Ten Ethics Observations On The Resignation Of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe


…for nothing, as far as I can see, except being in the wrong job when an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum by some of the black students got out of control.


1. I have searched and searched for a substantive reason for the upheaval. There is apparently nothing there. The university, the education of students and two men’s career’s (the University’s Chancellor has also been forced to resign) have all been disrupted, and for no good reason, except that some students decided it was a good time to grandstand. This makes the entire episode unjust by definition.

How ironic it is supposed to be about “justice.”

2. The main driver of events was graduate student Jonathan Butler, who started a hunger strike to force Wolfe to resign”for justice.” Given a chance to explain his position by the Washington Post, he had nothing definitive or constructive to offer, just vague dissatisfaction:

“I’m saying, even if you can’t really understand systemic oppression and systemic racism, is the fact we can’t be at a university where we have values like “Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence” and we don’t have any of those things being enacted on campus, especially in terms of respect. I’m on a campus where people feel free to call people the n-word, where people feel free as recently as last week, to used [their] own feces to smear a swastika in a residential hall. Everything that glitters is not gold. We really need to dig deep and be real with ourselves about the world we live in and understand that we’re not perfect but understand that just because we’re not perfect doesn’t mean we don’t start to understand and address the issues around us.”

Right. Some kids in a car that may not have been students and another individual on campus who has not been identified used  racial epithets. Some mentally deficient person, also unidentified, drew a swastika on campus using human excrement. (This type of incident tends to be a hoax  as often as not.) What exactly is the president of a university supposed to do about such things ? Wolfe mandated “sensitivity courses” for everyone on campus, which is already too much. I would refuse to attend. I would not respect anyone who did attend.

Heck, I might start a hunger strike.

It works.

3. Butler’s  first answer would have caused me to stop reading if I wasn’t writing this post:

“But when you talk about most recently on campus, in terms of protesting and mobilizing communities, that really came from my experience organizing during Ferguson, after the murder of Mike Brown.”

Mike Brown wasn’t murdered. If someone insists he was, in contradiction of all known facts and Justice Department findings, then that person isn’t worthy of respect or attention. Yet at this university, at this time, in this climate of manufactured grievances,  this particular someone is allowed to overturn the leadership of the institution.

4. Wolfe’s public statement yesterday was appallingly weak and surrendered his authority by characterizing students putting a metaphorical gun to his head as “thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns.” Butler was right when he said elsewhere in his Post interview that leadership at Missouri was weak, all right. Butler’s definition of  strong leadership, however, is “someone who asks ‘How high?’ when campus African-Americans say “Jump!”

5. Holding a university hostage by threatening suicide should be grounds for immediate expulsion. Every university should immediately put such a policy in place, and any that does not is irresponsible.

6. Wolfe’s statements today, in resigning, were pathetic. “This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation,” he said. “Use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”

This is not the way change should come about, so I’m making sure that your tactics are successful.


7. Chancellor Lofton, who was also forced out and whose demise is an example of the right result happening for the wrong reasons, actually praised Butler. “I want to acknowledge his extraordinary courage and leadership,” Loftin said about Butler. “A very tough, tough young man, a very focused young man, a very intelligent and forward-looking young man, so we owe him a lot.”

This  young man is destroying the university because he is angry that the police officer who shot Mike Brown wasn’t tried for a crime he didn’t commit, so he exercises his extraordinary leadership to punish Missouri’s administrator for isolated events they couldn’t have stopped. “We owe him a lot.”

8. Football coach Gary Pinkel tweeted in support of the boycott of the team’s games by some players,

“The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.”

This man works for the university at an obscene salary and is assisting in a mutiny against his employers. Why does he still have a job? Now the institution is being dictated to by its football squad and coach. I supposed Pinkel’s an extraordinary leader too. That statement will be coming soon.

9. Naturally, the University is now grovelling to the students, with a nauseating list of diversity measures that will, as they have everywhere else, translate into hiring employees qualified only by their race, increasing tuition to pay for layers and layers of race-biased bureaucracy, and the inevitable speech codes, with minority students and women being given the power of Salem’s accusers to destroy with a point and a rumor.

