Thursday, February 25, 2016

University of Missouri Professor Fired Over Actions During Protest
Wall Street Journal
Feb. 25, 2016 5:38 p.m. ET

The University of Missouri communications professor who gained notoriety after she was filmed last November calling for “some muscle” to remove a journalist from a protest on campus was fired Wednesday night by the university system’s board of curators.

Melissa Click was trying to enforce a boundary around an encampment on the school’s main quad, where students were protesting school administrators for their handling of several racial incidents on the Columbia campus.

A month earlier she had cursed at police when they tried to remove a group of students who had stopped the car transporting Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri system, during a parade.

“The board believes that Dr. Click’s conduct was not compatible with university policies and did not meet expectations for a university faculty member,” said Pam Henrickson, the board’s chairwoman, in a statement released Thursday.

“The circumstances surrounding Dr. Click’s behavior, both at a protest in October when she tried to interfere with police officers who were carrying out their duties, and at a rally in November, when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights in a public space and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action.” The board had suspended Ms. Click with pay in January.

Ms. Click, who declined to comment on Thursday through a spokeswoman, issued an apology for her behavior shortly after the protest incident and said she regretted “the language and strategies” she used. She can appeal the board’s decision.

“My actions were shaped by exasperation with a few spirited reporters,” Ms. Click wrote in a public apology on Nov. 10, the day after the protest on the campus. “From this experience I have learned about humanity and humility.”

Racial tension at the University of Missouri’s flagship campus had been growing for weeks ahead of the protest, after the African-American student body president reported that he had been called a racial epithet while on campus. Later a swastika made of feces was found on a wall of a bathroom in a dorm on campus.

The board’s decision Wednesday night follows its investigation, which included interviews with more than 20 witnesses. Ms. Click was interviewed twice and represented by counsel on both occasions, according to the board’s statement.

“The process the Board of Curators used to reach a determination about Dr. Click’s employment at the university is not typical—but these have been extraordinary times in our university’s history, and I am in complete agreement with the board that the termination of Dr. Click is in the best interest of our university,” said Hank Foley, the interim chancellor for the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“Her actions in October and November are those that directly violate the core values of our university. I can assure you—as Board Chairwoman Henrickson noted—that there has been fairness in this process and investigation.”

The protests prompted Mr. Wolfe’s resignation as well as the resignation of university Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. They also sparked a string of protests on other campuses around the country. In January, the president of Ithaca College announced he would step down next year.

The incident at Missouri also polarized the state. In December, about 100 University of Missouri faculty members signed a letter saying that “much of the commentary in the press and on social media has gone beyond legitimate debate to ad hominem attacks on, and harassment of, Click personally.”

In January about 100 Missouri House Republicans sent a letter to the university’s board of curators criticizing Ms. Click’s “disregard for the First Amendment rights of reporters.”

Write to Douglas Belkin at

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