Earlier this afternoon, University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigned his position, succumbing to intense pressure first ignited by the hunger strike of graduate student Jonathan Butler. But Wolfe is not the only school leader on his way out: Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin just announced his resignation, effective at the end of this year.
Loftin’s decision to leave his position comes in the wake of a letter sent to the school’s Board of Curators by deans of nine of Mizzou’s individual colleges asking the board to fire Loftin. The letter was sent both to the Board of Curators and to Wolfe (who had other things to worry about) and cited the underwriters’ “deep concern about the multitude of crises on our flagship campus.” Background via the Columbia Tribune:
The nine deans met with Wolfe on Oct. 9 and on Oct. 13 met with Wolfe, Loftin and Provost Garnett Stokes to express their concerns, according to the letter.
“The issues we raised in those meetings have continued to deteriorate into a campus crisis that demands immediate and decisive action,” they wrote. “It is the Chancellor’s responsibility as the Chief Executive Officer of the campus to effectively address these campus issues.”
Specifically, the deans cited Mizzou’s decision to revoke health insurance subsidies for graduate students—a policy that was so unpopular it was reversed less than a week later—as one reason why Loftin should be fired. (This was also one of the points highlighted by Butler in his letter announcing his hunger strike.) The deans also wrote that Loftin created a “toxic environment through threat, fear and intimidation.”
Loftin’s ousting has been talked about for weeks, going back before Butler’s hunger strike. On October 21, the Board of Curators held a four-hour meeting to discuss “personal matters” that was widely believed to be about Loftin’s job. But as pressure mounted against Wolfe, so did it against Loftin. Last week, the school’s English department cast a unanimous vote of no confidence in Loftin, and on Sunday so too did the Department of Romance Languages.
Like Wolfe, Loftin issued a statement addressing Concerned Student 1950—the organization Butler has become the face of—with compassion, but, like Wolfe, it was not enough save him. It probably did not help that at the commencement of Butler’s hunger strike, Loftin seemed to think that Butler was calling just himself Concerned Student 1950.
But the Butler protest is just a very visible end to a tumultuous semester on campus. Along with the issues of graduate student health insurance and racism, Loftin also presided over a school that severed ties with Planned Parenthood, bowing to pressure applied by state Republicans and effectively ending the practice abortions in the school’s town of Columbia.
[image via AP]