10. Would it have been better if Wolfe stayed and did the right thing (He said today that he was doing what was “right” by stepping aside) by opposing this Bizarro World version of justice? In one sense, yes: he at least would have made a case for order, sanity, and the duty not to submit to fanatics and bullies. In another, maybe not. He obviously lacked the skills to resist the chaos. All he would have accomplished is a longer battle, more nonsense, more bitterness and the same eventual result.

Now watch the dominoes fall, across the country. I will await the first Democrat or liberal pundit who has the courage to call this what it is: an unethical, destructive power play based on race.

This is going to be ugly, and I don’t expect it to stop with college campuses.


Sources: Washington Post, Althouse, CNN

91 thoughts on “Ten Ethics Observations On The Resignation Of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe

  1. Well, President Wolfe wimped out. Maybe he was afraid that Al Sharpton might show up on campus with his cronies and cause him no end of problems. I can remember the day that S.I. Hayakawa pulled the plug on the SDS and Black Panther thugs microphone on campus during their demonstration which attempted to shut down U.C. Berkeley. Oh for a university president that has a pair!

  2. Third, the team’s protest threatened immediate economic damage to the university. This is perhaps the biggest issue at play. A contract between Missouri and BYU obtained by the Kansas City Star reveals that cancellation on the part of the Tigers would result in a $1 million fine to be paid to BYU within 30 days of the cancellation.

    During an emergency meeting on Monday, the university’s Board of Curators demanded that Wolfe resign.

    • I thought this potential loss of revenue from football might have something to do with his resignation. I didn’t know about a $1Million fine.

      • Parenthetically, it seems to me that many US colleges are basically lucrative sports teams, with logistics support in the form of limited education facilities to keep up appearances and obey the legal formalities.

        I wonder how long it will be before some college teams drop the vestigial appendage of professors and so on, outsourcing those ancillary functions to specialist corporations, and concentrating on their core business.

      • In the span of less than a week? With no coaching staff? And “players” who aren’t physically prepared to literally get crushed in a game that, a week ago, they had no idea they’d be playing in?

        Plus, do you remember the terrible treatment that “scabs” in the NFL and MLB received when players crossed the picket line (in the 80’s and 90’s)? With social media, the vitriol aimed at those new recruits would likely exceed the pain they’d leave the field with.

        • Practical issues related to standing a chance of winning aside: you absolutely do what Ejercito suggests.

          You have a band of subordinates so selfish and misguided they will actively undermine you?

          Fire them and find people who WANT to be part of the organization.

          • No, no, Im all about not letting the football team hold the university hostage. But my objections weren’t related to winning; they were related to actually being able to field a team in that short period of time, as well as preventing these new “athletes” from getting hurt. Plus, you literally would not be able to call plays as no coach = no playbook (no coach is just going to hand over his playbook to a walk-on coach). This is assuming that there’d even be a way to get, at a minimum, 40 new players. And get their physicals done. And uniform/pad sized up. And go through all the preseason crap (like concussion baseline testing) that’s mandatory, before you can set foot on field.

            Sorry to get all football nerdy here. Im as mad as the next guy that the hold-your-breath tactic worked, but it was either the team play, or forfeit; there’s no logistical way to field a team in less than a week.

            • Would it have been an entirely new team? No doubt the new guys would be very inexperienced and very unassimilated into the team. No doubt the new coach would be playing the earliest games from scratch. No doubt they’d lose a lot.

              But it’s not like they’d be recruiting Johnny Pipsqueak from the debate club. Nor would they fire the *entire* team. There wouldn’t even be a need to fire every single protestor. Mutinies are punished, leaders first, then secondary leaders, then tertiary, until the mutiny breaks.

              Good chance a fringe amount of mutineers can be brought back into the fold (of course will need to receive some form of punishment), and then lower ranking members of the team are promoted to the top of the roster.

              It’s not like Sweeney Peabody from the Chess Club would be hiking the first ball of the game and clobbered as the defense heads to the quarterback.

              Just saying… Organizations CAN scramble in emergencies fairy well. Not saying they’d be successful in the least. But some battles *have* to be fought despite likelihood of loss.

