A University of Missouri teacher said that he is resigning over a note urging students to still come to class for an exam despite there being a threat of violence towards African Americans on campus. The associate teaching professor sent an email to his students on Tuesday then changed his position on Wednesday, canceling the test and submitting his resignation — but so far the university has said it won't accept his resignation. This adds yet another layer of complexity to an incident that is still being investigated by campus police as well as local authorities. Who is Mizzou professor Dale Brigham?
Brigham got his PhD in nutrition at Penn State, graduating in 1994 according to his LinkedIn profile. It appears that the professor first enrolled at Penn State in 1987. A Facebook profile belonging to the professor states that he graduated high school at Monterey High School in Lubbock, Texas, where he is originally from. Brigham has been teaching at the University of Missouri for a full 18 years, having joined the school in 1997.
Brigham was set to administer an exam to his Nutritional Science 1034 class around the time that tensions were mounting at Mizzou and a social media threat was issued on chat client Yik Yak stating that African-American students would be shot at if they went on campus. Brigham sent out an email regarding still holding the class, which was heavily circulated online. It read:
If you don't feel safe coming to class, then don't come to class. I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class. If you give into bullies, they win. The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them. If we cancel the exam, they win; if we go through with it, they lose. I know which side I am on. You make your own choice.
Facing backlash from both students and social media, Brigham sent out a follow-up email canceling class and stating that he has issued a letter of resignation to the school. Brigham explained his decision to KOMU 8, the local NBC affiliate, as such:
I am just trying to do what I think is best for our students and the university as an institution. If my leaders think that my leaving would help, I am all for it. I made a mistake, and I do not want to cause further harm.
The professor is a well-loved teacher whom students respect as well as feel inspired and challenged by, according to several Twitter users, as well as the website RateMyProfessors. The site's 55 reviews of the nutrition and exercise psychology professor all have glowing things to say about him. Many highlighted his willingness to help students succeed, by bolding text that would appear on upcoming tests. Already, a review of Brigham has appeared lamenting his resignation. However, local NBC affiliate KOMU reports that the school refuses to accept Brigham's stepping down. No further statements have been issued by Mizzou as of this writing.