ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan will keep the name of a prominent Michigan Republican on a campus building despite his description of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and two other Democrats as "witches."
President Mark Schlissel said he shares the disgust over Ron Weiser's "misogynistic and violent comments." But he also noted that Weiser "has done much good" and that the naming of a building was part of a donation agreement.
"It is important to all those who enter into agreements with the university that we maintain our reputation for honoring our contracts," Schlissel wrote in a Thursday letter to people who want Weiser Hall to be renamed.
"In addition, were we to decide to violate the contract and remove his name from a building, we would be obligated to return the associated gift," Schlissel said.
Weiser is chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, a philanthropist and an elected member of the university's governing board.
In March, he called Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson "witches" during a meeting of Republican activists. He said the GOP would prepare for a "burning at the stake" in the 2022 election.
Weiser later said his words were "poorly chosen." Democrats, who are a majority on the university's Board of Regents, issued a censure or formal statement of disapproval.
In his letter, Schlissel said peoples' lives are "complex and sometimes even contradictory."
Weiser and his family "have demonstrated extraordinary support for the academic mission of our university, including a broad array of initiatives ranging from research into democracy and diplomacy to food allergies, diabetes, and student support on all three U-M campuses," Schlissel wrote.