  3. I see where the now former head of all the University of Missouri campuses is a thirty year IBM sales guy and VP and a former head of a software company. He has an undergraduate business degree from Missouri. Clearly an outsider. I strongly suspect, as Jack has suggested, this was a non-academic outsider brought in to bring down costs who was taken out by angry, vindictive faculty and administrators. Why else would faculty be so supportive? Maybe even the football coach and the AD had it in for this guy who probably figured he’d made a mistake trying to help out at his alma mater. I bet the Chancellor who also bailed was the former president’s guy. Vicious.

    • If it has been a big witch hunt to root out someone seeking efficiency and reduction of wasteful spending, then I’m all the more eager to watch Missouri collapse and let nature handle the firing of those vindictive teachers in a far more painful manner than would have been through a controlled reduction of waste.

      Shadenfreude to follow.

      • Will be interesting to see how it shakes out. The mainstream media acts as if he was a villain who has been run off by brave students storming the barricades.

        • “The mainstream media acts as if he was a villain who has been run off by brave students storming the barricades.”

          Of course! But then again, that sentence fits the formula:

          “Knee jerk Left-wingers support knee-jerk left wing movement.”

          The media will never report on this accurately. Even the ones backtracking because of the open dishonesty of this story, I think are just trying to cover themselves.

  4. I’m not sure this is the first. The first was UNC Chapel Hill. Why were the athletes allowed to take their joke classes, have their grades changed, and no one did anything about it? Because it was the African and Afro-American Studies Department that did it. If anyone had complained, the AFAM department would have had their students protest and claim racism was behind the accusations. Remember, the investigation found that the AFAM gave no preferential treatment to athletes, they treated all students in the department that way. Any complaint about the lack of learning in the department would most definitely be met with accusations of racism. The UNC-Chapel Hill had a lot of experience with this in the battle over the student’s demand for a Black Cultural Center and the University was forced to go against their own written policy to cave to those demands. The University caved to the academic misconduct as well and when the conduct was made public, it cost the administration their jobs.

    Now we have Mizzou, which has capitulated to the same forces without a fight. We should expect an even worse outcome.

  5. Funny enough, they’ve already alienated their liberal patrons by turning on the media and physically expelling the media from the campus when they tried to interview the protesters.

  6. So the group is called “Concerned Student 1950” for the year black students were first admitted. Let’s say that student graduated in 1955 and she married and had a child in 1957. Let’s say that child matriculated at the University of Missouri in 1975 and graduated in 1980. He married in 1983 and had a child in 1985. That child would have matriculated in 2003 and she would have graduated in 2008, maybe married and had a baby girl in 2010 who’s now five years old. So the fourth generation of this family would be ready to matriculate at her great grandmother’s university, as had her grandfather and mother, in 2028, thirteen short years from now. Sixty five years is a long time.

  7. For me, this highlights why universities need to get out of sports. The major lesson to be learned here is that the faculty of every university is held hostage by its sports programs and the alumni that demand it. Get out of the sports business and get in the business of education.

    • What what?

      the major lesson? I thinks it a side lesson of great import. But please…that isn’t the material cause of this ethics trainwreck…

      No, the major issue here isn’t college sports.

      • Tex, it doesn’t matter WHAT the issue is if a popular sports team threatens to boycott. Sports = money. If a football team refuses to play until the cafeteria serves a different type of frozen yogurt, then the cafeteria is going to serve that frozen yogurt. Trust me, the President wouldn’t have resigned if the college choir threatened to pull its winter concert.

        • So, in other words, Beth, just for the record, you’re absolutely fine with everything that’s transpired except for the annoying fact that football team got involved and the trustees didn’t want to lose face and money because of having to forfeit a game.

          • Sure — that’s exactly what I mean! Are you insane? Should I infer something more from the charming “grow a pair” chain above? I’mI making a single comment on the insidious nature of big money being involved with big education. I’m not endorsing the reason why the football team boycotted.

            • “I’m not endorsing the reason why the football team boycotted.”

              Thank you for clarifying that, Beth. It sure sounded as if you were to me. No, I’m not insane.

