Click’s termination not enough to stop budget cuts

Sen. Kurt Schaefer: “The University of Missouri has a very 1950s-style model of governance. That makes them sluggish and unresponsive.”

Courtesy of Lacy Rushin

Despite conflicting responses from Missouri state lawmakers regarding the termination of assistant communication professor Melissa Click, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a budget Thursday including a cut of $8.6 million from the UM System and $1 million from MU due to their handling of the situation.

Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, has said that it would not be appropriate to punish the whole university based on the actions of one person.

“Cutting any sort of funding to the university as some sort of retaliatory statement is unfair, it is shortsighted and it’s unnecessary,” Rowden said at a February town hall meeting.

He has recently attempted to avoid the $7.6 million university system administration budget cuts wholly or in part through four amendments that have not yet been discussed in the state legislature.

Alternatively, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Flanigan wanted to restore budget cuts to the campus, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. He had previously proposed amendments to make budget cuts to MU equaling $402,059, included in the $7.6 million cut. This figure is the sum of the salaries of Click and her two supervisors: Mitchell McKinney, chairman of the communication department, and Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science.

Nevertheless, state legislators are attempting to push through proposals that would lessen the political power of MU’s campus.

Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, D-St. Louis, proposed a bill and a resolution to label Lincoln University in Jefferson City as “the flagship institution of the state.” He has stated that this bill would not aim to eliminate the designation from MU. However, he believes that Lincoln would be a better choice due to MU’s inability to solve racial tensions through inadequate administration.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has proposed the implementation of a “University of Missouri System Review Commission” composed of eight outside members that would be appointed by the House and the Senate. This commission would aim to “compare the university to similar institutions elsewhere, study its structures and make recommendations for change.”

“The University of Missouri has a very 1950s-style model of governance,” Schaefer told the Columbia Daily Tribune article. “That makes them sluggish and unresponsive.”

Part of their criticism includes the university’s handling of Click’s termination, which occurred Feb. 25.

In December, the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate each penned a letter to interim Chancellor Hank Foley and the Board of Curators calling for the immediate removal of Click from her university positions. More than 100 Republicans from the House and 18 Republicans from the Senate signed their respective letter.

The letters condemned her “inappropriate and criminal actions” during the protests as well as her questioning her ability to teach effectively. They claimed that she violated First Amendment rights.

“... Professor Click spent her paid time off from teaching to assault students, harass citizens of Missouri, and work in contravention of our Constitution,” the letters read.

However, there have been disagreements over the letters’ merits.

In a news release, Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia, agreed with the terms of the letters, and campaigned for the termination of Click.

“At every turn, Click’s actions were unacceptable and inflammatory in a situation where the students and the public needed and expected university employees to serve professionally and as a calming influence,” Jones said.

Gov. Jay Nixon has stated that while he thinks Click was in the wrong, he does not agree with the letters’ intent, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

He has said that “he doesn’t want to ‘micromanage’ the university,” which he believes these letters are doing.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford | tblatchford@themaneater.com

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