Six hours after University of Missouri (UM) System President Tim Wolfe resigned from his post, the chancellor of UM’s flagship campus in Columbia (MU), R. Bowen Loftin, announced he will step down at the end of the year.
A series of racially charged incidents on the MU campus led to a meeting of the UM Board of Curators Monday, Nov. 9, at which time Wolfe tendered his resignation. Student activists at the school had been calling for Loftin’s resignation as well, and earlier that day, deans from nine different MU colleges added to the call for his dismissal.
They said Loftin failed to provide leadership on several issues, including health insurance for graduate assistants and the elimination of the vice chancellor for health sciences position. In their letter, the deans said Loftin created a “toxic environment through threat, fear, and intimidation.”
Faculty members in other MU departments had issued votes of no confidence in Loftin the week prior.
Loftin, who joined MU in February 2014, said at Monday’s meeting that he will take on the position of director for research facility development at the university Jan. 1.
The board installed Hank Foley, MU senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, as interim chancellor of MU. It also announced a series of diversity initiatives to be implemented within the next 90 days, including the hiring of the system’s first-ever chief diversity, inclusion, and equity officer.
Other efforts include the hiring of a chief diversity, inclusion, and equity officer at each campus; additional support for students, faculty, and staff to deal with discrimination; increased support in the hiring and retaining of diverse faculty and staff; and the creation of a diversity, inclusion, and equity task force for the UM system and individual campuses to assess existing and develop new short- and long-term strategies.
On Tuesday, MU announced the appointment of Chuck Henson, JD, to the position of interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity, and equity. Henson is associate dean for academic affairs and trial practice in the MU School of Law. His research focuses on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workforce. Henson’s position is effective immediately.