COLUMBIA — Melissa Click's appeal to get her job back was unanimously rejected by the UM System Board of Curators during a closed meeting Monday. 

"In the board’s view, her appeal brought no new relevant information to the curators," board chair Pamela Henrickson announced in a news release.

Click had been on paid suspension since Jan. 27. UM System spokesman John Fougere said that effective Tuesday, Click would no longer be paid by the university.

The curators' announcement included copies of Click's appeal and the board's response.

In her March 4 appeal to the Board of Curators, Click had listed the reasons she disagreed with the board's decision to fire her.

"I steadfastly believe it would be a violation of my First Amendment rights and my rights to academic freedom to suggest that my interactions on either day provide grounds for the termination of my employment," Click wrote. 

She also said she believed her firing "without due process in the form of a fair hearing by a faculty body" violated her contract of employment with MU, the policies of the university and "basic standards of academic due process generally."

She cited support from the UM System Intercampus Faculty Council, the MU Faculty Council and the American Association of University Professors. She also called into question the fairness of the investigative report conducted by law firm Bryan Cave.

Click closed her letter by saying that her "participation in the process the Board has created here should not be construed as acquiescence to the appropriateness of this process."

"In submitting this appeal, I am not waiving any claims I may have arising out of or relating to my employment with the university, and am not in any way prejudicing any of my claims, which are expressly reserved," she wrote.

"I believe that my rights have been violated and that the Board’s conduct is illegal, but submit this 'appeal' to assure that I have taken advantage of every opportunity to be heard."

In a letter to Click on Tuesday, Henrickson said the board had taken her letter into account but had not changed its decision.

"The Board reiterates that it is your conduct that is the reason for termination of your employment," Henrickson wrote. "Specifically, your employment is being terminated based on the instances of conduct addressed in the Board’s February 25 letter, including conduct that interfered with the rights of others, not based on any exercise of rights on your part."

Henrickson said that the board's action had been consistent with the terms of Click's employment and university rules, which are spelled out in the UM System's Collected Rules and Regulations

"Your appointment is expressly subject to the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri," Henrickson wrote. "Under those rules, the Board expressly possesses and retains authority to terminate your appointment."

The curators voted 4-2 to fire Click on Feb. 24 from her position as an assistant professor of communication. The firing was announced Feb. 25 after Bryan Cave's investigation was completed. 

Henrickson clarified Click's status during a news conference after a curators meeting Monday. As to what the appeal process would entail, Henrickson said that there was no timeline and that the steps were uncertain.

"We're on unplowed ground here," she said Monday.

Click was filmed Nov. 9 confronting MU student and videographer Mark Schierbecker near the Concerned Student 1950 camp on the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle during demonstrations following former UM System President Tim Wolfe's resignation. Schierbecker uploaded to YouTube footage of Click calling for "some muscle" to remove Schierbecker from a human wall surrounding the camp, and the video went viral.

On Oct. 10, Click linked arms with Concerned Student 1950 members blocking the progress of Wolfe's car in MU's Homecoming parade. After the group was dispersed by Columbia police officers, Click stepped between graduate student activist Jonathan Butler and a police officer and demanded that police back away. That tense encounter, which included Click's use of an expletive, was captured by police body camera footage the Missourian published Feb. 13.

In a statement last week, Click said that she thought the curators had not acted fairly and that she believed they should stick to MU's Collected Rules and Regulations. Those rules outline a process by which faculty misconduct complaints are handled in a series of hearings beginning at the department level. 

MU faculty members, the MU Faculty Council, the UM System Intercampus Faculty Council, the American Association of University Professors and the MU chapter of the AAUP have said that Click was entitled to due process and a hearing. The national AAUP has launched an investigation into Click's firing and its ad hoc investigative committee plan to meet with the curators on March 22 and 23. 

Henrickson said she would not elaborate on her earlier remarks.

Missourian reporter William Schmitt contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

  • Spring 2016 Education Reporter | Undergraduate | Arts and Culture Journalism Twitter: @raphillips96

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