AAUP Censures University of Missouri for Firing Melissa Click

Melissa Click
Melissa Click during a run-in with student journalists / Mark Schierbecker via AP
June 21, 2016

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) censured the University of Missouri over the weekend for firing former communications professor Melissa Click.

In a unanimous vote, the AAUP placed Mizzou on its censure list for the third time, which is a warning to potential faculty members that due process cannot be guaranteed at an institution. In its report, the AAUP cites "extraordinary political interference" by members of the Missouri legislature, saying it "had a significant, if not decisive, impact on the decision to terminate Professor Click’s appointment."

The AAUP launched an investigation into Click’s firing in March, weeks after the University of Missouri Board of Curators voted 4-2 in favor of Click’s dismissal.

When asked for comment, the university directed the Washington Free Beacon to the Board of Curators’ original statement on the AAUP investigation.

"The Board of Curators continues to stand behind our actions [sic], which were in the best interests of the University, regarding Dr. Melissa Click’s misconduct," the board said in a statement. "As the AAUP’s report acknowledges, this case did not involve a denial of Dr. Click’s academic freedom. But the AAUP’s report disregards the seriousness of her misconduct and reaches inconsistent and unsupported conclusions."

Click was captured on video calling for "muscle" to remove student journalist Mark Schierbecker from a protest camp set up by members of Concerned Student 1950 in the middle of Mizzou’s quad.

Click apologized, but she was suspended from her position at the university after Columbia prosecutor Josh Richey filed an assault charge against her. Charges were later dropped after Click agreed to a deal involving community service.

Video from a police body camera later surfaced of Click at Mizzou’s homecoming parade, joining Concerned Student members in blocking the car of former UM System president Tim Wolfe. She was also seen berating members of the Columbia Police Department. After this, more than 100 Missouri lawmakers signed a letter demanding the university take action on this matter.

The AAUP acknowledged Click’s conduct in both of these protests, but said, "we are not convinced that Professor Click’s actions on October 10 and November 9, 2015, even when viewed in the most unfavorable light, were adequate grounds for her dismissal by the University of Missouri system board of curators."

"In light of the board’s action against Professor Click and in the context of legislative threats to the institution and unresolved administrative turmoil, academic freedom and shared governance at MU are endangered," it said.