The University of Missouri has a new interim president. Michael Middleton, 68, will replace Tim Wolfe, who resigned Monday under pressure from students who criticized his administration’s response to a series of racial incidents. “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. “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.”
According to NBCNews, Middleton has quite a history with the University. He not only was the third black student to graduate from Mizzou’s law school, he was also it’s deputy chancellor for 17 years as well as a law professor. He had career in civil rights law in Washington, D.C., working as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, among other government posts.
What is even more interesting is as an undergraduate, Middleton was a founder of the Legion of Black Collegians, the activist student group that participated in the protests that led to this week’s back-to-back resignations. Protest leaders from the group Concerned Students 1950, which was named for the year Missouri admitted its first back student, included some of the unmet demands Middleton helped create as a civil rights and anti-war protester.
Is it any surprise that with his long career of race activism and expertise in the field, that Middleton was chosen as the interim president of the University of Missouri or that he worked as a political activist with the protestors who forced out his predecessor? Right Wing News doesn’t think so. RWN reports that in October Middleton was featured prominently with the black campus race activists in a video they released titled, “Response to Skeptics.” In fact, Middleton and Jonathan Butler, the millionaire’s kid and underprivileged hunger striker, made the video together.
Breitbart reports Thursday that after Butler opens the video, Middleton appears, to insist there is a race-relations problem because race-activists say there is a race-relations problem.
“How can anyone deny there’s a race relations issue on this campus? Are they not listening to the people who are saying their is? Are they calling all these people liars? That’s as bad as calling all of them racist? This is a problem because a huge part of our community agrees that it’s a problem.”
Middleton has an impressive resume when it comes to the race-relations sector. After serving as Director of the Office of Systemic Programs for the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, he was appointed Associate General Counsel of the EEOC’s trial division. He returned to his alma mater from St. Louis, where he was director of the St. Louis district office of the EEOC. Beginning in 1997 he served as the Interim Vice Provost for Minority Affairs and Faculty Development for the University of Missouri. In 1998 he accepted the position of Deputy Chancellor.
The question is, is he a good choice for the University as a whole or is he a plant to further the agenda of Concerned Students 1950? With other major schools falling in behind Mizzou, it will be interesting how it all plays out.