Michael Middleton told the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the University of Missouri can be a national example as it struggles to deal with the problems exposed by last fall’s student protests.
While describing last fall’s unrest as a “perfect storm” that extended beyond race, Middleton, interim president of the University of Missouri system, couched the protests and recoil as part of a lingering national story.
“Missouri has been a hotbed for centuries, and it is reflected in Missourians’ opinions and positions with regard to what happened at the university,” said Middleton, who received his undergraduate and law degrees at the Columbia campus.
“I am optimistic,” he said. “We have been around 177 years. We have been through problems, ups and downs … We generally come back stronger.”
In one of several blunt answers to questions about challenges facing the flagship Columbia campus, he described prospective freshman fall enrollment there as “grim,” and said the campus is bracing for a $30 million drop in tuition from a smaller first-year class. Middleton also said that he expected to be in his job at least until the end of the year, as a national search for a permanent system head continues.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch