COLUMBIA, Mo. – The resignation of Tim Wolfe from his position as the University of Missouri system reached media outlets across the globe. After weeks of campus activism calling for his removal due to his lack of action to make the campus more racially inclusive, Wolfe finally stepped down, meeting the first in the list of demands of Concerned Student 1950, the student group at the heart of the protests.
Wolfe set off a firestorm across Missouri with politicians from across the state weighing in. Gov. Jay Nixon released a statement almost immediately after Wolfe stepped down.
“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. 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.”
“The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus stands in solidarity with University of Missouri students in demanding long overdue action to address racial bias on campus, and we are disheartened that administrators were slow in treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves. The resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe demonstrates that leaders who ignore injustice or cling to the status quo do so at their own peril.“We can no longer allow institutionalized racism to endure anywhere in Missouri. It is the solemn duty of everyone in a position of authority to identify and eradicate racial injustice.”
Republican Columbia representative Caleb Rowden also weighed in on Wolfe’s decision, echoing much of what Nixon said.
“I applaud President Wolfe for making a very difficult personal decision today that was ultimately in the best interest of the University of Missouri System and our flagship campus here in Columbia… We live in a country that values freedom of speech and freedom of association; we will always face disagreements amongst ourselves. As good citizens we are called to engage those with whom we disagree in civil debate and informed dialogue…. As a Mid-Missouri elected official, I am willing to do whatever I can to facilitate a path forward.”
Attorney General Chris Koster unwittingly echoed the words of Concerned Student 1950 by signalling his hopes that this action marks a change in how the university operates.
“I support today’s decision by Tim Wolfe, but this step is a beginning and not an end. My hope is that the University of Missouri Board of Curators creates a process by which incidents can be reported and investigated in a manner that has credibility within the student body. It is important that our flagship university learns from and is made better by this experience.”
Assistant House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, focused on what should come next for the university as well.
“With the resignation of UM System President Tim Wolfe, it is the duty of the Board of Curators to take immediate action to address the concerns of minority students. Inaction and indifference is what brought us to this point. The curators must not repeat that mistake. Instead, the curators should consider this an opportunity to make substantive changes to the university’s culture to ensure equality and respect for all students.”