A day after the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri suspended a professor who has been under fire for trying to block student journalists from covering a protest on the Columbia campus last fall, a panel of faculty leaders at the flagship called on the board to use “existing procedures” if it believed a formal investigation was warranted.
The board’s chair announced the suspension of the professor, Melissa A. Click, in a brief statement issued on Wednesday night at the conclusion of a special board meeting. The statement said the board had asked the university’s general counsel to “immediately conduct an investigation,” or hire an outside counsel to do so, “and promptly report back to the board so it may determine whether additional discipline is appropriate.”
On Thursday the Executive Committee of the MU Faculty Council on University Policy approved a statement that elaborates on the flagship’s procedures for filing and investigating charges of unethical or irresponsible conduct by faculty members. The committee said that, to the best of its knowledge, no such complaints had been filed against Ms. Click, who is seen in a widely circulated video shoving a student journalist and calling for “some muscle” to help bar him from an area on a campus quad where protesters had gathered in November. In the video another university employee and protesters also confront the student journalist.
Some faculty members who had seen the video considered bringing a complaint against Ms. Click, the faculty panel’s statement says, but “decided against doing so because Professor Click issued a heartfelt apology” and because the provost had admonished her for her actions. Others decided against doing so, it says, because they didn’t want to add to the barrage of criticism and “vitriolic attacks” Ms. Click suffered after the video went viral.
But that hesitation may have only made the situation worse, the statement says: “With the benefit of hindsight, it appears that public confidence in the university, its administration, and its faculty would have been bolstered had a charge been filed against Professor Click during the fall.”
The faculty panel urged the board, if it felt an investigation was necessary, to bring a charge against Ms. Click under the flagship’s policy for dealing with such complaints. For the board to suspend Ms. Click, the statement says, and conduct its own investigation, “without using the existing procedures that the board has approved, undermines confidence in the current leadership of the university.”