Curators release response to AAUP complaint about Click investigation
AAUP announced its intention to investigate Melissa Click’s firing shortly following her termination.
Mar. 17, 2016
The UM System Board of Curators released a response Thursday to the American Association of University Professors following AAUP’s announcement of a formal investigation into assistant communication professor Melissa Click’s firing.
In its response, authored by Board of Curators Chairwoman Pamela Henrickson, the board said it had been clear about the reasons why Click was fired and said they did not believe a meeting with the AAUP was necessary.
The AAUP announced on March 7 that it would be launching an investigation into Click’s firing to see if MU’s policies and the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure had been violated. Depending on the AAUP’s findings, MU could be added to its censure list, which warns faculty about universities breaking academic freedom and tenure policies.
In the board’s response, Henrickson wrote that Click’s academic freedom had not been violated and had not been a source of contention.
“The matter involving Dr. Click did not concern her academic freedom and the board’s action does not undermine the principle of tenure (which Dr. Click did not have),” Henrickson wrote.
Additionally, the AAUP said faculty should have had a role in Click’s termination decision.
“Normative practice among American institutions of higher education is that a faculty member with indefinite tenure — or a probationary faculty member within the term of appointment — may be dismissed only following demonstration of cause in an adjudicative hearing before a faculty body,” the AAUP said in their announcement of their investigation.
The board said that it found it necessary to conduct its own investigation into Click without faculty hearings.
“While the board endorses the normative practice of faculty hearings in cases of mid-term dismissal, it found it necessary to act on its own in this singular instance when existing university procedures failed to address the seriousness of Dr. Click’s conduct,” Henrickson wrote in the board’s response.
The board said it had the legal right to fire Click.
“Ultimately, the decision to terminate a faculty member’s employment rests with a governing board, as the 1958 statement recognizes,” the board’s response read. “In reaching its decision in Dr. Click’s case, the board provided her with fairness and due process.”
The response to the AUUP included a list of what the board called “undisputed facts” about Click’s conduct in the fall such as attempting to block police officers during the October Homecoming parade and calling for “muscle” to remove student journalist Mark Schierbecker. The board also referenced university and AAUP standards that had been applied to Click’s case.
The board said the steps taken to fire Click were “well known and consistent with fairness and due process,” reviewing relevant information pertaining to Click, interviewing her and other witnesses and taking into consideration Click’s appeal of her termination, which the board rejected.
Edited by Taylor Blatchford | firstname.lastname@example.org