Foley speaks on Click's tenure status

Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said there is no chance of Click’s termination before the tenure issue is decided.

Assistant professor Melissa Click’s job is currently safe, interim Chancellor Hank Foley said at a press conference Monday, which was held in light of the third-degree assault charge on Click. Her potential to receive tenure at MU is less certain.

“Because of the gravity of the matter, I considered it important to speak to you and to all Missourians today,” Foley said. “Assault requires adjudication by a court of law, and now it’s in the hands of the legal system, as is appropriate.”

Foley opened the conference with a personal apology on behalf of the university to student reporters Tim Tai and Mark Schierbecker, whom Click tried to remove from the Concerned Student 1950 campsite Nov. 9, 2015.

“Trust has been lost already. We can’t lose more trust. We have to build trust. We have to rebuild trust in leadership,” Foley said at the press conference.

The university will be watching to see the outcome of the case, he said. Meanwhile, officials will continue to address the question of whether Click will receive tenure. The tenure process at MU begins in early September and ends in late spring or early summer of the following year. This means Click had already begun applying for tenure when the incident occurred in November.

“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. “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.”

Click’s bid for tenure is almost completed but awaits approval from Provost Garnett Stokes and Foley. If Click does not receive tenure, she will have one year to leave MU and find another job, Foley said. If she does receive it, she will have it by Aug. 1, Stokes said.

Foley said it is vital to avoid making “capricious decisions” in this matter.

“Trust has been lost already,” he said. “We can’t lose more trust. We have to build trust. We have to rebuild trust in leadership.”

He also said it is important to decide how much weight Click’s behavior has in the tenure debate.

“In most cases, the decision (to grant tenure) is made on the base of scholarship, teaching and service,” Foley said. “There (usually) isn’t an extra, added layer of this kind.”

Foley said he has asked Stokes and Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science, to determine whether Click should continue to teach while the charges are being resolved.

“Dr. Click is frankly aggrieved by this whole situation,” Foley said. “She feels very bad about it, from what I understand. I think she had a moment of heated anger that day, and I doubt very much that she would do anything like that again.”

Click is working from home for the duration of this week, and they are still deciding if she will be teaching again next week. Foley said her presence could be distracting.

“There is the risk that (Click’s classroom) could become an awkward, odd learning environment (if she teaches this week),” he said.

Foley said this is Click’s first offense since she started working at this university in 2003. He called her a “model citizen in other ways.”

Foley and associate professor of law Ben Trachtenberg announced Jan. 20 that they assembled a committee of legal and constitutional scholars, MU Police Department representatives, other MU administrators, students and staff to examine the events of Nov. 9 and decide if further action is necessary. The committee will deliver recommendations on how to regulate public spaces and protect free speech.

The committee will prepare the university for any similar situations that might come up in the future, as the incident was unexpected. This process will take a few months, he said.

Foley declined to comment on the appropriateness of the charges against Click, saying the prosecutor was the right person to ask.

Foley’s final statement was that there is no chance of Click’s termination before the tenure issue is decided.

Click will plead not guilty to the assault charge and will be in municipal court for a hearing Tuesday, according to ABC 17 News. Foley said administration will follow the case’s progress through the courts.

Missouri lawmakers offered their takes on the situation Monday as well.

"I'm a former prosecutor and there are multiple ways that you can establish third-degree assault, and there are two of them that I can watch that video and show it's established in there," state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) told ABC 17 News.

Schaefer and state Rep. Caleb Jones (R-Columbia), two of the Republican legislators who petitioned for Click’s removal in December, told ABC 17 News they were disappointed that MU did not deal with the situation sooner.

“Whenever someone doesn't educate students safely, they don't need to be on the University of Missouri's campus,” Jones said.

Edited by Waverly Colville | wcolville@themaneater.com

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