University of Missouri (MU) professor Melissa Click has been fired after a vote by the school’s board of curators, three months after she grabbed national headlines for attacking a student journalist trying to cover a protest.
Previously, MU officials insisted Click’s job would be safe at least until a tenure review process was completed next summer. But after months of heavy pressure from Republican lawmakers who wanted Click off the government payroll, the board of curators voted four to two to have her dismissed early.
The vote to fire Click was made Wednesday, but news of the move was only published Thursday by the Columbia Daily Tribune.
The troubles for Click began last November, the same day MU President Timothy Wolfe announced his resignation in response to a protest wave led by black students who claimed he hadn’t done enough to address a hostile racial environment. Students continued to protest following Wolfe’s announcement, and several journalists attempted to cover the ongoing event.
One student with a camera ran into Click, who quickly called for “some muscle” to force him away from the protest and prevent him from covering it. The encounter, captured on video by the student himself, made Click a national punching bag due to her aggressive attack on free speech. Click’s position was made even more awkward by the fact she was a communications professor with a courtesy appointment at MU’s journalism school. (RELATED: The 9 Most Preposterous Parts Of Melissa Click’s Absurd Résumé)
Click eventually apologized, but her stunt made her a major liability for the university and a target for Republican lawmakers in Missouri. More than 100 lawmakers signed a petition demanding Click’s dismissal, and a recent state budget proposal included a provision to specifically defund Click’s salary. Not improving the situation was the recent discovery of another video that shows Click yelling at police officers during an October protest.
Click was finally suspended by the school in late January after she was prosecuted on a minor assault charge. Click made a plea deal to perform community service and avoid jail time.
The summary termination is likely to upset the school’s faculty as well as the protesters whom Click was defending at the rally. In early February, the Association of American University Professors condemned Click’s suspension without a hearing as a violation of her due process rights. Concerned Student 1950, the group that led MU’s protests, has defended Click as a martyr for the the cause of civil rights.
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