March 18, 2016

Turmoil at Mizzou

Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle
Black students who protested racism at the U. of Missouri at Columbia won a victory when two top administrators resigned. But symbolic gains are not the same as systemic ones, experts say: Changing a racial climate is a long-term struggle.

Last fall student protests over race relations rocked the University of Missouri at Columbia. The demonstrations prompted the university system's president and the flagship's chancellor to resign, and spawned a wave of similar unrest at colleges across the country.

Now Mizzou's leaders face the difficult tasks of trying to meet students' demands for change while restoring stability and the public's faith in their institution. Read more Chronicle coverage of the turmoil in Missouri in this collection of articles and essays.

The flagship again has been plunged into controversy after racist epithets and obscenities were shouted at black students. For many, the latest incident painfully recalls the events that led to demonstrations that rocked the campus last year.

The university, rocked by campus protests last year, has unveiled an ambitious multimillion-dollar plan. Experts say the follow-through will be as important as the rollout.

After protests rocked its flagship campus, the system is seeking an executive who possesses a broad range of qualifications. The question, one faculty leader asked, "is whether any human alive can meet all of them."

Students on the flagship campus say they are used to feeling invisible at times, singled out at others. They are hardly alone.

As protests over race grew at the University of Missouri in November, internal emails show a shaken administration trying to appease demonstrators, calm student fears, and assess a barrage of violent threats.

Kevin G. McDonald, who was hired on Wednesday, says he will bring an aptitude for building consensus and resolving conflict to the challenges that the university system faces.

University officials expected the numbers to fall for a variety of reasons. But with the threat of big budget cuts, they're scrambling to convince prospective students that the campus is a safe and welcoming space.

A team of students got access to the Missouri protest group before it made national news. Their documentary premiered on Saturday, with Spike Lee in the audience.

The assistant professor of communication, who was caught on camera in November trying to prevent a student journalist from covering a protest, had been vilified by state lawmakers.

A group of professors write that they had remained silent because they had trusted "systems designed to review, evaluate, and (if necessary) discipline faculty members. But those systems have failed."


A report commissioned by the university’s board sheds light on what happened before and after the professor’s infamous confrontation at a protest on the flagship’s quad.

One activist said the dismissal sent a message about what happens to those who aid black students who protest racism. Others, meanwhile, said the professor had acted despicably and needed to go.

Black students at Missouri talk about racial divides and how to fix a broken campus.

Across the country, students are demanding that colleges become more inclusive of minorities. But changing a racial climate is a long-term struggle.

The resignations of the system's and the flagship's top two officials represented a victory for student activists. But how will the university tackle the issues at the root of the protests?

R. Bowen Loftin’s resignation as chief of the flagship campus at Columbia has been cast as fallout from racial discord there. That’s not even the half of it.

The 12 kinds of email a professor got after she became a national spectacle.

Nearly three months after the University of Missouri’s top two officials resigned amid student protests, Michael Middleton leads an institution still wrestling with its path forward.

The University of Missouri has never effectively dealt with the "serious scars" of systemic racism and discrimination against African-Americans, says Michael Middleton, its interim president, and he hopes to help grapple with those issues.

I survived most of the racism. But for some of the kids who had been supported by black communities, the University of Missouri started as a dream school and wound up being a waking nightmare.

"We are ... tied in a single garment of destiny," the civil-rights leader wrote. The Tigers’ football players have taken up his mantle.