Melissa Click

Gonzaga has hired a professor recently involved in controversy to a one-year, non-tenure track position as lecturer in the department of communication studies.

Melissa Click was fired from University of Missouri on Feb. 25 for trying to remove a photojournalist from a student protest, organized by the black-student advocacy group Concerned Student 1950, on Nov. 9, 2015, amid racial tensions on campus. She spent 12 years at the University of Missouri.

The protests were in response to a series of racist incidents on Missouri’s campus, and resulted in the resignation of UM President Tim Wolfe on the same day.

“She was very transparent and clear about some of the events at Missouri, so there was no surprise or anything,” said recently hired Communication Studies Department Chair Jonathan Rossing, a member of the search committee. “After the national search and the screens took place, she emerged as the top candidate based on her record of teaching, scholarship.

“The committee was unanimous in deciding that she would be one of the two people to whom we offered the job.”

Click received the job at GU in late June after a three-person search committee conducted a national search. She is one of three new hires in the department and is teaching four sections of Communication and Speech this fall, an introductory communications course

“Dr. Click was hired through an extensive national search process that revealed her to be the most qualified and experienced candidate for the position,” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak said in a statement Friday. “Dr. Click has excellent recommendations for both her teaching and scholarship, which includes an extensive record of publication. We are confident she has learned much from her experiences at the University of Missouri and believe she will uphold the rigorous standards of academic excellence demanded of Gonzaga faculty and students.”

In a video of the Nov. 9 demonstration, Click called for “more muscle” in an attempt to remove journalists from the scene after escalating tensions with protesters. The incident, which occurred on UM’s Carnahan Quadrangle — public property — went viral and depicts the journalists, since identified as photojournalists Tim Tai and Mark Schierbecker, attempting to cover the protests.

The city prosecutor later brought a misdemeanor assault charge against Click on Jan. 25, 2016, for pushing Schierbecker’s camera away from the scene. The charges were dropped when she agreed to do community service. More than 100 lawmakers called for her to be fired, according to the Washington Post.

“I value my 12 years of service to the University of Missouri,” Click told the Bulletin in a drafted statement. “I learned much from the events of fall 2015 at MU and continue to use that experience to become a better teacher, scholar and community member.”

She declined to comment on whether she has or would take any legal action against the University of Missouri. She also referred any questions about the past year to her statement, adding, “I’m interested in looking forward, not back.”

In May, the American Association of University Professors found through an investigation that it was not convinced Click was fired on adequate grounds. Its study concluded that the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators “undermined the authority of both the faculty and campus administrators.”

The board rejected the AAUP’s findings.

Despite her public dismissal at Missouri, Click said she was confident that she would land a similar job as soon as she did.

“I believe that I have a strong career,” Click said. “I’ve proven myself in many areas of academia and, yeah, I was confident that I would find myself in another position.”

Click’s 12 teaching awards set her apart from other candidates, Rossing said. She received a Provost Junior Faculty Award and a student-nominated teaching award from the College of Arts and Sciences at Missouri.

“With accomplishments like that,” Rossing said, “and the narrative she spoke about and a teaching philosophy that really resonated with Gonzaga’s mission of educating undergraduate students that care for the whole person, those were really things that stood out to us.”

Click began at MU in 2003 as a visiting instructor, was appointed to a tenure-track position in 2008 and finished her Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

She publicly apologized for the incident on Nov. 10 and reportedly reached out to the two photographers to express regret over her actions.

Some six months after the termination at Missouri, Click is back in the classroom.

Growing up on the East Coast, Click said it is the first time she has lived on the West Coast. And GU presented her with a chance.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to put time and effort and have that effort be respected and rewarded,” Click said, “to put that effort back into teaching, it’s a wonderful opportunity.” 

Here is a link to the statement from the UM Board of Curators on Click’s firing.

Click’s addendum to the UM Board of Curators’ investigative report.

The AAUP’s findings

The following timeline is a compilation of events that led to the University of Missouri firing Click to her being hired at GU. The dates and events were gathered from a statement by the University of Missouri terminating Click’s employment, Click’s addendum to the report and information from an interview Friday with Dr. Click and Dr. Rossing.

