MIAMI – An investigator reported the former president of Florida International University admitted to asking a woman under his direct supervision if “companionship was of interest” to her in October, but she said that what he actually asked was if she wanted to become his “lover.”
She said he later started to call her a “princess” and the situation escalated to her crying about her work environment.
The woman told investigators her boss insisted on meeting her at a hotel in Las Vegas, commenting on her clothing and asking if she had dressed nicely for him. She also reported that during a dinner in November, he told her he was “in love” with her and “wanted to marry her” and take care of her “financially and professionally.”
On Tuesday, despite this and other situations the woman described, the FIU independent investigator concluded there was no evidence of sexual harassment while acknowledging the boundary breaches included a “substantial disparity in age” and an “obvious power dynamic.”
Mark B. Rosenberg announced his resignation on Jan. 21. In his resignation letter, he attributed his decision to “recurring personal health issues and to the deteriorating health” of his wife. He later released a statement saying he had “unintentionally created emotional (not physical) entanglement” with an FIU staffer as his wife was suffering from dementia and diabetes.
Rosenberg, 72, got married in 1974 and he started teaching political science at FIU in 1976. After working for the state, he returned to FIU. He started his service as the university’s fifth president in 2009. His resignation was after the public research university hired a law firm to look into the woman’s allegations.
Attorney Eric D. Isicoff, who has a commercial litigation practice in Miami, handled FIU’s internal probe. The woman met Rosenberg while she was a student at FIU and started working in his office in 2019, and as part of her job, she often went to dinners and games with Rosenberg, according to the report.
The woman told Isicoff the relationship started to become uncomfortable in May when the president allegedly said her boyfriend was not “good enough.” She told Isicoff, “he would not have lunch without her and started hugging her ... followed her ... took pictures of her,” sent her romantic songs, and behaved like he “was offering to find her an apartment in Coral Gables and pay for it,” according to Isicoff’s report.
Isicoff reported he found the woman to be “credible” and reviewed all of the text messages between her and Rosenberg, which included a “Missing you already!” text from him. He concluded that although there was “nothing that could be construed as constituting sexual harassment,” the text messages “reveal an uncomfortable and inappropriate level of familiarity and informality.”
In a 15-page report provided to FIU’s board of trustees, Isicoff concluded Rosenberg, now a tenured faculty member, was “unprofessional,” “crossed” boundaries, and “displayed extremely poor judgment.” According to the report, it’s up to the faculty advisory board to decide if FIU will do anything further to deal with the findings.
Read the full report below: