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Melissa Click fired by University of Missouri Board of Curators

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COLUMBIA, MO (KTVI) - The University of Missouri Board of Curators has fired Assistant Professor of Communication Melissa Click. She drew national attention in November when she called for "muscle" to remove a student journalist from the scene of a student protest on racism. The video went viral.

The announcement came during a Thursday afternoon conference call. Board chair Pam Henrickson said they received the results of an investigation. The board voted to terminate based on the findings.  The vote was four to two in favor of firing her.

When asked if there is a severance package Henrickson responded, "It is a straight-up dismissal."

According to a public relations firm working for Click, she does not have any comment today. She is entitled to request reconsideration of her dismissal by the curators.

The Board says that there was no pressure from Missouri state legislators to fire the professor.  The investigation was started after charges were pressed against the professor.  She is charged with a misdemeanor assault in connection with a run-in with student journalists during campus protests in November 2015.

This is a statement University of Missouri Board of Curators chair Pam Henrickson:

Investigators reviewed relevant documents, materials and video recordings, as well as interviewed more than 20 witnesses. Dr. Click was interviewed twice and was represented by counsel on both occasions. When Dr. Click identified witnesses that she thought were relevant, the investigators interviewed - or attempted to interview - each of those witnesses and included their information in the report.

On February 12, Dr. Click was provided a complete copy of the report of the investigation, which included all documents, videos and witness statements gathered during the investigation and was offered the opportunity to submit a written response. Her response was received on February 19, after which the board received the report from investigators, including Dr. Click’s response.

After reviewing the report and Dr. Click’s response, and, after extensive discussion, the board voted last night in executive session to terminate the employment of Dr. Click. She has the right to appeal her termination. The board went to significant lengths to ensure fairness and due process for Dr. Click.

The board believes that Dr. Click’s conduct was not compatible with university policies and did not meet expectations for a university faculty member. The circumstances surrounding Dr. Click’s behavior, both at a protest in October when she tried to interfere with police officers who were carrying out their duties, and at a rally in November, when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights in a public space and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action.

Body cam video from two Columbia Police officers became public in February after the Columbia Missourian newspaper sought the material under a Freedom of Information Act request. The video shows Click stepping between students and police as officers asked the students to leave the street and return to the sidewalk. They did move back. She can be heard yelling at officers and at one point cursed one of them.

Click said, “That’s a moment that I’m sorry for. I think I was surprised that an officer put his hands on me and pushed me. Like I said, I’ve never done anything like that before.”

The University of Missouri has released the report and a timeline of events:

Timeline:

  • October 10, 2015 – Dr. Click blocks Homecoming parade and gets into confrontation with CPD
  • November 9, 2015 – Click attempts to exclude people from public spaces on Carnahan Quadrangle; attempts to prohibit Tim Tai and other media from covering event; knocks MU student Mark Schierbecker’s camera ajar and calls for “muscle” to remove him from area
  • January 25, 2016 – City Prosecutor brings charge against Click for assaulting Schierbecker
  • January 27, 2016 – Board of Curators suspends Click and orders investigation to determine whether additional discipline is appropriate
  • January 28, 2016 – Bryan Cave law firm commences investigation
  • February 4, 2016 – Board of Curators schedules a meeting for February 24, 2016
  • February 12, 2016 – Bryan Cave completes investigation and provides investigative report to Click for response
  • February 19, 2016 – Click provides response to investigative report
  • February 20, 2016 – Investigative report and Click’s response provided to board of curators
  • February 22, 2016 – Public Notice of board meeting for February 24, 2016
  • February 24, 2016 – Board meeting and vote
  • February 25, 2016 – Announcement

To access the complete investigative report and accompanying files, please visit the following links:

Report to the UM Board of Curators (PDF, 296 KB) http://umurl.us/VS4g
Exhibits 1-31 (PDF, 1.5 MB) http://umurl.us/MmzL
Exhibits 32-52 (PDF, 808 KB) http://umurl.us/zmsta
Click response to report (PDF, 260 KB) http://umurl.us/sLr
Letter to Click from UM Board of Curators (PDF, 504 KB) http://umurl.us/LD2P