By Sean Federico-O'Murchu, Alex Johnson and Jon Schuppe
A popular University of Missouri professor submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday following an uproar over an email he sent to students telling them they'd have to take an exam despite threats of campus violence. But the university said it rejected the resignation, NBC station KOMU of Columbia reported.
Dale Brigham, an associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, submitted his resignation as outrage among some students grew in the wake of his email message.
"If you give in to bullies, they win," Brigham wrote. "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."
That email sparked outrage among some students. Not long after, the professor announced he would step down.
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"I made a mistake, and I do not want to cause further harm," Brigham told KOMU in an email earlier Wednesday as he awaited the university's response.
Late Wednesday afternoon, KOMU quoted Christian Basi, a spokesman for the university, as saying Brigham's resignation wasn't accepted. No reason was given.
During the celebrations that followed, activists — including faculty members — clashed with journalists, spawning a spinoff debate about freedom of the press. Two of the faculty members publicly apologized.
Then on Wednesday, police arrested a student who they said had threatened black students and faculty on social media.
"I am just trying to do what I think is best for our students and the university as an institution," Brigham wrote. "If my leaders think that my leaving would help, I am all for it."
The university's administration announced a series of steps to bring calm to the campus Wednesday. That will include a panel Friday with faculty "who will share their teaching experiences this week."
Seán Federico-O'Murchú is Director of Social Newsgathering for NBC News. He has worked at NBC News, NBCNews.com and its predecessor, msnbc.com, since August 2000, holding a variety of positions, including manager of the home page, East Coast news editor, and International News editor.
Prior to joining msnbc.com, Federico-O'Murchu worked as a senior editor at Bridge News, a sports editor at The New York Post and a desk editor at Agence-France Presse. A native of Ireland, he lives in Montclair, N.J.
Alex Johnson is a reporter and editor for NBC News based in Los Angeles.
Jon Schuppe writes about crime, justice and related matters for NBC News.