E-Flo leaves lasting impression at MU, at this paper

A full timeline of E. Flo’s tenure at MU and coverage of his memorial service can be found online.
Chancellor of UM St. Louis Thomas George speaks at a memorial service held for the former UM System President Elson Floyd on June 25 at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Courtesy of the UM System

MU lost one of its own, former UM System President Elson S. Floyd, on June 20. He served from 2003-07 as the 10th UM System president.

I attended a celebration of his life five days later and I learned a little about him. First of all, I learned it was The Maneater, in fact, that gave him his nickname “E-Flo,” that was popular among students. In 2003, the Editorial Board first used the name in a satirical piece in their April 1 issue in which Floyd confesses that he is the son of God.

E-Flo was loved and appreciated by many. A dry eye was rare in Reynolds Alumni Center at his service. It was clear the impression he left at this university will never be forgotten.

“I constantly supported him, because he was the best person we’ve ever had,” said Eddie Adelstein, who currently serves as chief of pathology at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. “He was the first person that actually came here that was well-equipped to lead a university.”

Stephen Montgomery-Smith, a mathematics professor for the past 26 years at MU, said he never met E-Flo, but that those who worked with him spoke highly of him.

“I think he really listened to people’s concerns,” he said. “I think he was a loss when he left actually.”

Friends, family and former colleagues of E-Flo shared their own personal anecdotes and legendary tales of his kindness and generosity to students — once, he gave the boots off his feet to a student struggling through the snow .

Jerry Hitzhusen, the associate professor with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, told a story about how he tried to teach E-Flo how to hit a golfball and said he was “not a golfer.”

Personal stories aside, E-Flo also did a lot for MU. He kept tuition affordable for students during a time of low state funding and helped increase the total enrollment and minority enrollment on all four UM System campuses.

He hired Brady Deaton as chancellor at MU, encouraged adding the sexual orientation clause to be included in the UM System non-discrimination policy and fought for private funding for the university.

He intended to include Northwest Missouri State in the UM System and said “he would investigate the possibility of consolidating the MU campus administrative roles and those in the UM system,” according to a Maneater article in 2003. Those never came to fruition, but the sentiment was there.

E-Flo left MU to become president of Washington State University in 2006, which was the position he held at the time of his death.

A full timeline of E. Flo’s tenure at MU and coverage of his memorial service can be found here.

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