Timeline

Sept. 12, 2015: Missouri Student Association President Payton Head writes a long post on Facebook in which he describes that the night before on campus a pickup truck had driven past him and repeatedly called him "the N-word." The post went viral.

Oct. 5, 2015: The Legion of Black Collegians writes that a "young man" approached the group the night before on Traditions Plaza and, when asked to leave, he responded with racial slurs.

Oct. 10, 2015: Dr. Click joins blockade of Missouri homecoming parade; confrontation with Columbia (Mo.) Police Department.  

Oct. 24, 2015: A swastika made of human feces is drawn on the wall of a bathroom in MU's Gateway Hall.

Nov. 2, 2015: MU graduate Jonathan Butler stages seven-day hunger strike to pressure President Wolfe to resign.

Nov. 5, 2015: Payton Head posted on Twitter a slideshow of racist comments made by MU students.

Nov. 5, 2015: Concerned Student 1950 canceled a protest planned to take place during the evening football game after concern for their safety.  

Nov. 7, 2015: The MU football team lends support to Concerned Student 1950 by stating it won't play again until President Wolfe resigns; MU football fans respond negatively on social media.

Nov. 8, 2015: A pickup truck flying the confederate flag drives around the tent camp on Missouri’s Carnahan Quad at night.

Nov. 9, 2015: University President Tim Wolfe resigns due to pressure over how he handled racist incidents on campus, as well as other issues. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also announced he would leave his job and shift to a different role.

Nov. 9, 2015: Click attempts to exclude people from public spaces on Carnahan Quadrangle; attempts to prohibit Tim Tai and other media from covering event; knocks MU student Mark Schierbecker's camera ajar and calls for "muscle" to remove him from area.

Nov. 10, 2015: Threats against black people are posted to the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak. One message read: "I'm going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see."

Jan. 25, 2016: City prosecutor brings charge against Click for assaulting Schierbecker.

Jan. 27, 2016: Board of Curators suspends Click and orders investigation to determine whether additional discipline is appropriate.

Jan. 28, 2016: Bryan Cave law firm commences investigation.

Feb. 4, 2016: Board of Curators schedules a meeting for Feb. 24.

Feb. 12, 2016: Bryan Cave completes investigation and provides investigative report to Click for response.

Feb. 19, 2016: Click submits addendum to investigative report.

Feb. 20, 2016: Investigative report and Click's response provided to Board of Curators.

Feb. 22, 2016: Public Notice of board meeting for Feb. 24.

Feb. 24, 2016: Board meeting and vote.

Feb. 25, 2016: Announcement of Click's firing made.

Late June/Early July 2016: Click is hired on a one-year lecturer track at Gonzaga University.

By Andy Buhler, Editor-in-Chief; email: abuhler@zagmail.gonzaga.edu; Twitter: @a_buhla.

Kiki Serantes contributed to this report.

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(19) comments

mdsman

Be careful
You will put your students on the "Do not hire form here" list

ThirteenthLetter

“She was very transparent and clear about some of the events at Missouri, so there was no surprise or anything,"

So then why did they hire her? She's a walking social justice disaster area...

Oh, wait. There we go. The most important function of a university, far more important than, you know, teaching or research, is political indoctrination. So I guess I'm surprised someone else didn't snap her up even earlier.

gary fouse

Most qualified to teach journalism? She doesn't even understand the First Amendment. What an embarrassment!

Bulldog-2013

In this one action, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak has done irreparable damage to the value of a degree from Gonzaga University and its reputation.

Her action effectively nullifies the many countless hours of hard work and dedication and dollars that alumni, faculty, staff and students have put into the university over the last several decades. This is now national news, and don't kid yourself that this will not affect the value of your diploma.

I can see Gonzaga sticking its reputation on the line for someone deserving, but to hire an uncontrite intolerant person who's research and views are at best antithetical to basic Christian values is simply wrong and a terrible decision that will affect all of Gonzaga.

