Julie Schmid, executive director of the American Association of University Professors, today authorized a formal investigation in the case of professor Melissa Click at the University of Missouri. In February, the board of curators of the University of Missouri system summarily dismissed Click from the UM faculty. Normative practice among American institutions of higher education is that a faculty member with indefinite tenure—or a probationary faculty member within the term of appointment—may be dismissed only following demonstration of cause in an adjudicative hearing before a faculty body.
The investigating committee will consist of three AAUP members from other institutions who will visit Columbia, Missouri, on March 22 and March 23 to meet with administrators, board members, faculty leaders, and Professor Click. After ascertaining the facts and the positions of the principal parties, the investigating committee will determine whether the board in dismissing Click violated the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and derivative AAUP-supported academic procedural standards, whether its actions disregarded the institution’s own stated policies, and whether conditions for academic freedom and tenure at the institution are sound.
The investigating committee will submit a draft report of its findings to the AAUP’s standing Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. If Committee A approves publication, the AAUP will send the draft text to the principal parties (including Professor Click and the administration) with an invitation for comment and corrections of fact. After being edited to take into account the comments received, the final text will be published online and in the AAUP’s Bulletin. At its June 3–4 meeting, Committee A will determine, on the basis of the published report, whether to recommend that the Association censure the UM administration at its June 18 annual meeting. Censure can be imposed only by vote of the delegates to the annual meeting.
The censure list is published for the purpose of informing Association members, the profession at large, and the public that unsatisfactory conditions of academic freedom and tenure have been found to prevail at the listed institutions. Censure thus serves as a warning to prospective faculty members that their rights may not be respected at the university. It indicates that an administration has been investigated for a violation and was found not to be observing generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure approved by the AAUP, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and more than 240 other professional and educational organizations that have endorsed the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.