Curators’ decision to fire Click highlights Foley’s shift in opinion
Many faculty have questioned his support of Click’s firing by the UM System Board of Curators.
Feb. 27, 2016
In exactly a month, interim Chancellor Hank Foley went from assuring MU that professor Melissa Click wouldn’t be fired until her tenure process was completed to saying that he was in agreement with the UM System Board of Curators’ decision to fire her.
Foley held a press conference Jan. 25 to address Click’s job status after she was charged with third-degree assault by the Columbia prosecutor’s office.
“For those of you who are calling for hasty action, I say this: We have good, strong processes in place, and we’ll follow them to their completion and logical outcome,” Foley said at the press conference. “When we deviate from such time-honored traditions at the university, as some have called for, we tend to make mistakes, and it often leads to turmoil.”
He said that he believed Click had a moment of “heated anger” Nov. 9, when she called for “muscle” to remove student journalist Mark Schierbecker from near the Concerned Student 1950 campsite. Foley said he doubted she would do anything similar again and called her a “model citizen in other ways.”
One person asked if there was a chance that Click would be fired before the tenure process was completed.
"No,” Foley said. “Not going to happen.”
Then, on Jan. 27, the board suspended Click pending further investigation.
Less than a month later, after a video surfaced showing Click yelling an expletive at Columbia police officers during the October Homecoming parade, Foley issued a statement chastising her actions.
“Her conduct and behavior are appalling, and I am not only disappointed, I am angry, that a member of our faculty acted this way,” Foley said in the statement. “Her actions caught on camera last October, are just another example of a pattern of misconduct by Dr. Click — most notably, her assault on one of our students while seeking ‘muscle’ during a highly volatile situation on Carnahan Quadrangle in November.”
On Feb. 25, chairwoman of the board Pam Henrickson, UM System interim President Mike Middleton and Foley held a press conference. During the press conference, Henrickson announced that following an investigation and 4-2 board vote, Click was fired.
Foley said during the press conference that he was in “complete agreement” with the board’s decision.
“Her actions in October and November are those that directly violate the core values of our university,” Foley said. “I can assure you — as Board Chairwoman Henrickson noted — that there has been fairness in this process and investigation.”
Foley’s opinion left many faculty feeling angry. During a Faculty Council meeting held less than two hours after the announcement of Click’s firing, Foley answered questions from faculty in attendance.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Faculty Council chairman Ben Trachtenberg said that the board had undermined Foley’s authority by firing Click after Foley said she wouldn’t be suspended without due process. Foley disagreed.
“I think they did the right thing,” Foley said.
Multiple faculty members questioned his opinion during the council meeting. Some also voiced concern that any faculty could be fired if the board decided they didn’t like something they said.
“Click acted in protection of students,” council member Angela Speck said. “Who gets to say this is unacceptable? Someone needs to explain where the lines are.”
“Well, we’ll be working on that,” Foley said.
Edited by Taylor Blatchford | firstname.lastname@example.org