U-M dismisses David Daniels from SMTD faculty


David Daniels has been dismissed from his role as professor of voice in the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance, effective immediately.

The dismissal was approved March 26 by the Board of Regents.

Daniels was placed on an administrative leave in August 2018 and ordered not to have any contact with students following public allegations of sexual misconduct.

“When a tenured faculty member is accused of misconduct, it is a matter the Board of Regents takes very seriously,” said Regent Ron Weiser, chair of the Board of Regents.

“The institution of tenure is sacrosanct within any university. It is rare for the board to vote to dismiss a tenured faculty member from the university. This is the first time under the current Bylaw 5.09, enacted more than 60 years ago, that the board has been faced with voting to dismiss a tenured member of the faculty,” Weiser said.

“Because of the strength of the protections of tenure, we have strict bylaws dictating procedures that must be followed if the misconduct is sufficiently serious as to warrant the removal of tenure from the faculty member.

“At the heart of every decision of the board is the safety and well-being of our students, and the integrity of the instruction to which our students are entitled. When the board sees this jeopardized by a tenured member of the faculty, we believe it is necessary to take the extreme action of dismissal,” Weiser concluded.

President Mark Schlissel made the recommendation for dismissal to the Board of Regents.

“I have determined that Professor Daniels’ conduct is inconsistent with the character of tenure at the University of Michigan and therefore constitutes cause for dismissal under Bylaw 5.09-1,” Schlissel said in his recommendation.

Schlissel and the regents were presented with the full record in the matter of the recommended dismissal for Daniels, which included reports from the two committees that heard the evidence in the matter, including live witness testimony and documents that were relevant to the matter.

Prior to the regents’ vote, three speakers spoke in Daniels’ favor. They spoke over a public-comments call-in line because the regents conducted a virtual meeting due to ongoing COVID-19 prevention measures.

Dismissal of tenured faculty is outlined in two Regents’ Bylaws — 5.09, which describes procedures in cases of dismissal, demotion or terminal appointment, and 5.10, which covers severance pay. 

The dismissal represents the first time in the history of the university that a tenured faculty member has been dismissed under the current Regents Bylaw 5.09, which was adopted in 1959.

Schlissel recommended that Daniels not be eligible for severance pay under Regents Bylaw 5.10 and the board agreed.

The bylaws were the subject of a recent faculty group report that recommended a more streamlined process. Those recommendations are now under consideration.


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