University of Missouri names African-American alumnus as interim president

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2015 3:11 PM

(Reuters) - The University of Missouri named an African-American administrator and former student as interim president on Thursday, three days after his predecessor resigned after protests over handling of racial incidents at the school.

The school's Board of Curators named former University of Missouri-Columbia Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton as interim president for the four-campus system, effective immediately.

He had retired on Aug. 31 and had been serving in a part-time role at the schools, directing efforts to improve inclusion and diversity within campus activities.

“Mike Middleton is the best person to lead the system during this critical period of transition, with 30 years of leadership experience on the MU campus and past service as a civil rights attorney,” Donald Cupps, chair of the Board of Curators said in a statement.

Middleton, a former law professor at the school as well as an alumnus, said he was looking forward to working with leaders on the four campuses.

“The time has come for us to acknowledge and address our daunting challenges, and return to our relentless adherence to the University of Missouri’s mission to discover, disseminate, preserve and apply knowledge,” he said.

Middleton's predecessor, Tim Wolfe, resigned on Monday under heavy criticism by many students for his handling of reports of racial abuse on campus. Wolfe said he took responsibility for his inaction and urged people to use his exit as a chance to heal instead of hate.

Two days later, death threats were made on social media against black students at school's Columbia campus. On Thursday, 19-year-old Hunter M. Park was charged with making the threats.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Bill Rigby)