Florida International University president abruptly resigns, says he 'caused discomfort' for colleague

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Mark B. Rosenberg (Pedro Portal / Miami Herald via AP) (Pedro Portal)

The former president of Florida International University who abruptly resigned last week added a cryptic explanation Sunday, apologizing for having "caused discomfort for a valued colleague."

The former president, Mark Rosenberg, 72, stunned the Miami campus late Friday afternoon, announcing his sudden departure from a position he had held for 13 years, citing the need to care for his ailing wife.

Then, on Sunday, Rosenberg issued another statement, offering more details about his wife's condition and an apology for a vague "emotional (not physical) entanglement" he had created.

His wife of 47 years has Type 1 diabetes and advanced dementia and uses a wheelchair full time, Rosenberg said. He said the burden has taken a toll on his mental well-being and prompted him to seek counseling.

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

Neither Rosenberg nor a representative for FIU immediately responded to requests for comment Monday.

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Dean Colson, the chairman of the FIU Board of Trustees, who shared Rosenberg's statement Sunday, cited "privacy considerations" in declining to explain the vague words.

He insisted, however, that Rosenberg's statement Sunday "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," Colson wrote. "We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the events requiring his resignation."

He defended the school's "personnel and workplace conduct policies."

"Due to employee privacy considerations, FIU is not going to comment further at this time," Colson said. "FIU has strong personnel and workplace conduct policies, takes all workplace conduct seriously, and remains committed to enforcing its policies thoroughly and swiftly."

Scott Edward Atwood, the chairman of the Florida Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Section, said Colson’s carefully selected words show that the university was dealing with a delicate workplace incident.

“Whether that includes inappropriate behavior with a co-worker remains to be seen,” Atwood said Monday.