Alpha Frater named interim President of The University of Missouri
The University of Missouri Board of Curators on Thursday named long-time university administrator Mike Middleton as the interim president of the four-campus system
Middleton has most recently served as deputy chancellor emeritus of the Columbia campus. The curators held a lengthy closed-door meeting on Wednesday and met again on Thursday to make the announcement about Middleton.
Middleton retired Aug. 31 after 30 years at the university and 17 years as deputy chancellor. He currently is also professor emeritus of law at MU. Middleton received his bachelor’s degree from the university in 1968 and his law degree in 1971. He joined the MU faculty in 1985.
The interim president will temporarily replace Tim Wolfe, who resigned Monday under pressure from students and faculty who said he had not responded to what they described as a racially intolerant and oppressive campus climate in Columbia.
Also Thursday, the Nodaway County prosecutor accused Connor B. Stottlemyre, 19, of Blue Springs on Thursday with making racist threats on social media. The prosecutor charged Stottlemyre, a freshman at Northwest Missouri State University, with two counts of making a terrorist threat, according to court documents. One count is a felony charge, the other a misdemeanor. It was unclear whether his alleged threats were connected to the student protests in Columbia.
The university campus had become the site of a series of protests including graduate student rallies, black students camping out and a graduate student who went on a hunger strike until Wolfe resigned his position. MU football players joined the protest last weekend, refusing to play until Wolfe was gone. That move would potentially have cost the university $1 million.
Wolfe’s resignation came hours before MU’s Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also said he would step away from his position as of Jan. 1. Hank Foley, UM System executive vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development, was appointed interim chancellor for the MU campus.
Friends and colleagues of Middleton said he is a good choice to step into the president role.
Earlier this year Middleton was one of several MU Law alumni and faculty members appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to its new Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness which is focused on the judicial system generally, the civil justice system, the criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system, the municipal justice system and the practice of law.
Before returning to MU to teach, Middleton had been a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and in 1977 was appointed Assistant Deputy Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare.
He served in several federal positions including as Director of the Office of Systemic Programs for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education. He was appointed Associate General Counsel of the EEOC trial division. He came to MU from St. Louis, where at the time he was director of the St. Louis district office of the EEOC.
In 1997 Middleton served as the interim vice provost for minority affairs and faculty.
“Mike Middleton will allow for the healing process to take place. He has a depth of knowledge and experience as a Mizzou alum,” said Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed, a 2007 graduate of MU.
“He understands what is taking place at Mizzou now,” Reed said of Middleton, who was one of the charter members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity on the campus. “I think he is a positive move on behalf of the campus. But we do need more than a black face.”
Reed said. “We have to be working against the every day racism people are seeing whether it is on the MU campus or on the home front. A new president is an opportunity to develop Mizzou into a more inclusive university where students from different races, religious affiliations can receive the steller education that prepares them for the rigors of the world.”