UPDATED: Curators reject Click’s appeal of her termination

Melissa Click: “I do appreciate the seriousness of this situation. I can, however, maintain that appreciation while expecting the University of Missouri to treat me fairly… and comply with the terms of the Rules and Regulations that govern my employment."
The UM System Board of Curators meet in February 2015 in Columbia. The curators recently heard and denied an appeal from assistant communications professor Melissa Click. Maneater File Photo

The UM System Board of Curators have rejected assistant professor Melissa Click’s appeal of their decision to fire her, board Chairwoman Pamela Henrickson announced in a news release Tuesday morning.

Henrickson said in the news release that the curators voted unanimously during an executive session portion of a meeting Monday. She said Click’s appeal “brought no new relevant information” to the curators.

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

UM System spokesman John Fougere said in an email that Click’s appeal was only reviewed by the Board of Curators, as the board is the university’s governing authority.

Click was fired Feb. 25 following an investigation commissioned by the Board of Curators into her involvement in campus protests last fall. She had been on paid suspension since Jan. 27, when the curators announced the investigation.

In a statement released Tuesday, Click said that she was not surprised by the board's decision, but she was dissatisfied.

"I will continue to fight the Board of Curators’ decision," Click said. "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."

In her appeal to the board, Click wrote that she had been assured in a Dec. 5 meeting with Senior Associate Provost Pat Okker and Ken Dean that she would receive a faculty hearing for any disciplinary action against her. No hearing was held, and on Jan. 25, interim Chancellor Hank Foley said in a press conference that Click’s job was safe while her application for tenure was being reviewed.

“Please be assured that I do appreciate the seriousness of this situation,” Click wrote in the appeal. “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.”

In her appeal, Click requested a hearing before a committee, following the guidelines outlined in the UM System’s Academic Tenure Regulations.

In the response to Click’s appeal, Henrickson wrote that the process in the Academic Tenure Regulations “is not the only means by which your employment can be terminated.”

Click also wrote that the board’s suggestion that she did not recognize the seriousness of her conduct is unfair.

“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. “I have repeatedly reached out to MU administration, from my Department Chair to the Chancellor’s staff to ask for advice and I have taken every action suggested to me. I deeply respect the University of Missouri and have been very concerned about how all of the events that unfolded in Fall 2015 have impacted the university’s reputation.”

The American Association of University Professors announced March 7 that it will send a committee to MU March 22–23 to conduct an investigation into Click’s termination. The investigation could result in MU being added to the AAUP’s censure list, which warns potential faculty and the public about institutions breaking academic freedom and tenure principles.

Click said in a statement that she supports the AAUP’s investigation and that the curators were using her as a scapegoat “to distract from larger campus issues.”

“Instead of seeking to silence Black students and their allies, MU must acknowledge the concerns of marginalized students on our campus, address the racial problems that shape the campus community and ensure fair treatment of all students, staff and faculty,” Click said.

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