Mark S. Schlissel named 14th president of the University of Michigan


With a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, Dr. Mark S. Schlissel on Friday was appointed the 14th president of the University of Michigan. The vote took place during a special meeting of the board at the Michigan Union.

Schlissel, currently serving as provost of Brown University, will succeed Mary Sue Coleman July 1, 2014. Coleman is retiring after 12 years leading U-M.

“This is an exciting time for the University of Michigan,” said Andrea Fischer Newman, chair of the Board of Regents.  “Mark Schlissel brings an exceptional portfolio of scholarship and leadership, and just as importantly a tremendous commitment to Michigan’s public ethos.  I am confident Mark will lead the university into its next century focused on our deepest ideals of world-class academic excellence and public impact.”

Schlissel, 56, is a nationally recognized biomedical researcher who has risen through the ranks of academic and administrative positions in higher education. Before being named provost at Brown in 2011, Schlissel was University of California, Berkeley’s Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters & Science and held the C.H. Li Chair in Biochemistry.

“It is a tremendous honor to be entrusted with the presidency of one of the nation’s great public universities,” Schlissel said following the vote by the regents. “I will bring to Michigan a fierce commitment to the importance of public research universities, a strong and personal belief in the ability of education to transform lives, and the understanding that excellence and diversity are inextricably linked.”

Mark S. Schlissel will become the 14th president of the university on July 1. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

“I am enormously excited about Mark Schlissel becoming the next president of the University of Michigan. He brings great intellect, academic achievement, proven leadership skills, integrity, commitment to our public mission and values, decency and good humor to his new responsibilities. We were privileged to have a pool of extraordinary candidates. Mark was simply the ‘best of the best.’ I look forward to our future,” said Regent Laurence B. Deitch, who coordinated the presidential search process.

“In addition to being a thoughtful leader having extraordinary experience in higher education at the highest levels, President-Elect Schlissel is an outstanding listener.  He has demonstrated that he listens and solicits input from the campus community including fostering a diverse and inclusive campus environment,” said Regent Katherine E. White, who coordinated the town hall and outreach sessions on all three U-M campuses as part of the presidential search process.

​Schlissel and his wife, Monica Schwebs, at Friday’s special Board of Regents meeting, which draw a packed audience of media and campus leaders to the Michigan Union’s Kuenzel Room. (Photos by Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)

Schlissel’s five-year term as president will begin July 1. He will receive a base salary of $750,000 subject to annual increase at the Board of Regents’ discretion, and a retention incentive of $100,000 a year, vesting at the end of the term. He also will receive regular university benefits and a $20,000-a-year supplemental contribution to a retirement plan, housing in the President’s House, an expense allowance, use of an automobile and driver, all in accordance with university policies.

A graduate of Princeton University (A.B., summa cum laude, Biochemical Sciences), Schlissel earned both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He did his residency in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. His research program has focused on the developmental biology of the immune system.

As a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, he earned awards for his research and teaching. At Berkeley, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in immunology as well as the gateway course in biology required of all life science majors. In addition, he has mentored more than 20 successful Ph.D. candidates who did their dissertation research in a lab at either Hopkins or Berkeley.

Schlissel noted the synergy between research and an excellent educational environment.

“Students get to learn from faculty who are defining the leading edge of human knowledge and curiosity; and the imagination and energy of our students contribute to the research enterprise,” he said.

“The university’s nearly 200-year history, its great faculty and steady stream of gifted students, and its strong culture of interdisciplinary collaboration allow it to tackle the toughest long-term problems for the public good.”

Schlissel will take over the helm of the $4 billion “Victors for Michigan” fundraising campaign launched last year.  The campaign is the largest ever in the university’s history and its highest priority is to raise funds for student support.

“I promise to do my best to live up to the university’s highest ideals. I will work to enhance access and affordability, to promote academic excellence, and to support research and teaching of the highest impact and greatest value to society,” Schlissel said.

Schlissel is flanked by Regents Andrew Richner, left, and Laurence Deitch as he speaks during a news conference following the announcement. (Photo by Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)

Schlissel will take the helm at a university that:

• Has 19 schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus serving 28,000 undergraduates and 15,000 graduate and professional school students.

• Has two regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint, extending the university’s reach through the state.

• Is ranked No. 1 in research spending among public universities at $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2012.

• Has 99 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report.

• Is on the verge of celebrating its bicentennial in 2017.

• Was honored in 2012 with a Simon Award for its commitment to outstanding and innovative global engagement.

Schlissel, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been married for 29 years to Monica Schwebs, an environmental lawyer. They have four grown children.
Special U-M Board of Regents meeting to approve the appointment of Mark S. Schlissel as the university’s 14th president.

Press conference following Schlissel’s appointment.



  1. J D
    on January 24, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Not much in terms of advancing diversity…are the Regents really “hearing us”?

    • A Z
      on January 24, 2014 at 11:08 am


  2. M WT
    on January 24, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Yes, he’s a white man – but at least he’s an academic and not a businessman!

    • J D
      on January 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Actually- I was not necessarily referring to new President’s race… His background does not indicate that he has any experience working with under represented students and giving them a voice.

    • J D
      on January 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Actually- I was not necessarily referring to new President’s race… His background does not indicate that he has any experience working with under represented students and giving them a voice.

  3. Taylor Manett
    on January 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I think he sounds like a great guy! As a Cellular and Molecular biology major, I hope that one day I will be able to meet him and discuss the medical research career path.

    • Paul Deford
      on January 24, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      I agree with you Taylor, I am looking for the same career path and would love to talk to him about potential possibilities! I think the intricate complexity of the immune system to be amazing.

  4. D G
    on January 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Hmmm…I thought the goal was to NOT judge people (any people) on their race, color, gender, etc… Isn’t even in office yet and is being judged. Where does the problem really lie?

  5. Locke Demosthenes
    on January 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    D G, As soon as there is evident equality in the system (all groups represented reflective of population) we can tackle nobody judging anybody based on race, gender, etc., but until then we have to be biased in favor of the underrepresented or this real problem will remain the status quo.

  6. Don Onimo
    on January 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Though we had hoped for a minority candidate, it’s good to keep an open mind and receive him wholeheartedly. Seems to have excellent credentials. Time will tell his commitment to diversity and U-M ideals.

  7. Ned DeGalan
    on January 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Welcome aboard Mark! I have to trust our Regents and search team to bring us the best qualified candidate regardless of race, gender or creed. After all we are the Leaders and Best. Go Blue!

  8. clark w
    on January 24, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Wish he wore Michigan colors… Navy suit and maize tie. Go Blue!

  9. David W
    on May 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Most of you seem to wear your biases on your sleeve. Let’s try to move beyond the scorekeeping and look at individual potential and achievement.

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