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University of Missouri curators say no to Melissa Click

Melissa Click
KBIA - Provided by Melissa Click

The University of Missouri Board of Curators has rejected an appeal by Melissa Click to overturn her firing in the wake of her behavior during student protests at Mizzou last fall.

In a statement released Tuesday, board chair Pamela Henrickson said the curators voted unanimously during closed session Monday to uphold Click’s termination because her appeal “brought no new relevant information.”

Henrickson said the action ends what has been a contentious situation that has divided students, faculty, lawmakers and others connected with the university.

“Dr. Click was treated fairly throughout this matter,” Henrickson’s statement said, “including meeting with investigators multiple times to share information as well as her opinion; providing investigators with a list of favorable witnesses, with every attempt made by investigators to meet with those suggested by Dr. Click; ample opportunity, along with her legal counsel, to review and provide comments to the investigator’s report, which included all documents, videos and witness statements in the report, before the final report was even reviewed by the board; and finally, Dr. Click’s opportunity to appeal the decision of the board.

“We consider this matter now closed and are moving forward as a university and as a community.”

In response, Click released her own statement:

"I am not surprised, but am certainly dissatisfied with the University of Missouri Board of Curators’ denial of my appeal and termination of my employment. I will continue to fight the Board of Curators’ decision. Supported by the American Association of University Professors, the UM System Intercampus Faculty Council, and MU’s Faculty Council, I believe the Curators’ actions violate university policy and set a dangerous precedent. I maintain the belief that my actions should be fairly reviewed within the context of the volatile situations I encountered on October 10, 2015 and November 9, 2015, and within the context of 12 years of outstanding service to MU. Although the Curators’ decision appears to be designed to discourage future activism, I hope the MU community will continue to advocate for fair treatment of all students, staff, and faculty."

A letter to Click, released at the same time as Henrickson’s statement, emphasized the reasons for the firing.

“The Board reiterates that it is your conduct that is the reason for termination of your employment,” Henrickson wrote. “Specifically, your employment is being terminated based on the instances of conduct addressed in the Board’s February 25 letter, including conduct that interfered with the rights of others, not based on any exercise of rights on your part. The Board reiterates that it is not acting based on any views you have expressed or your association with any students or others.”

In an apparent reference to plans by the American Association of University Professors to investigate the circumstances surrounding Click’s dismissal, Henrickson added:

“The Board’s action in this matter is consistent with the terms of your employment and University rules.”

The university also released a copy of Click’s appeal, in which she said: “I strongly disagree with your assessment that my conduct on October 10, 2015 and November 9, 2015 ‘was not compatible with University policies and did not meet expectations for a University faculty member.’ In my participation and in my actions on both days I firmly believe I was exercising my protected rights as a United States citizen and a citizen of the State of Missouri.”

Click also disagreed with a conclusion by the curators that she has not shown that she appreciates the seriousness of her conduct.

“Four months of public scrutiny, thousands of angry, threatening emails, and the possibility of losing a job I have loved and excelled at for 12 years has certainly impressed upon me the seriousness of my conduct,” Click wrote in her appeal.

She added: “Please be assured that I do appreciate the seriousness of this situation. I can, however, maintain that appreciation while expecting the University of Missouri to treat me fairly, give me due process, and comply with the terms of the Rules and Regulations that govern my employment.”

Click’s actions during the homecoming parade at Mizzou in October and at a demonstration after the resignation of system President Tim Wolfe in November has led to denunciation by scores of legislators and support from faculty members in Columbia.

The University of Missouri’s Board of Curators holds the license for St. Louis Public Radio.

Follow Dale on Twitter: @dalesinger

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.

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