Timothy M. Wolfe, the former president of the University of Missouri system who stepped down last year amid fierce protests over racism at the Columbia flagship, says in a newly disclosed “confidential” letter that many other parties were to blame for his resignation.
In the letter, sent by Mr. Wolfe to supporters and obtained by The Columbia Missourian, Mr. Wolfe blames R. Bowen Loftin, the former flagship chancellor, Gary Pinkel, the flagship’s head football coach, and some system board members for acting inappropriately and hastening his decision to resign.
“I resigned out of love for MU and the rest of the system,” Mr. Wolfe writes, “and I felt that it was the right thing to do at the time to prevent further embarrassment and a potential Ferguson-like event on the MU campus.”
Also in the letter, Mr. Wolfe:
- Alleges that Mr. Loftin “shifted the focus” of student protesters “to me from him once he discovered his job was in jeopardy.” (Mr. Loftin told the Missourian that characterization is “inaccurate.”)
- Writes that the football team’s protest, which drew national attention to Columbia, was “the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a small fire.”
- Asserts that some members of the Board of Curators attempted to “dig up dirt” to “further personal agendas.”
The Missourian reports that the letter was forwarded to officials in the system a week ago, and that the interim chancellor, Henry C. (Hank) Foley, has passed it out to his staff. A system spokesman acknowledged to the newspaper that discussions about a “financial agreement” with Mr. Wolfe are in progress.
The twin resignations of Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Loftin were seen as a significant victory for the protesters, known as Concerned Student 1950, and galvanized similar efforts on campuses across the country.