I do not blame her for trying to get a job, I do blame the Dean for hiring her. What are Dean's values? Is she a good fit for Gonzaga?

That I am in financial debt (paying off tuition) to a school that pays Click's salary is sickening.

oldzag

Not a good decision by our university.

We have been working for years improve our image and to get positive national recognition --this is not the way to do it.

The incidents at Missouri have cost the school a 2,600 enrollment decline this year and I expect the hire will impact enrollment here (not in a positive way)-- and also have a fund raising and donation impact.

I will let Gonzaga know how I feel by witholding my yearly donation this year --hope they get the message and make it right sooner rather than later.

oldstudent

This is shocking. I remember this at the time. She assaulted a student. A faculty member. In communication. She does not deserve this position nor do Gonzaga students deserve her. She proved she is not fit. Gonzaga what have you done to YOUR reputation.

GU '70

So, she was the top candidate "based on her record of teaching, scholarship". What about civil conduct? Doesn't that count at GU anymore?

I am very disappointed in GU leadership and will vote with my check book. The next phone call from GU, I will explain no, because of Click.

Long time GU supporter

joseph

Andy Buhler - How about a follow up article on the recruitment process for Ms. Click? Does Gonzaga usually do a "national search" for non-tenure track lecturers? What is a national search as defined by the university? Did they do fly-back interviews? How common is this for a non-tenure track lecturer position? Did Ms. Click randomly apply for this or did someone in the Department suggest her? What have they done in the past in this department as to national searches and lecturer positions? Who was involved in the recruitment of Ms. Click? Did the Dean of A & S expect any public opinion backlash from this hire?

From the article “The committee was unanimous in deciding that she would be one of the two people to whom we offered the job” this indicates that there were two candidates that were chosen by the committee. Was Ms. Click the first choice or the second choice? Is this one-year appointment in a non-tenure track instructor position a "look see" that could turn into a tenure track position? The Chair of the Department (who was reportedly on the search committee) started at Gonzaga back in July, did he have any thoughts about this hire as one of the his first acts? Did he expect some fall out from the hire?

In other articles on this subject, reportedly the Dean of A & S and the Chair of the Department stated that Ms. Click's prior actions really had no bearing on the decision to hire Ms. Click. If that is the case, are there any circumstances where a faculty recruitment committee would consider a faculty candidate's behavior? What if a candidate called minority students racially or ethnically derogatory slur? Are there any situations where the candidate's behavior is taken into account and how is that different here? Ms. Click was eventually charged with a misdemeanor stemming from the incident on the University of Missouri's campus which was eventually dismissed conditioned upon completion of community service. Do faculty recruitment committees ever look at criminal behavior or records for faculty members? Are there any conditions to Ms. Click's employment contract?

oldzag

"Some people are saying" that we have also reached out to this potential employee who is also seeking employment to see if she needs a 2nd chance.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/hungary-charges-camerawoman-accused-of-tripping-fleeing-migrants/ar-AAiAKYj

ZagParent

Jonathan Rossing, Communication Studies Department Chair

"We didn’t really factor much of the past in. Of course, I have to say, we knew about it.It was not something that was hidden. What we focused on was Dr. Click’s record as a teacher"

Really Dr. Rossing, you don't "really factor in" a history of assaulting students, advocating the violent removal of students and reporters from a place they have every right to be, and attempting to deny 1st amendment rights to students when vetting a potential candidate to teach communication courses at Gonzaga? Is this a part of the Gonzaga ethos? What is next, not really factoring in a history of sexual assault when hiring an RA or an RD?

I realize that the recent $50,000,000 influx of donation money makes my several thousand contribution seem trivial, but Gonzaga won't be seeing anything above tuition from me in the future.

FormerIDZag

Out of all the eminently qualified candidates, THIS is the one they trot out as the preferred candidate? Surely there had to have been more student-focused candidates with fascinating research agendas and Jesuit-aligned teaching philosophies. Perhaps their heads are so buried in the articles on her CV that the search committee failed to recognize that there are much more important qualities to a faculty member, such as their ability to connect with students in the classroom and create a lasting bond between student, content, and the institution.

I'll join the cacophony of others who have stated that this decision presents serious issues for maintaining Gonzaga's reputation and that it begins with personal concerns over the value of the degree I will be paying off for the rest of my natural life. I'll also state that the communication program has fallen a LONG way since the days of Bud Hazel.

ValueLiberty

Of all the candidates available, the University chose one who was charged with assaulting a student? A candidate which chose to violently imped a student from exercising his First Amendment rights?

Her lack of judgement was a public relations black eye for Mizzou which led to her dismissal.

Surely a better candidate was available.

jbwilson24

"I’ve proven myself in many areas of academia"

This woman is totally delusional. Her publication record is pathetic for someone of her years of experience. A few mediocre papers in mediocre journals, sometimes as third author. Even a law professor manages to pump out a paper every year or two. It is no wonder that she was never promoted beyond the first stage of the tenure track ladder. In the last four years her 'scholarship' amounts to virtually nothing, and this is a weak field (unlike physics, neuroscience, game theory, linguistics, etc).

DrJayCampbell

One should look closely at Jonathan Rossing. His goal is to tear as many young people away from their fundamental beliefs as he can. He is a socialist, period. Look at his history. He was thrilled to promote Ms. Click. His life's work, to date is to produce as many progessive, democrat voters as he possibly can. My daughter has nearly turned away from our belief system after taking the freshman classes of communication. What classes does Melissa Click teach? Freshman communication. Congratulations, Jon and Melissa! Against what most of us parents wish, you have horned your way in.

DrJayCampbell

“Dr. Click was hired through an extensive national search process that revealed her to be the most qualified and experienced candidate for the position,” Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak said in a statement Friday. “Dr. Click has excellent recommendations for both her teaching and scholarship, which includes an extensive record of publication. We are confident she has learned much from her experiences at the University of Missouri and believe she will uphold the rigorous standards of academic excellence demanded of Gonzaga faculty and students.”

I recently posted a comment and it was not posted. Why?

It followed all the rules. Another way Gonzaga is censoring opinion?
This woman, Ms. Click is not qualified. Her belief system is not in alignment with Gonzaga's values. Further, Jonathan and Elisabeth should lose their jobs over this debacle. Gonzaga's enrollment will suffer terribly. Probably worse than Mizzou's enrollment this year, due to Ms. Click's anti-constitutional socialist behavior.

Bar-L

Dr Click said in an interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education that she was fired because “This is all about racial politics, I’m a white lady. I’m an easy target.” The department she is in certainly seems to contain a lot of ‘white ladies’, but doesn’t seem to have any black people. This makes me wonder whether any ‘black ladies’ were considered for the position she was given at Gonzaga (after a ‘nationwide search’)? And if not, why not?

bulldog101

Sadly, I am thinking, this might be Gonzaga's next hire.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/09/21/flag-stomping-teacher-has-no-regrets-wants-student-punished.html

GU '70

Would be nice to hear from the President, or is this too messy for his involvement? "When in charge, take charge" my ROTC Professor at GU told me 50 years ago. Guess we don't have anyone at GU assuming responsibility for this debacle and
leadership apparently means nothing to the administration.

GU2006

The Dean of Arts and Sciences, Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak and the Vice Dean Patricia Terry, Interim Chair of the Department of Communication for academic year 2015-2016, are ultimately responsible for this situation. I doubt that the newly hired Chair of Communication had a lot to do with this hiring. This kind of situation is very representative of the work that the Dean of Arts and Sciences and her collaborators have been doing since arriving to Gonzaga. A work, which following corporative principles, disregards real dialogue with faculty members and takes over complete units (like the Department of Communication) when they do not work exactly the way she wants. Nobody is going to assume responsibility because to do so would compromise the core cynical principles of this customer-pleasing new Gonzaga run by people such as Dean Elisabeth, only focused on efficiency, on numbers, and on silencing faculty members' voices, but always talking about social justice to sell the product that Gonzaga is becoming. Sad times for education and free speech.

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