Ever since R. Bowen Loftin, who was previously the president of Texas A&M University, was announced to lead MU in its 175th year, he has failed to disappoint.
Two things most noticeable about our new chancellor: He is highly active on Twitter — dare we say, even more so than the average student may be — and he looks great in bow ties, an accessory that he dons in great abundance.
What makes Loftin so great is that he combines these two aspects of his personality to actively interact with students and faculty and has used it to build a relationship with the community early on.
Even before he rolled into town donning a golden Mizzou bow tie with his iPhone in hand, Loftin charmed us all with numerous selfies and updates on the road. And when MU celebrated its 11th and 12th snow days in school history, he celebrated with the students by starting a snowman-building contest.
Around campus, Loftin can be spotted taking selfies with students, as well as tweeting back to just about anyone who tweets at his handle, @bowtieger.
The chancellor has built himself a reputation as an aficionado of fashion accessories and is fearless in embracing it. He even joined Quirks and friends in a bow-tying event.
By actively interacting with the MU community and putting his personality on display for all to see, Loftin quickly blended in as an integral part of the university.
Of course, Loftin also brought with him an impressive résumé. Since he started his A&M presidency in early 2010, the Texas university saw record enrollment growth to more than 50,000 students, and he expanded the Aggies’ research budget to nearly $700 million and directed more than $740 million in donations.
And when he came to MU, Loftin wasted no time before he hit the ground running.
One of the first tasks he had was searching for a new provost, deans for the medicine and journalism schools, and replacements for the outgoing vice chancellors for university affairs, administrative services and research, to create a dream team he can work with at MU.
Loftin’s nomination of Hank Foley — who served as the vice president for research at Pennsylvania State University before coming to the UM System as vice president of academic affairs — demonstrates Loftin’s devotion to improving research on campus, like the growth he saw in College Station, Texas.
The chancellor also created two new administrative positions with hopes of streamlining communication.
The fact that Loftin promotes from within MU instead of hiring outsiders should indicate his intention of maintaining and learning much of the institutional knowledge from people who were here before him.
Loftin’s transition into his new job had its shaky moments, however, due to a number of unforeseen events.
MU Libraries’ collection of more than 3 million books took a hit when nearly 600,000 of the texts were found to be ruined with mold.
And tragedy hit not only MU but mid-Missouri as a whole when the collapse at University Village killed Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt. Public outcry only grew stronger when a report revealed that the facility should have been closed years before due to the deteriorating conditions.
Even when he found himself amid a barrage of condemnation of MU’s negligence, Loftin didn’t lose his resolve and began addressing the issues at hand. Plans are underway to treat the damaged books, though at a hefty cost, and University Village will finally be closed and demolished later this year.
While questions still loom about the futures of the Student Parent Center at University Village and sexual assault policies at MU, it’s safe to say that Loftin has taken note of the problems and will attempt to provide a resolution to each concern.