ANN ARBOR, MI University of Michigans Weiser Hall will continue to bear the name of Regent Ron Weiser despite his controversial comments about the states elected officials earlier this year.
UM President Mark Schlissels decision came in response to a petition filed by the faculty, staff and students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy to remove the name.
Schlissel wrote a letter to the departments faculty, staff and students on Thursday, June 3 stating he does not recommend changing the name, however.
He wrote the universitys updated naming policy intends for names to remain for the life of the facility, and while there could be circumstances where a donors actions could cause the university to revoke the gift agreement, I do not think the particular circumstances here reach that level.
Weiser was elected to the Board of Regents in 2016, two years after he and his wife, Eileen, had Weiser Hall renamed as part of a gift agreement. If the university were to violate the gift agreement and remove his name from a building, the university would be obligated to return the gift, Schlissel wrote.
The gift amounts to $25 million, and overall, the Weisers have committed more than $100 million to the university.
Having considered these factors and weighed the difficult questions they raise, I have determined that I will not recommend to the Regents that they violate the gift agreement and change the name of Weiser Hall, Schlissel wrote. I have opted to continue to build on the shared ground with Regent Weiser in support of core mission work of the university and will continue to assert university values when there is disagreement.
I appreciate that this decision may be disappointing, but I do believe it is the right one for the University.
When reached for comment, Board Chair Denise Illitch said board members previously voiced their thoughts and took action at the special meeting. Vice Chair Jordan Acker declined to comment, and regents Paul Brown and Sarah Hubbard did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Weiser also did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Weiser, chair of the Michigan GOP, came under fire in March 2021 when he made comments during an event for the North Oakland Republic Club calling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson the three witches and said the GOP needs to make sure they are ready for the burning at the stake. Weisers comments were captured in a video shared on social media.
Schlissel, Provost Susan Collins and several deans previously condemned Weisers comments, and while Schlissel said Weisers comments do not reflect the universitys values, he has done much good upholding democratic values as our nations ambassador to Slovakia and as a philanthropist, Schlissel wrote.
Weisers comments led to the UM Board of Regents calling a special session and passing a resolution condemning his language and calling on him to resign from the board. The resolution passed 5-0 with Weiser and Regent Sarah Hubbard abstaining, and Regent Katherine White absent from the meeting.
Before the vote, Weiser apologized for his words and took full responsibility for the comments, adding that he will not resign and will not be canceled.
A day later, UM community members including students, faculty and staff gathered in front of Weiser Hall to hold a mock renaming ceremony, calling the building the Weiser Center for Voter Suppression, Political Assassination and Witch Burning. The ceremony included yard signs covering the original building sign and spray-painted stencils with the new name.
University of Michigan community members hold mock renaming of Weiser Hall after regents controversial comments
This was not the first time this year that Weiser came under fire. After the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Weiser was quoted in a news article saying he didnt know if he blamed former President Donald Trump for the violence. He later told MLive/The Ann Arbor News that he spent most of the day in a dental chair having oral surgery.
A petition to remove Weiser after the Capitol riots was re-circulated when his comments about Whitmer, Nessel and Benson were reported and currently has more than 7,000 signatures.
Weisers term on the Board of Regents runs through 2025.
Nessel: Michigan GOP chairmans witches remark could have serious consequences
State lawmakers are latest to call on Ron Weiser to resign from University of Michigan Board of Regents
1,800 University of Michigan faculty members publicly condemn Ron Weisers comments
See the original post:
University of Michigan to retain name on Weiser Hall, president says - MLive.com
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