Former University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe has lashed out at University of Missouri officials about events leading up to his resignation in November.
In an email sent January 19, addressed to, “friends” and with the subject, “confidential,” he said his resignation was “out of love for MU and the rest of the system,” and to, “prevent further embarrassment and a potential Ferguson-like event on the MU campus.” He described what he calls “unconscionable behaviors” that led to his resignation.
Some of the key points in Wolfe’s email are:
– He said his decision to resign was motivated by a “significant pending event” that was to occur on the campus the day he resigned, November 9. He said Diversity and Inclusion experts, the FBI, the Highway Patrol, Columbia Police and MU Campus Police were, “aware of a significant Ferguson protester on our MU campus and there was a threat that more were coming in for significant protest that day.”
“So as to prevent injury and further embarrassment on our campus,” Wolfe wrote,” the only way to relieve the pressure and stop the momentum was for me to resign.
The day Wolfe resigned, November 9, then-MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepped down and student Jonathan Butler ended a hunger strike.
– Wolfe accused Columbia senator and Republican candidate for Attorney General Kurt Schaefer of pressuring him to take away the right of Josh Hawley, Schaefer’s primary opponent, to ask for an unpaid leave of absence while running. Wolfe said when he refused, Schaefer asked him to intervene in a decision on tenure for Hawley.
He also said Schaefer worked with Bowen Loftin in “shaping” his testimony to the state senate’s Sanctity of Life committee, which Schaefer chaired and which investigated Planned Parenthood over the summer. Loftin also made the decision to end “refer and follow” privileges at the University hospital, which is what the doctor performing abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood facility cited as meeting state law requiring her to have privileges at a nearby hospital.
Wolfe wrote of Loftin, “his decision and testimony on Planned Parenthood upset the faculty.”
– Wolfe said “a few” members of the Board of Curators called on staff and faculty to “dig up dirt,” and used their positions to further personal agendas. He said information discussed at private board meetings was leaked to politicians and the media, and said when he approached the board about his belief that then-MU Chancellor Bowen Loftin should be fired, Board members were not responsive.
Wolfe said the Tiger football team’s strike is what garnered most of the national attention during the fall protests over the university’s handling of incidents of racism. He called the strike, “throwing gasoline on a small fire,” and said Coach Gary Pinkel missed a chance to teach players a life lesson.
He also predicts MU will lose more than $25-million in tuition and fees with reduced fall enrollment, and said the University could lose as much as $500-million in state funding. He said those amounts would have made the $1-million penalty the University would have incurred for forfeiting the BYU game pale.
– Wolfe said interim president Michael Middleton, who had been in charge of inclusion and diversity issues for more than 17 years, had a long-term relationship with Jonathan Butler, a leader with Concerned Student 1950. He said the Board should be asked why Middleton, who Wolfe wrote, “had failed miserably in his capacity as the long-time leader on diversity issues on the MU campus,” and said Middleton should be asked why he did not stop the growing protest by people he had a relationship with.
– Wolfe said his silence since his resignation has, “resulted in my name being attached unfairly to the issues of racism and incompetent leadership. As I have stated, I am willing to accept some of the responsibility for what happened.”
– Wolfe said negotiations over compensation for him have stalled and urged those who received the letter to call members of the Board of Curators to tell them to resolve the situation. “The among the board has put on the table for me is equivalent to what I would have been paid if they had terminated without cause and my annual performance and longevity incentive,” wrote Wolfe, adding the Board asked him to agree to a gag order.
“The Board’s last offer is neither fair nor consistent with Loftin and Pinkel’s treatment and is embarrassing in light of which leader did the right thing to help the university and which leader was only looking out for themselves.”