        • I neglected to raise this issue, because it is separate; thanks for raisng it (and I’m not sure why everyone is jumping all over you.) If a football team can hijack school leadership like this, then the school’s priorities and balance sheet is badly out of whack.

          Boy, football is a corrosive force in the US. Worse and worse.

          • They are jumping all over me because an acknowledged liberal made the comment. The peanut gallery here leans heavily to the right. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a male, “acknowledged conservative” alias here just to conduct my own social experiment. It’s tiring to comment here when you know — immediately — what the replies will be.

              • I know of at least one female commenter here who is perceived to be male, but she has never corrected them. Hey, if everybody does it, right? 😉

              • Wait what?


                First of all, “Everyone jumping on” Beth consisted of me and Other Bill.

                Second of all, I clearly didn’t gripe at Beth’s actual assertions, and in fact agreed with them, except for one structural part, which though a singular word, makes a huge difference in precisely what I stated: That I am surprised at her assessment of “THE major lesson here”. So there’s hardly been an ignoring of the “message” because of the messenger, quite the contrary, there is more or less alarm at what appears to be an active disregard on the messengers’ part.

                Third of all, as long as words have meaning, while forgiving understandable typos, then the comment made is telling of Beth’s value system. If it isn’t, she falls into the a trap of the same flavor as Ifill did, though to a lesser degree. If Beth, whose bias is well known, states what she believes is THE major lesson of this episode, while completely ignoring what is self-evidently the ACTUAL major lesson of this episode, one can reasonably assume then that the default setting of a Leftwinger (which would be to support the mob in this instance) is the setting assumed by Beth as well.

                It’s just troubling to me, when a seemingly reasonable person like Beth doesn’t see the problems with her comment.

                Sure, it’s one word. And it may be a typo. I’m willing to accept that. But that would require admission. Until then, I have to assume that Beth does indeed believe that the major lesson to take away from this Missouri fiasco is that football is bad at colleges.

                • Honestly, Tex I read it to read ..

                  “For me, this highlights why universities need to get out of sports. The major lesson [ in this regard ] to be learned here is that the faculty of every university is held hostage by its sports programs and the alumni that demand it. Get out of the sports business and get in the business of education.”

                  I never thought for a second that she was minimizing the main issue.

                  • I guess when I read the first “this” in her comment, silly me assumed it was made within the context of your post – the resignation of the University President because of a grievance industry mob built around unproven accusations…

                    My bad. I suppose the error is mine.

                  • Huh?

                    Where did the ‘in this regard’ come from? Jack, how’d you like an appellate judge to have read that into an opponent’s brief?

                    While we’re inserting phrases, let me jump in.

                    “For me [unlike the rest of you conservative morons], this [has nothing whatsoever to do with leadership or the sad state of academia in the U.S. but instead merely] highlights why universities need to get out of [macho, male, non-Title IX compliant] sports. [But women’s sports must be expanded infinitely.] The major lesson [Not the distraction all the rest of you are obsessed with.] to be learned [Come on boys, pay attention. Stop thinking with your little heads.] is that the faculty of every university [Who are all well-intentioned, selfless molders of the next generation of studies Ph.Ds.] is held hostage by its sports programs and the alumni that demand it. Get out of the sports business and get in the business of education.”

                    Sounds like minimizing the main issue to me.

                    I’ve long contended universities have no business being in competitive sports, probably ever since my mother, who was a secretary at the University of Chicago’s hospital, explained proudly to me when I was a little kid why the University of Chicago didn’t have a football team even though under Amos Alonzo Stagg they dominated college football and the then truly Big 10 for years. All anyone knows about Chicago football now is that Enrico Fermi knowingly sacrificed himself beneath the football stadium stands during World War II doing the research that allowed for the development of the atomic bomb before the Germans did so. That and the Purdue base drum used to belong to Chicago’s band before they had to sell it. I think I’ve even made the assertion that higher education has nothing to do with college sports as they currently exist in prior comments.

