Tim Wolfe resigns from University of Missouri in wake of protests

1 year 8 months 2 weeks ago November 09, 2015 Nov 9, 2015 Monday, November 09 2015 Monday, November 09, 2015 10:22:00 AM CST in News
By: Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director and Amber Smith, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe, who has been the focus of intense criticim in the midst of racial tensions on MU's campus, announced Monday he is resigning.

"The frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don't doubt it for a second" he said. "I take full responsiblity for this frustration." (Watch full video of Wolfe’s announcement.)

He encouraged students and staff to use it as a changing point.

"Please, please use my resignation to heal."

Just Sunday, Wolfe released a statement that made no mention of resigning, saying, "I am dedicated to ongoing dialogue to address these very complex, societal issues as they affect our campus community."

Students have been protesting a series of racist incidents on campus, including several instances in which people shouted the n-word at black students.

The turning point for Wolfe seemed to come when protesters locked arms in from his car at the homecoming parade Oct. 10. He made no response while students talked about their personal experiences with racism.

Wolfe remained silent until Nov. 2, when he told KOMU 8 News had not wanted to make a public statement while he was processing the complex issues involved and that listening to the students had opened his mind.

Then, in a statement Friday he issued an apology and said it was "long overdue."

"My behavior seemed like I did not care," he said. "That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment."

The protests led to a hunger strike by student Jonathan Butler and a strike by the Mizzou Football team. Letters of support for ConcernedStudent1950 poured in from student groups, staff and alumni.

Butler announced the end of his hunger strike shortly after Wolfe annnounced his resignation.

MU Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Garnett Stokes released a statement that said, in part: 

"Our students have and need the support of faculty as the campus moves forward with the process of healing and as the work of cultural change continues. Support is also available to our students through MU Student Health and the MU Counseling Center. 

Let us all continue to learn together. We encourage faculty to work with students regarding scheduled assignments, quizzes, tests and exams. The Office of the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative offers resources for faculty who need assistance. 

Our students have shown great courage in their efforts to bring change to our institution, and their hard work and the support of the MU community, including our wonderful Mizzou faculty, give me great hope for the future we will create together."

Gov. Jay Nixon released this statement:

“Tim Wolfe’s resignation was a necessary step toward healing and reconciliation on the University of Missouri campus, and I appreciate his decision to do so,” Gov. Nixon said. “There is more work to do, and now the University of Missouri must move forward – united by a commitment to excellence, and respect and tolerance for all.  The University of Missouri is an outstanding institution that will continue to play a vital role in our efforts to provide a world-class education to every Missouri student.” 

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