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University of Missouri Board of Curators releases response to AAUP on Click investigation

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Christian Basi

March 17, 2016

COLUMBIA – The University of Missouri Board of Curators today released its response to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on the investigation and termination of former University of Missouri-Columbia professor Melissa Click.

The board’s response addressed the AAUP’s complaint that Dr. Click did not receive “an adjudicative hearing before an elected faculty body” and that her dismissal without such a faculty hearing was “fundamentally at odds with basic standards of academic due process as set forth in the joint 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings.”

The board submitted the written response to the AAUP in lieu of meeting with AAUP representatives. Among the points made by the board in its 10-page response:

  • The board’s action in terminating the employment of Dr. Click is fundamentally consistent with AAUP’s statements. None of the association’s statements establish an absolute right or requirement for a faculty hearing. Instead, their core principles concern protection of academic freedom and tenure. The matter involving Dr. Click did not concern her academic freedom and the board’s action does not undermine the principle of tenure (which Dr. Click did not have).

  • While the board endorses the normative practice of faculty hearings in cases of mid-term dismissal, it found it necessary to act on its own in this singular instance when existing university procedures failed to address the seriousness of Dr. Click’s conduct. The board based its decision on facts that were not in dispute and applied university standards that are consistent (and in some cases identical) with the AAUP’s expectations for a faculty member. Ultimately, the decision to terminate a faculty member’s employment rests with a governing board, as the 1958 statement recognizes. In reaching its decision in Dr. Click’s case, the board provided her with fairness and due process.

  • The board’s action does not threaten academic freedom or tenure and does not warrant censure. Rather, it serves as an occasion to review existing practice and processes in an effort to ensure that any future instance of faculty misconduct will be addressed with faculty review and without the need for the board to act on its own. The board intends to engage in such a review in collaboration with faculty.

To access the board’s response, please visit http://umurl.us/7CRP8.