Days after Tom Wolfe resigned as president of the University of Missouri System in response to student protests surrounding his inaction on issues impacting students of color, Michael A. Middleton has been appointed as interim president. The post is effective immediately. Middleton, who is black, formerly served as the deputy chancellor for the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“Mike Middleton is the best person to lead the system during this critical period of transition, with 30 years of leadership experience on the MU campus and past service as a civil rights attorney,” said Donald Cupps, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, in an official statement. “Mike’s outstanding managerial skills and knowledge of the UM System and its four campuses, make him the leader we need to advance our university system forward.”

Middleton earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri system, going on to work as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, director of the Office of Systemic Programs at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and principal deputy assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. He returned to the university in 1985 as a law professor before holding the deputy chancellor post for 17 years. He also co-chairs Missouri’s new Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness.

“I am honored to accept the appointment as interim president of the UM System, and lead our state’s premiere university during this extraordinary time,” Middleton said in a statement. “The time has come for us to acknowledge and address our daunting challenges, and return to our relentless adherence to the University of Missouri’s mission to discover, disseminate, preserve and apply knowledge.”

In other campus news, the sign for the school’s Gaines-Oldham Black Culture Center was defaced early Thursday morning. Someone used pray paint to cover the word “black.” The sign was promptly cleaned.

 

(H/t Columbia Tribune)