Loftin inaugurated, discusses MU’s longevity

Loftin announced he will create the “Looking Forward to 200 Committee” to improve MU’s long-term planning.
MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin addresses a packed Missouri Theater on Thursday, Sept. 18. Loftin started as chancellor in February.

School spirit was stronger than ever when MU inaugurated R. Bowen Loftin as chancellor Thursday.

MU students, faculty and distinguished alumni, as well as guests from institutions like Harvard, Princeton and Duke accompanied Loftin in a processional from the Reynolds Alumni Center to the Missouri Theatre, where an installment ceremony took place.

Many wore ceremonial robes, military uniforms and mementos from a similar event on MU’s 150th anniversary 25 years ago.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said about 750 people were in attendance.

The former Texas A&M University president has been serving as MU’s chancellor since Feb. 1, but his formal inauguration was planned to coincide with this historical milestone for the university. He is the 22nd person to serve in this position.

During his speech, Loftin said he believes the administration could improve its long-term planning, so that the university could continue to grow and improve for many more years.

To accomplish this goal, Loftin announced he will create the “Looking Forward to 200 Committee”, which he said will develop long-term plans for the next 25 years.

The committee will have several goals: creating better access for low-income students, improving education and leadership programs, creating a better environment for scientific research, and advancing the current positive associations of what Loftin calls “the Mizzou brand”.

Loftin also discussed his reason for coming to MU and what he envisioned for the university’s future.

Loftin said he found a minor but significant detail during his visit to MU during a Texas A&M-Mizzou football game. In his experience, Loftin said, most schools squeezed into poor seats at games to make more money.

“Here, they had 50-yard-line seats,” he said, referring to the east side of stadium seating reserved for students. “That, my friends, is something special.”

Loftin said that experience told him a lot about how MU prioritizes students’ experiences.

He said when he meets students for the first time, he asks if they are happy at MU.

“So far everyone’s told me the same thing: yes.”

UM System President Tim Wolfe presented Loftin with the Jefferson Medallion, which he said signifies “the power and obligations of the office.” Loftin will wear the medallion at all formal MU events.

Wolfe said that during the search process for a new chancellor, the members of the committee wanted “a leader who would truly fit the university’s elite status.”

“I feel our search was successful and then some,” he said.

Other events took place throughout the week to celebrate the inauguration and MU’s 175th year, including a series of symposia lectures that focused on the future of higher education.

Among the guest speakers were Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “American Lion” and executive editor at Random House, Chancellor Emeritus Richard Wallace and MU President Emeritus Mel George.

MU also received a marble slab from the Smithsonian Institute on which Thomas Jefferson wrote his own epitaph. According to an MU news release, the piece will eventually be showcased in Jesse Hall, which is currently undergoing renovations.

The celebration will conclude with a ceremonial illumination of the Columns on Friday night.

Basi said the events cost an estimated $43,000, but nearly 99 percent of the funds were transferred between various university departments in exchange for goods and services.

“This is a unique opportunity to raise the profile of the university among our peers,” he said.

Loftin closed the ceremony by reminding the audience that although MU should take guidance from other universities, it should define its own path rather than imitating theirs precisely.

“I am perfectly confident that Mizzou will become, in 25 years and beyond, the standard,” he said.

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