                    And yes, college football (and basketball) is (are) one hideous plantation system. The white coaches and ADs and other administrators are essentially overpaid field bosses while all the black kids pick all the cotton, get brain damaged and maimed and then sent back to the poverty stricken places they were lured out of by black assistant coaches who hired black prostitutes (who hired their daughters) for them to cavort with in the athletic dorms (see, eg., the University of Louisville basketball “program”). Only in this case, the Missouri field boss is siding with the field workers against the plantation owner. How deliciously and tragically ironic.

                    • Again, confirmation bias. Or a manifestation of the phenomenon that causes me, when I’m in a bad mood, to ban first time commenters who come here with a comment that impugns my judgment and objectivity by saying “you should have written about issue X; don’t you understand that it’s important too?” That kind of hostile reading isn’t justified unless I write, “A lot of people are claiming that X is the main problem here, but they are wrong: Y is.” For some reason, you assumed Beth was uninterested in what I had just written an entire post about because she pointed out the other side of the same coin. I read a constructive comment as meaning what it meant.

                      I hold briefs to a higher level of precision than comments. It’s a Golden Rule thing: too many of my own comments are dashed off in seconds and not exactly the way I would have said them if I had more time.

                    • “For me [unlike the rest of you conservative morons], this [has nothing whatsoever to do with leadership or the sad state of academia in the U.S. but instead merely] highlights why universities need to get out of [macho, male, non-Title IX compliant] sports. [But women’s sports must be expanded infinitely.] The major lesson [Not the distraction all the rest of you are obsessed with.] to be learned [Come on boys, pay attention. Stop thinking with your little heads.] is that the faculty of every university [Who are all well-intentioned, selfless molders of the next generation of studies Ph.Ds.] is held hostage by its sports programs and the alumni that demand it. Get out of the sports business and get in the business of education.”

                      1. “Unlike the rest of you conservative morons?” I don’t think conservatives are morons. In fact, I used to be one. Some of the smartest people I know are conservatives. I challenge you to find anything I’ve wrote on this blog that suggests I think that way.
                      2. “Sad state of academia?” Talk about confirmation bias. I have written a ton on this blog about how our schools are failing our children. Indeed, I fear I will never be able to retire because all of my money goes to putting my kids in the best possible schools — ones that teach critical thinking. I have an avid dislike of most administrators — public and private.
                      3. “[macho, male, non-Title IX compliant] sports. [But women’s sports must be expanded infinitely.” Meh. I couldn’t care less about sports — at least when it comes to being integrated with education. I see sports as a good team building exercise and it’s good for fitness, but I don’t think colleges should be investing in them the way they do.
                      4. “Stop thinking with your little heads?” Wow — you’re a charmer I must say. When have I ever denigrated men? I like men. I married one. You appear to be the one who has gender issues …..
                      5. “[Who are all well-intentioned, selfless molders of the next generation of studies Ph.Ds.]” Ugh. I give up. Again, I’ve never even hinted at this.

                      Please comment on what I write — not on what you assume I must be thinking.

                    • Moderator again. To be fair, I took BILL’s post to be satire directed at mine, not a serious reflection of how he read your post that set off this quarrel.

                      Can I take you both out for a beer?

                    • Beth, I’m not sure where this will appear, but I would urge you to simply look again at your original comment and ask yourself whether it looks like a straw man argument or a false flag or whatever the correct term is. It seems to be saying, “Don’t look here, look over there.” That’s all. If you think the way you say about the comments I interjected, good for you.

                    • Beer works for me. I’ll buy.

                      This current back to the ’60s stuff among “progressives” and academics, the media and social justice warriors gets me too stirred up.

            • You could try it. Though I’m not sure it’d work. I call out nonsense on what is notionally “my side” as much as the other. Like the time SMP insisted the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.

              • I think I understand where SMP is coming from…. The civil war was about economics. It was also about slavery. But if the South had based its entire economy around say… coal… and the federal government tried to abolish coal usage, I have the feeling that the civil war still would have happened. I also have the feeling that had the economy been based in anything other than slavery, No one would have been interested in prohibiting their economic engine. It’s an interesting paradigm.

                • No doubt, but then again, I think there is a substantive moral difference in Fighting a government abolishing an economic system based on slavery and Fighting a government abolishing an economic system based on coal.

