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Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee calls for Wolfe to step down

Rep. Steve Cookson
Rep. Steve Cookson

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Butler County, chairman of the Missouri House Committee on Higher Education, has become one of the first lawmakers to call for the resignation of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe.

Cookson’s statement outlines a multitude of problems the system has had in the past few months and ends with a call for Wolfe to resign, the board of curators to act, or the governor and General Assembly to intercede.

“All of these problems stem from the University of Missouri system slipping behind over the last few years in everything from faculty productivity, to fiscal health of several of the colleges, to national rankings,” Cookson stated in a release. “Since April 8, the system has made national headlines for failing to protect the safety of female students on campus, the St. Louis campus purchasing a golf course weeks before announcing budget cuts, a failed attempt to build a third hospital in Columbia in the face of massive local opposition, a bungled handling of encouraging professors to run for state office, a now cancelled agreement with Planned Parenthood to facilitate abortions, the president of the System’s callous reaction to racial sensitivity issues which he has now apologized for, a highly embarrassing failed attempted firing of the Columbia campus chancellor, and now the events of this weekend.

“After all of this, it has become clear that the MU system leadership can no longer effectively lead and should step aside. Failing that the University of Missouri system board of curators should force a change in leadership. Failing this common sense approach it will be incumbent for the Governor and the General Assembly to take the appropriate steps to protect this important public asset.”

His statement was followed by a statement from Rep. Caleb Jones (R – Boone County), who said, “The lack of leadership Mizzou has been dealing with for months has finally reached the point of being a national embarrassment.  It’s time for a change in leadership and start the healing process.”

Cookson, a lifelong educator and former board member of a higher education institution was elected in 2010 and has been a chairman of education committees for the past three sessions.

Wolfe has come under near constant fire over the past seven months. He was hired to the position in 2012 after leaving a career in the computer industry.

UPDATED: With comments from Rep. Caleb Jones.