AAUP Investigates Case of Melissa Click

By Hans-Joerg Tiede

During the student protests at the University of Missouri last November, the confrontation between Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communication, and two student journalists became a center of attention after Click tried to exclude the student journalists from a public place on campus where student protesters had erected a tent colony. During the confrontation, Click jostled the camera of one of the journalists. She subsequently apologized and resigned from her courtesy appointment in the School of Journalism.

Click’s case attracted an unusual amount of interest from the Missouri legislature, beginning with two letters signed by more than one hundred Republican state legislators that called for her dismissal. In February, Click was indicted for third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, after which the board of curators suspended her, pending an investigation by a law firm. After the publication of the results of that investigation in March, the board dismissed Click without affording her a faculty hearing. Immediately following her dismissal, AAUP executive director Julie Schmid authorized an investigation of the board’s actions. In addition to the apparent violation of Click’s academic due process, the case raises important questions about governing board overreach and political pressure on academic personnel decisions that the investigating committee addressed in its report, which was published in May.  

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