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MIZZOU PRESIDENT RESIGNS: Under fire over racial angst, widespread pressure prompts Wolfe to bow out

"Time to heal, not hate"

COLUMBIA, Mo 11/9/15 (Beat Byte)  -- Under fire for weeks over outbursts of racism on the Mizzou campus, University of Missouri (UM) president Tim Wolfe (left) has resigned effective immediately.

Calling it "the right thing to do," Wolfe made the announcement at a meeting of the UM Board of Curators Monday morning.    It's time "to heal, not hate," he emphasized. 

Wolfe has served under a cloud of controversy since 2012, ultimately reversing an unpopular decision to close the University of Missouri Press.  

Localized scuffles with Mizzou Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin over Planned Parenthood and graduate student health insurance only added to his administrative woes. 
 
Students, staff, and faculty from all racial and ethnic groups had expressed increasing outrage over a surface phenomena that indicated deeper, more intractable problems:   N-word laden slurs, racist social media posts, graffiti, and public belittling.  

Together with police officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo; a recent onslaught of law enforcement-related incidents in black communities; and the growing sense leaders and administrators were only paying lip service to the need for change, the pressure on Wolfe -- whose tepid responses fueled campus anger -- culminated in widespread demands for his resignation. 

Two seminal incidents -- slurs yelled at Payton Head, the popular and widely-respected leader of the Missouri Student Association; and a hunger strike Mizzou grad student Jonathan Butler started a week ago -- pushed the movement for racism's eradication far beyond Mizzou's black student population. 

Word the Mizzou football team was boycotting future games in support, with the imprimatur of Coach Gary Pinkel; politicians calling for the president's resignation; and the eyes of virtually every national and even international news organization on a small tent city devoted to the cause in the middle of campus sealed Wolfe's fate.    

Wolfe adopted a more introspective tone on his departure that contrasted with earlier responses many found tone deaf and aloof.    He would not get out of his car to meet protestors during the Mizzou Homecoming Parade, who claimed he ignored previous requests to meet in his office.   To protestors in Kansas City, Wolfe seemed to blame black students for their own disenfranchisement.
 
“We didn’t respond or react," he said today.   "We got frustrated with each other, and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take unusual steps to effect change.   This is not...the way change should come about." 
 
In a striking irony, social media posts about the situation have helped prove the point of ConcernedStudent1950, the Mizzou campus group leading the effort to remove Wolfe and reform racial attitudes.  

Under the guise of anonymity, vicious slurs and demeaning comments have ruled the pixel-waves across the nation, chiding the Mizzou football team for its refusal to play, and criticizing the students for being immature wimps unable to take "minor" slights and belittlement. 
 
"There is more work to do, and now the University of Missouri must move forward," Governor Jay Nixon said, in the wake of Wolfe's departure.  
 
 
 
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