FIU president resigned after causing 'discomfort' for colleague

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 15: Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg talks t the media pair to introducing Butch Davis as the new head coach of the Golden Panthers on November 15, 2016 at FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joel Au

Amid questions about his abrupt resignation, longtime Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg acknowledged Sunday that his exit came after he caused "discomfort for a valued colleague."

Rosenberg said in a message Friday that he was "stepping back so that I may give full attention to recurring personal health issues and to the deteriorating health of my wife, Rosalie."

In a statement Sunday, he provided more details about those health issues but indicated that the sudden resignation stemmed from other reasons.

"Regrettably, these issues spilled over to my work and I caused discomfort for a valued colleague," the statement said. "I unintentionally created emotional (not physical) entanglement. I apologize to you. I take full responsibility and regret my actions.

"I took it upon myself to disclose through proper institutional channels to have others assess the circumstances. Then in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Trustees (FIU trustees Chairman Dean Colson), I realized that an immediate change would be healthy for all parties particularly given my evolving personal and family health requirements."

The statement did not provide more details about the discomfort that Rosenberg said he caused.

Colson on Sunday sent a note to the university community that said Rosenberg’s statement "provides greater insight into his resignation on Friday. It also provides insight into why the Board did not believe Friday was the appropriate time to celebrate the many accomplishments of FIU the past 13 years. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the events requiring his resignation."

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Rosenberg had led the university since 2009 and previously served as chancellor of the state university system. The FIU trustees on Friday appointed Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Jessell, who also serves as the university’s senior vice president for finance and administration, as interim president.

In his statement Sunday, Rosenberg, 72, called Jessell the "right person at this moment to help all of us sustain our forward movement and continue with the unprecedented success that marks our ascendance."

Rosenberg said in the statement that his wife of 47 years is a Type 1 diabetic who has been on insulin for 45 years, has advanced dementia and multiple sclerosis.

"I have been her nightly caregiver for over a decade," Rosenberg said in the statement. "But Rosalie’s condition entered a new stage in just the last few months, resulting in further cognitive debilitation. When I finally realized the impact that her condition had on my personal well-being in late October 2021, I sought professional mental health services and am still under a specialist’s care."

Rosenberg’s departure made FIU the fourth state university that is either searching for a permanent president or poised to launch a presidential search.

The University of North Florida and the University of South Florida are being led by interim presidents and are in the process of seeking new leaders. Also, University of Florida president Kent Fuchs announced this month he will step down at the end of 2022.