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More Leadership Changes At University of Missouri

There's another shakeup at the University of Missouri. On Monday afternoon, R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor for the Columbia campus, announced he would move to a new role at the end of the year.

The day started with UM system President Tim Wolfe resigning. Members of the student activist group Concerned Student 1950 had been protesting Wolfe for weeks after a number of racially charged incidents on the Columbia campus.

Student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike last week in protest. On Saturday evening, the Mizzou football team announced on Twitter that they too would join the protest, refusing to train or play in any game until Wolfe resigned.

After Wolfe's announcement, the UM Board of Curators went into an executive session behind closed doors. Deans from nine colleges on the Columbia campus sent a letter to the curators.

In the letter, they wrote that Chancellor Loftin has created a quote “toxic environment through threat, fear and intimidation," according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.  

Journalism Dean David Kurpius told KBIA that he signed the letter and says ultimately Loftin is responsible for the mistrustful atmosphere on campus because of his leadership role.

“I’m concerned with the climate on campus not just with race and the swastika incident in the dorm but also the graduate student issues and having those move toward resolution,” said Kurpius.

After a marathon Board of Curators meeting, Loftin emerged to announce his time as chancellor would be up at the end of the year, and that he will switch into the position of director for research facility development.

The board appointed Hank Foley, MU senior vice president for research and graduate studies, as interim chancellor for MU.  An interim system president has not yet been named.

In a press release, the university says Loftin will be “involved in leading MU’s efforts to construct new facilities and renovate current facilities to meet the university’s research needs.”

Board of Curators chair Donald Cupps said: “To those who have suffered, I apologize on behalf of the university for being slow to respond to experiences that are unacceptable and offensive in our campus communities and in our society. Significant changes are required to move us forward. The board is committed to making those changes.”

The board also announced several moves to improve the racial climate on campuses over the next 90 days, including hiring a Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity officer for the UM system.

The board also plans to review policies on staff and student conduct and provide more support for students, faculty and staff who have faced discrimination.

On the Columbia campus there will be special measures, including mandatory diversity training for faculty, staff, and incoming students and a special effort to examine diversity and inclusion on campus. The board also plans to review student mental health services.

Maria Carter is the news director at KCUR. Follow her on twitter @mariacarter or send story ideas to maria@kcur.org.

KCUR is a service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, but operates an independent editorial operation.

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