New Interim UM System President has history of social change

1 year 2 months 5 days ago November 12, 2015 Nov 12, 2015 Thursday, November 12 2015 Thursday, November 12, 2015 4:40:00 PM CST in News
By: Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director Samantha Myers, KOMU 8 Reporter
Embed Code Copied

COLUMBIA - Former Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton will be the interim UM System president replacing Tim Wolfe who resigned Monday in the wake of protests over racial tensions on campus.

Middleton said, "We must confront uncomfortable societal issues that, once confronted, will make us stronger."

Hurtful, hateful actions to the community "will not be tolerated," he said.

“It is imperative that we hear all of our students and do everything we can to make them comfortable and safe in our community,” he said.

Middleton said it is an indication of racial situation in the country that he was asked during the press conference whether being African American played a role in his appointment. He said he suspects his color will be met with much criticism from the community.

"I also suspect that my color was a factor in the judgment that I was the person at this time to take this position," he said. "Color in this country is an issue that is considered, that affects many, many decisions that are made, positively and negatively. We need to understand that, accept it and get beyond it eventually.

Middleton said he has met and plans to meet again with Concerned Student 1950 to "address" the protesters demands and will do everything humanly and institutionally possible to meet them.

"I guarantee you the ones we don’t meet, we will explain why they couldn’t be met, hopefully to the satisfaction of the students," he said.

He said he understands the frustrations of students, and the recent unrest is a "learning experience" the university must move forward from with a tight focus.

He said the issue of race is centuries old; an "ugly, ugly history that permeates everything we do in our institutions in this country."

The University of Missouri is "serious" about being the university system that becomes a national leader in the matter of race relations.

“Our attention has been drawn to the magnitude of the problem," he said. "I think we’re at an opportune moment to take some giant steps forward to move this issue far beyond where it has been moved in the past, and I am committed to doing that.

Middleton graduated from MU in 1968. He was the third African-American graduate student to graduate from the MU Law School. He pursued a career in civil rights law in Washington, D.C., working as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The University of Missouri School of Law's website said Middleton had an "illustrious career" in federal government before moving into education.

"After serving as Director of the Office of Systemic Programs for the EEOC and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, he was appointed Associate General Counsel of the EEOC’s trial division," the website said.

KOMU 8 News spoke to Middleton and his wife Julie in 2013 about his role in creating social change since he came to MU in 1996. 

2013 Profile on Middleton's Impact on Black History by Micah Smith

Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton started out as an undergraduate student at MU in 1966. Although Middleton appreciates MU's diversity, this what not always the case.

"Several decades after Brown v. The Board of Education, within decades of the Lloyd Gaines case that actually happened on the University of Missouri's campus, you know it was Michael Middleton who was that guy to be admitted into the University of Missouri's Law School, to actually graduate , then go on to become the law professor," said Alpha Phi Alpha President Thomas Stovall.

MU was quite different when Middleton arrived on campus in 1966. There were less than 1,000 black students enrolled as undergraduates, there were hardly any organizations blacks could join, and the only black organization on campus was Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

"I can remember frequently getting racial epithets hurled at me out of cars passing by at night accompanied by empty beer cans and sometimes half full beer cans," said Middleton.

Middleton sought to create social change on campus, something his family had done for years while living in Mississippi.

Middleton helped form and organize the Legion of Black Collegians and became the first president of the organization. Middleton is also a founder of the Zeta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

When he decided to go to law school Middleton became the first black graduate of MU's law school. After graduating Middleton made his way to Washington D.C. and began arguing civil rights and affirmative action cases.

He remembers his very first case vividly.

"I decided that I wanted to look into suing my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi for employment discrimination of blacks and women," said Middleton. Middleton worked for the US Department of Justice during that time. His investigation created social change In Jackson Mississippi and led to the desegregation the police department, fire department, and city administration.

In 1985 Middleton returned to MU as a law professor, and remains at MU.

From sitting in Jesse Hall as a student, protesting segregation, to sitting in Jesse Hall now as Deputy Chancellor, Michael Middleton's life has come full circle. Through his actions and determination he has devoted his life to making MU and the United States a better, more accepting place.

"He has inspired so man people not only in this community but nationally and I would actually say around the world," said Middleton's Wife, Julie Middleton.

While he appreciates the compliments his friends and family give him, Middleton said he just did what he had to, to get things done.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – Concerned community members gathered at Republican U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler’s office Tuesday to protest a recent development in... More >>
3 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:58:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Higher education institutions have concern over the impact of Governor Greitens' announced budget cuts that will largely decrease... More >>
3 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:41:00 PM CST in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, filed two bills on Tuesday addressing the rise of student debt. The... More >>
3 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:35:00 PM CST in News
CARTHAGE (AP) — Authorities say a 10-year-old girl has died in a southwest Missouri shooting that appears to be accidental.... More >>
5 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:01:13 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — New Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will outline his policies on jobs, ethics, public safety and education... More >>
6 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:14:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
6 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:03:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors have filed charges against one of two men arrested following an assault at the Red Roof Inn... More >>
7 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - An MU associate teaching professor is presenting a petition to the Columbia City Council Tuesday evening on behalf... More >>
15 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:34:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Almost 50 years after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Columbia groups still... More >>
19 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:08:00 PM CST in News
SUNRISE BEACH – Buying and selling personal property privately, such as furniture, clothes and cars, is commonplace in today’s world... More >>
20 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:18:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - After a budget resolution aimed at repealing Obamacare was reached Jan. 12, groups in Missouri plan to protest... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST in News
CALIFORNIA (AP) - Central Missouri Democrats nominated an attorney who formerly worked for the Missouri Senate to run in a... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:36:00 PM CST in News
HILLSBORO (AP) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 28-year-old man died after a four-wheeler he was riding on... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:09:00 PM CST in News
NICKELVILLE (AP) - A southwest Missouri county highway is expected to be closed until Thursday as crews clean up an... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Police are investigating after a 34- year-old man was found dead outside a hospital in north... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:51:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Cafe Berlin reopened Monday for brunch, after being closed following a destructive break-in. The break-in on Saturday night... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:05:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:41:00 AM CST in News
COOPER COUNTY - Just before 5 a.m. Monday morning, the Cooper County Fire Protection District responded to a structure fire... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 8:29:00 AM CST in Top Stories
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 38°
6pm 39°
7pm 38°
8pm 36°
9pm 35°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
5:30p
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
6:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 6
5:00p
American Dad!
5:30p
American Dad!
6:00p
Family Guy

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Wall
8:00p
This Is Us
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
No Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld