Wolfe Criticizes UM System Curators, Loftin in Confidential Email to University Supporters

Kasia Kovacs, Missourian, January 27, 2016

In a letter to prominent supporters, former University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe lashed out at curators who tried to “dig up dirt,” at a chancellor who made a mess of MU and then manipulated blame on Wolfe, and at an athletics director and football coach who “threw gasoline on a small fire.”

Wolfe resigned in November without conditions. In the letter, he makes clear he wants money as part of the separation.

He wrote that he’d made proposals to the UM System Board of Curators and attempted to hash out differences through mediation, to no avail.

“All negotiations with the board have stopped and I’m left with the options of either accepting a small fraction of the total compensation that I could have made if I had stayed through the end of my contract, or to litigate which would involve going public with the reasons as to why I was the target of Concerned Student 1950,” Wolfe wrote.

Concerned Student 1950 is a student activist group formed in the fall to raise awareness of racial tensions on campus and protest a perceived lack of response from the administration to racially charged incidents and discrimination.

{snip}

Wolfe’s letter was emailed Jan. 19 to all the members of the “Missouri 100,” a group of prominent UM System supporters, and other supporters. On Jan. 21, it was forwarded to administration officials in the four campus system. Interim Chancellor Hank Foley distributed it to his staff; it has been circulated among legislators in the General Assembly. The Missourian received the letter Wednesday.

{snip}

Wolfe also alleged that the reason student protesters’ criticism focused on Wolfe was Loftin’s doing–once the former chancellor felt that his job was in danger in late September, Loftin began shifting the focus of student protest group Concerned Student 1950 to Wolfe.

“That is completely false,” said Ayanna Poole, a Concerned Student 1950 organizer. “Loftin didn’t in any way influence our motivation behind things. We had already shifted to Wolfe on our own because Wolfe had more power to make that systemic change happen on the university’s campus.”

Loftin also denied Wolfe’s claim. “Our students are highly intelligent, and I have a deep respect for them. To think that I could manipulate them in any way is unbelievable,” he said.

The former president’s motivation to resign was largely because of safety concerns, Wolfe said. The UM System called upon diversity and inclusion consulting experts after officials learned about a “pending event” on Nov. 9, the day Wolfe resigned.

According to Wolfe, the consulting experts “along with the FBI, Missouri Highway Patrol, Columbia Police Department and MU Campus police were aware of a significant Ferguson protester” and a threat that more protesters were arriving at campus that day.

Wolfe’s letter “reinforced his fear of black people or this idea that people that come from Ferguson are angry without reasoning,” Poole said.

{snip}

Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said on Wednesday his department “was made aware via intelligence sources that people who were significantly involved in the Ferguson, Missouri, protests” as well as protesters from outside Boone County might be coming to join the MU protests. He said the information was shared with Columbia Police in case MU Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol needed support in providing security on campus.

{snip}

Wolfe also criticized Missouri athletics director Mack Rhoades, Pinkel and Loftin for failing to communicate with system officials as football players announced a boycott Nov. 7 until graduate student Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike.

On Nov. 9, Pinkel tweeted a photo of the team, including white players and coaches, saying “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950 GP.”

Wolfe announced his resignation hours later amid national attention. In his letter, he wrote, “The football team’s actions were the equivalent of throwing gasoline on a small fire. Coach Pinkel missed an important opportunity to teach his players a valuable life lesson.”

Wolfe suggested that the university might lose $25 million in tuition and fees in the upcoming academic year, as well as up to $500 million in state funding. This is a much worse consequence than the $1 million penalty that the university would have been required to pay for missing a game against Brigham Young University, Wolfe wrote.

The $25 million figure Wolfe cites is in line with current UM System officials’ estimates of lost tuition and fees for next year. MU Chief Operations Officer Gary Ward told Regional Economic Development Inc. board members earlier this month that the university expects enrollment to drop by as many as 900 students next year, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. Interim UM System President Michael Middleton told the Tribune that the university could lose between $20 million to $25 million in tuition and fees as a result.

{snip}

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.