann Arbor. "To whet your appetite. And tell you what's for dinner too," he wrote. In July 2021, Schlissel wrote, "Love can come at any time in life, and it's beautiful and joyous when it does." In another email from July 2021, the employee said her "heart hurts" and Schlissel replied, "I know. Mine too," adding, "I still wish I were strong enough to find a way."

General view of the entrance to Michigan Stadium prior to the game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Houston Cougars on September 6, 2003, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated Houston 50-3. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images)

Schlissel knew his relationship with a staff member was forbidden, the university board noted in a statement. "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," the statement read. "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."

Notably, Schlissel led a university-wide effort last year to curb sexual misconduct. He declared at a July 2021 meeting that there would be a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone trying to "solicit a personal or romantic relationship with someone they have a supervisory authority or career influence over."