The Maneater

Click supports AAUP’s investigation of her dismissal

An investigation by AAUP committees may result in MU being added to a censure list, warning potential faculty of academic and tenure freedom breaches.

Courtesy of Lacy Rushin

The American Association of University Professors announced Monday that it will send a committee to MU to conduct a formal investigation of assistant communication professor Melissa Click’s termination, according to a news release.

Depending on their findings, the AAUP may add MU to its censure list, which warns “association members, the profession at large and the public” about institutions breaking academic freedom and tenure principles. It reports investigated administrations and serves as a caution to potential faculty.

On Feb. 24, the UM System Board of Curators voted to terminate Click’s employment during an executive session, according to previous Maneater reporting, despite Click having been well into the process of being evaluated for tenure. Not only was this method incongruent with common practice nationwide, it also deviated from standard MU procedure.

Click released a statement Tuesday in support of the AAUP’s upcoming investigation. Click has appealed the board’s decision to terminate her without due process and said the AAUP’s investigation into the matter underscores her belief that “the Curators have overstepped their authority,” according to her statement.

“The Board of Curators is using me as a scapegoat to distract from larger campus issues, but their termination of my employment will not remedy the environment of injustice that persists at MU,” Click wrote. “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.”

The UM System and the Board of Curators had no comment on the AAUP’s decision to investigate, spokesman John Fougere said in an email.

Three AAUP committee members from other institutions will visit Columbia on March 22–23 to meet with board and faculty leaders, administration and Click.

The investigating committee will gather information about the board’s proceedings and the positions of principal parties to determine if the dismissal violated the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

The statement has been endorsed by more than 240 educational organizations including the Missouri Association of Faculty Senates, according to the AAUP website.

The AAUP release states termination should, if possible, be considered by both a faculty committee and the board, and in all cases of dispute, the accused teacher be informed of charges before a hearing proceeds. The committee will question whether the board’s actions disregarded MU’s own policies concerning academic freedom and tenure.

A draft report of the committee’s findings will be sent to the AAUP’s standing Commitee A, which focuses on Academic Freedom and Tenure. If approved, Click and MU administration will be invited to comment on the draft. The AAUP will publish the final text online and in its bulletin, and Committee A will use the report at its meeting June 3 and 4 to determine if censuring the MU administration is justified.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford | tblatchford@themaneater.com

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