Former interim UM System President Mike Middleton waves to the crowd (copy)


MU will have a new Center for Race, Citizenship and Justice, and it will be named for former Deputy Chancellor and UM System Interim President Michael Middleton pending final approval by the UM System Board of Curators.

The board’s Academic, Student Affairs, Research and Economic Development Committee approved the two items together Wednesday. The vote was 3-1 with curator Greg Hoberock dissenting.

“I just fundamentally do not believe that we should name something prior to its creation,” Hoberock said during a conference call. The subcommittee met in advance of the full board meeting Sept. 24.

Middleton is an MU graduate and civil rights lawyer, as well as deputy chancellor emeritus and professor at the MU School of Law. He served as interim system president after Tim Wolfe stepped down in November 2015 in the midst of campus protests.

Middleton later served as interim president of Lincoln University in Jefferson City. His life is the subject of the 2019 documentary “Only The Educated Are Free: The Journey of Michael A. Middleton.”

The center will promote the study and research of race, citizenship and racial justice in the United States. Hoberock said he has no objections to naming the center for Middleton after it has been created.

It will be an intellectual institute and not a physical building, UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi told the committee.

Stephanie Shonekan, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, and S. David Mitchell, associate dean for academic affairs at the MU School of Law, will lead the center. The State Historical Society of Missouri will work in partnership with the center.

“I look forward to having reasonable and generative conversations with scholars across the campus on how race and culture and history are so interwoven in American history and American experiences,” Shonekan said.

Also Wednesday, the committee unanimously approved a new master’s program in defense and strategic studies at MU, aimed at military officers and those in defense or intelligence fields. The one-year program is expected to have 50 students at full capacity.

  • Education reporter, fall 2019 Studying print and digital journalism Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and

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