A national organization representing college professors is launching an investigation into the firing of Melissa Click, the University of Missouri professor caught on video calling for “muscle” to block a student journalist.
The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday announced representatives will be on the Columbia campus on March 22-23 to investigate the process used to fire Click last month.
This announcement comes after Click met last Friday’s deadline to appeal her dismissal to the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
The AAUP, which represents about 50,000 university professors and staff in 500 chapters, last month urged University of Missouri interim chancellor Hank Foley to rehire Click because the university had not followed its own policies for due process in dealing with faculty and questions of misconduct.
Click, who was an assistant professor of communications at MU, was let go by the Board of Curators after it received the results of an external investigation commissioned by the board.
The investigation looked into Click’s behavior at a homecoming parade last fall during which she confronted and cursed at police and at a student protest in November led by a predominantly black student group seeking diversity and inclusion on campus. The protest led to a student hunger strike, Mizzou football players threatening a boycott and the resignation of the president of the four-campus university system.
More than 100 state lawmakers had called for Click’s ouster, although curators have said political pressure played no part in the firing.
In a statement Tuesday in response to the AAUP announcement, Click said, “instead of disciplining me for conduct that does not meet expectations for a university faculty member, the curators are punishing me for standing with students who have drawn attention to the issue of overt racism at the University of Missouri.”
Click added that curators are “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.
“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 Board of Curators and university system leaders declined to comment on Click’s statement or the AAUP investigation.
The AAUP investigation committee will consist of three AAUP members from other institutions who will visit the Columbia campus to meet with administrators, board members, faculty leaders and Click.
Findings won’t be available for several weeks. If the organization finds fault with the way Click was fired, the University of Missouri would be added to a censure list.
The list “serves as a warning to prospective faculty members that their rights may not be respected at the university,” said Laura Markwardt, AAUP spokeswoman.