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Sept. 18, 2014 Volume 36, No. 4

Chancellor Loftin is officially installed as MU’s 22nd chief executive officer

More than 300 delegates and faculty take part in procession


Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin took part in the procession from Reynolds Alumni Center to Missouri Theatre. Photo by Rob Hill.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin was inaugurated as the 22nd chief executive officer of the University of Missouri in stellar fashion Sept. 18 at Missouri Theatre.

The afternoon installation ceremony included a processional of 324 MU faculty and delegates from colleges and schools across the nation, an aria from an opera performed by two MU students, the premiere of a ceremonial wooden mace created on campus, and Bowen and Karin Loftin waving from a 16-foot-long black show wagon pulled by the mule team Tim and Terry.

The installation was part of a week of events celebrating MU’s 175th anniversary. On Monday, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham lectured on Thomas Jefferson and higher education, and throughout the week, symposia on a variety of intellectual topics were held. This evening at 9:30 p.m., the Columns on Francis Quadrangle will be illuminated in a special way.

Yet the defining moment, the one that summed up and underscored the week’s aspirations, was Loftin’s Thursday installation speech. In full academic regalia, and with the Jefferson Medallion hanging from his neck, Loftin spoke of his being a first-generation college student, his reliance on academic scholarships and his 40 years in higher education at seven institutions. He praised the rise in scholarship offerings and first-generation students at MU, but also challenged the campus community to think about a long-term vision commensurate with the greatness he sees at the institution.

“I am perfectly confident that Mizzou will become in 25 years and beyond the standard” to be emulated, Loftin said. "We will be the one that institutions seek to be like.”

The installation

At mid-afternoon, under a patchy blue sky, Loftin and a parade of delegates and faculty marched in full regalia from the Reynolds Alumni Center to Missouri Theatre, crossing in front of the Columns. A huge 175th-anniversary banner hung from the north porch of Jesse Hall.

Interim Provost Ken Dean led the group carrying a mace, or staff traditionally used in academic ceremonies for hundreds of years.

The mace, created this year by campus employees and students with wood from Switzler Hall, bears the University of Missouri’s academic seal and representations of Thomas Jefferson, the Columns, the Memorial Union Tower and, on its oversized cap, Jesse Hall dome. The Mizzou Alumni Association paid for the mace’s creation.

Many of the more than 50 delegates taking part in the procession hailed from institutions that are, like MU, members of the Association of American Universities. Among the schools represented were Harvard, Princeton, Vanderbilt and Brandeis.

In Missouri Theatre, the procession joined an audience of elected officials, directors of academic associations, embassy representatives, Campaign Cabinet alumni, Jefferson Club trustees, and MU students and employees. Emceeing the event was Dean, official bearer of the mace. He placed the mace on a stand near center stage for the duration of the ceremony.

Remarks were made by Faculty Council Chair Craig Roberts, Staff Advisory Council Chair Becky Stafford, and students Kelsey Haberberger and Hallie Thompson, the latter of whom praised Loftin for “putting students first.”

Art was also part of the ceremony. “Shannon’s Aria” from the opera Corps of Discovery, first staged in 2002 at MU, was performed by two students: singer Brandon Browning and pianist Jenna Braaksma.

Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri System, expressed his gratitude for Loftin’s “careful composure” and “stellar guidance.” Then, he and Don Downing, chair of the UM Board of Curators, presented Loftin with the Jefferson Medallion, first presented to Chancellor Brady J. Deaton in 2004 to be worn at commencement ceremonies and formal occasions. Jefferson supported public university education and was instrumental in the Louisiana Purchase; the University of Missouri was the first higher education institution founded within the territory.

“I hereby vest in you the power and obligations of the office that is signified with the Jefferson Medallion that we now place around your neck,” Wolfe said.


Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin spoke about his vision for the University of Missouri Sept. 19 at Missouri Theatre. Photo by Rob Hill.

The vision

In his address, Loftin, who joined MU Feb. 1, 2014, praised MU’s enrollment of first-generation college students, pointing out that 25 percent of the 2014 freshman class is first-generation. He was proud of MU’s nearly 35,000 students for their hard work and pursuit of MU’s core values of responsibility, respect, discovery and excellence.

He spoke of the cutting-edge research happening on campus and the ways MU Extension helps extend that knowledge to Missourians.

But he also said that too often the university emulates other institutions rather than forging its own path. “Unless we define the future we want, someone else will define it” for us, Loftin said.

With a spirit of endurance, “let us band together and define the future we want.”

Loftin announced that, beginning this month, he would put in place a steering committee of faculty, staff and students to imagine what the university could and should be on its 200th birthday. He asked for a report by April 2015 to be submitted to the UM Board of Curators.

After the ceremony, Bowen and Karin Loftin, their son, Ben, and Karin’s brother, Gary Cibula, boarded the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Mule Team wagon for a ride to Memorial Union’s Stotler Lounge. The riders and passers-by exchanged smiles and waves along the winding route.

Below is the video "Making Mizzou's Mace."

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