Ben Trachtenberg, an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri who chaired the university’s Faculty Council from 2015 to 2017, wrote his perspective about what really happened during protests over race that consumed the campus in 2015 and the lessons that could be learned by other schools. Here, a university system spokesman offers a response to Trachtenberg’s analysis:
Professor Ben Trachtenberg is a respected faculty member of the University of Missouri’s School of Law, and his analysis is a thought-provoking portrayal of what happened at Mizzou in 2015. As Professor Trachtenberg states in his report, the issues that administrators faced at Mizzou are not unique in higher education. In the past three years, significant changes have improved the climate while leaders have responded to concerns and helped the university stay true to its values of respect, responsibility, excellence and discovery — and people are noticing.
With a record increase in freshman enrollment, a record in cash donations eclipsing MU’s $1 billion endowment mark, and restoration of state appropriations from elected officials, many schools and colleges across the country are looking at Mizzou to determine what actions were taken to change the perception of the university so quickly.
Leaders, including curators, the president, the chancellor and deans, took a proactive and engaged approach to achieve greater accountability, transparency and inclusiveness. Leaders at all levels of the university have frequent meetings with faculty, students and staff, elected officials, community leaders and citizens throughout the state of Missouri. Additionally, data and reports about university performance have been provided proactively to the campus community, public and media on issues including safety, budget and Title IX. There also is a renewed and strong commitment to collaboration and mutual respect among the curators, president, chancellor and deans to achieve the important mission of the university.
The advice and counsel from faculty leaders such as Professor Trachtenberg have helped the university make informed decisions about moving Mizzou forward, and administrators are very proud of the progress made in less than a year. MU also remains committed to diversity and inclusion of every student, faculty and staff. The diversity of race, thought, geography, sexual orientation, gender and religion will continue to enhance the learning experiences.
As a public university, the University of Missouri is committed to free speech, and the campus community has a history of engaging in respectful dialogue. MU has hosted speakers from nearly every point on the political spectrum. Every speaker who has visited campus has been able to present their viewpoints in a cordial, open and respectful format. Last year, along with the other Missouri universities, MU reaffirmed its commitment to free speech and remains dedicated to ensuring every voice has an opportunity to be heard in a respectful manner.