-updated

University of Missouri leaders terminated MU Police Officer Marcus Collins Tuesday after leaders verified a photo of Collins in blackface.

A university spokesman says Collins acknowledged that he was the individual in the picture and that it was prior to his employment with the police department.

“This type of behavior is not tolerated at Mizzou, and we understand how this impacts our entire community profoundly,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said in a press release. “Racism, hate and insensitive behavior have no place on our campus. We are committed to our values of respect, responsibility, discovery, and excellence, and to making our campus a place where everyone feels welcome and protected.”

University spokesman Christian Basi says the termination happened within hours of the university getting the photo from an anonymous source.

“It is actions like these taken by our leadership that are swift and decisive when something like this happens, that tells our campus community that we value everyone very much,” Basi told Missourinet Tuesday.

Racial tension and protests hurt enrollment after 2015 when the university system president and the chancellor of the Columbia campus resigned.

Basi says the university and its chief diversity officer have made significant progress in creating a climate that is inclusive where everyone can feel safe. He cites recent freshman enrollment, which increased by 13 percent in 2018.

“We had a significant rise last year and are expecting another significant rise this coming year,” he says.

According to campus-based newspaper Missourian, the 2018 freshman class also includes 30.5 percent more students from minority backgrounds than the 2017 class.