University of Missouri taps Michael Middleton as interim president

COLUMBIA, Missouri (AP) — One of the University of Missouri’s first black law school graduates was appointed Thursday to lead the four-campus system through a tumultuous period of racial unrest, drawing praise from students who said he’s well-equipped to confront the problems they felt his predecessor largely ignored.

Michael Middleton, 68, has spent 30 years at the university — as an undergraduate, law student, faculty member and finally, administrator. At a news conference announcing his appointment as the university system’s interim president, he vowed to take on the racial problems that inspired the protests that helped force Monday’s abrupt resignation of President Tim Wolfe and another top administrator.

Middleton takes over as black student groups, calling for change over the administration’s handling of racial issues, were given a boost last weekend when 30 black football players vowed not to take part in team activities until Wolfe was gone.

Middleton said the university “has faced its share of troubling incidents and we recognize that we must move forward as a community. We must embrace these issues as they come, and they will come to define us in the future.”

Meanwhile Thursday, authorities announced that a third Missouri man had been charged for allegedly posting anonymous online threats to attack college campuses.

Hunter M. Park, a 19-year-old student at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla who was the first of the three to be charged, appeared in court Thursday via a video feed from a Columbia jail, where he was ordered held without bond. He is charged with making a terroristic threat, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Park is accused of making threatening posts that showed up Tuesday on the anonymous location-based messaging app Yik Yak and were concerning enough that some classes were canceled and some Columbia businesses closed for the day.

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Associated Press writers Jim Suhr and Jim Salter in St. Louis and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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