Mark Rosenberg’s explanation for his abrupt resignation on Friday as president of Florida International University — he said he ‘‘caused discomfort for a valued colleague” and an “emotional (not physical) entanglement” — is disturbing and vague. It requires more explanation from him and from the FIU board.
While we initially wished him the best, this community deserves a full explanation for what happened at a publicly funded university. For his 12-year tenure to end this way is sad. It must also be investigated fully.
Rosenberg’s statement, released on Sunday was at turns, heart-wrenching, disconcerting and cryptic. It was an attempt to shape the narrative, but that must come from fact-finding. This must not and cannot be brushed aside.
Rosenberg cited the deteriorating condition of his wife, Rosalie, who, he says, has advanced dementia and whose condition has deteriorated. He said that it affected his mental health — for which, he said, he entered therapy — and consequently led to the incident with an FIU employee.
Among the questions the board must answer: When were university leaders informed of the incident? And what was the board’s initial response? We have seen many reported instances of an institution ignoring the “discomfort” of an employee, until the situation explodes into the public spotlight. Any indication that this isn’t an isolated incident must be followed up with rigor.
Now this community’s attention must turn to the well-being of that “valued colleague” and, as important, the valued institution itself. FIU is more than a community treasure. It is an academic and civic powerhouse in this community and in the state. About to observe its 50th anniversary, FIU, as the Herald recently reported, has more than 56,000 students, 270,000 alumni and schools of law, medicine, business, hospitality and engineering, among others. In addition, it has sports teams and 29 sororities and fraternities.
Rosenberg can take credit for his role in the school’s growth. However, that does not absolve the board of trustees from being forthcoming about Rosenberg’s actions — and its own.
Board chairman Dean Colson issued a statement on Sunday, expressing disappointment at “the events requiring [Rosenberg’s] resignation.” Then, later, “FIU is not going to comment further at this time.”
We will remind the board of its responsibility to this university and to the public that funds it. And “at this time” — and in the coming days — we expect meticulous transparency about this alarming incident and Rosenberg’s resignation. To allow it to remain cloaked in cryptic language is unacceptable.