MU chancellor’s handling of big issues draws criticism, support

University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin talks with students and faculty during an open forum about race relations on MU's campus on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The students discussed issues about safety, discrimination and proactive change with administration. | Courtesy of KOMU/Flickr
University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin talks with students and faculty during a forum about race relations on MU’s campus in March. Loftin’s handling of racial tension is one issue that has drawn criticism. | Courtesy of KOMU/Flickr

University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin’s responses to issues at MU, including the university’s relationship with Planned Parenthood, graduate health insurance, racial tension and the resignation of the medical school dean, have led to questions about Loftin’s job security just 20 months into his tenure.

Kenneth Bryant Jr., president of the Graduate Student Association, said that many students don’t see the chancellor as being visible on important issues. Loftin’s responses have been reactive rather than pro-active, Bryant said.

Faculty members in the English Department are considering holding a vote of no confidence on the chancellor in November. Some faculty members are encouraging other MU departments to do the same.

While some students and faculty express doubts about Loftin’s management, others have come to his defense. Some social media users have tweeted their support using the hashtag #IStandWithLoftin, and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed drove from St. Louis to Columbia last week hoping to speak to the UM Board of Curators on the chancellor’s behalf.

“At the end of the day, he’s doing the right thing,” Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis said. “He’s a man of good character. He’s moving this campus forward in the most productive way and the most progressive way.”

The last time an MU chancellor was dismissed from his office, the Board of Curators voted 5-4 to fire Chancellor Charles Kiesler on July 18, 1996.

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