                  Something tells me there would be 10,000,000 times more sympathy for the South and animosity towards the North if that were the case…

                  The abstraction to “it was about economics” is ENTIRELY meant to hide the morality of it. It could ultimately be said that ALL war can be simply abstracted to some aspect of economics (and I probably wouldn’t disagree with that), but that is useless.

                  • But in the case of the South and slavery, slavery wasn’t only tolerated in America, it was codified. What happened was “We’ve built a system that includes this thing, and now that you’re entirely dependent upon it, we’re going to rip it out from under you.” This isn’t an argument that slavery was tolerable, or that because it was legal it was ethical, obviously slavery was and is abhorrent, but there were alternatives.

                    Look at how it was dealt with elsewhere, in say… Britain, where the government purchased all the slaves, freed them, and made it illegal to capture more. It may have been more expensive for the government, but it was still a legitimate way to deal with a problem. And I say ‘may have been’ instead of ‘was’ because the cost of the war might actually have been higher, it certainly was in state relations and human life.

                • You can go back to the original sources though and see that it was not just economics. There were moral and religious arguments being made about the superiority of whites over blacks.

                  • There were, absolutely. But things often have a way of sneaking back to pocketbooks. Had the South not been so financially dependent on slavery, I think there would have been less outrage.

                    To use a modern example, the Canadian aboriginal: We screwed them. Canada was and is contractually obligated to give them certain things we never did, and will probably never be able to, the most notable being certain tracts of land. It’s now inconceivable to make good on those land deals. To actually give them the land would cede basically the entire city of Winnipeg, to start, for just one of the treaties. And to buy the land would be more expensive by orders of magnitude than had we just bargained in good faith 400 years ago. They’re understandably upset, but at this point, there isn’t a Canadian who’s grandfather was alive when these deals were penned, and so there’s a lot of animosity to a perceived attempt at a cash grab.

                    There isn’t a real and good argument not to follow through with what is ethical, legal and necessary, except it would basically destroy the country. There wasn’t a good reason not to do what was ethical, legal and necessary in abolishing slavery, but it would have really hurt the South, even had they just immediately capitulated. At some point that damage has to be used as partial mitigation, in some kind of zero-sum calculation even against something as abhorrent as slavery.

  8. I’m really becoming more and more glad that there are online programs at an increasing number of universities. While most will say that the quality of education is less, I’m starting to wonder if we should factor in the exposure of on-campus students to such a corrosive, un-American culture.

  9. I like the new twist where the press is praising the protesters for attacking them. One of the Communications Professors (who works in the area of media of underrepresented groups) can be seen on video telling students she “needs some muscle” to move the press out of the center of campus (public space). A news reporter was shoved out of the area and later said she supports the protesters cause and their actions against her.

    Yes, that is a supporter of the role of the press in society right there.

  10. When other people are resorting to emotionalism, it seems ethical to remain calm. People do not live in a vacuum and the behavior in Missouri is interactive. The grad student did not force anyone to resign.

    One might question the quality of the education which he was receiving since he thought threatening to starve himself to death was a wise idea. It suggests a person who is motivated to place himself in the spotlight. If he were already a significant leader and if the problem were easily identifiable, such as Cesar Chavez’ hunger strike, then it might be a ethical choice.

    It seems to have been opportunistic emotionalism, but isn’t that how The Donald became the GOP front runner? Is it the individual egotist or the society which champions such behavior that is the culprit?

    • Or maybe we’re all really just brains in vats, and we shouldn’t care too much about anything. Yeah, that’s really something to think about.

  11. While we can certainly lament the quality of education dispensed today, these students are being exposed to curricula, and a relativistic method of thinking, largely developed in the humanities and liberal arts departments. You cannot get a degree in a hard sciences program (physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, etc.) without demonstrating an ability to think logically and correctly (yet), thank God. Unless we land in an Orwellian World where 2 + 2 = 5!
    Beth, I like your argument. Jason Gay of the WSJ has interesting take on this: http://www.wsj.com/public/page/news-sports-scores.html

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