Just hours after University of Missouri (MU) president Tim Wolfe was driven from office over racial tensions at the school, the chancellor of the school’s flagship Columbia campus announced that he will be stepping down as well, increasing the body count in a gruesome day for the university. Meanwhile, activists at the school say their struggle is not over and that they plan to release even more demands for the school in the near future.
R. Bowen Loftin will leave his post at the end of the year, after which vice chancellor Hank Foley will take over on an interim basis until a new chancellor is chosen.
The announcement came just a few hours after nine deans of the Columbia campus sent a letter to the school’s Board of Curators calling for his dismissal, citing the repeated crises that have rocked the campus. The deans accused Loftin, who has only been at MU since February 2014, of creating a “toxic environment through threat, fear and intimidation.”
Like the departed Wolfe, Loftin had been criticized for not doing enough to address racial issues on campus. For example, he was attacked for not endorsing protest actions following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and for not instituting a diversity course requirement for students. But Loftin has also been attacked for non-racial reasons, such as the school’s decision to cancel contracts with Planned Parenthood and an attempt to cancel health insurance for graduate students.
Still, the fact that Loftin was forced out today and not later is almost certainly due to the uproar created by the decision of MU’s football team to go on strike until President Wolfe was forced from office, which led to an emergency meeting of the Board of Curators in an attempt to end what has ballooned into a huge crisis.
Along with the departures, the school’s Board of Curators has also announced a host of initiatives intended to assuage activists. Among these new initiatives is the hiring of a full-time chief diversity officer, efforts to hire and retain more non-white faculty, and the creation of diversity task forces at each MU campus.
This may not be enough for activists, though, who have demanded the school institute a quota system for hiring blacks and compel students and faculty to participate in a “diversity and inclusion curriculum” that will be created by non-white students and faculty members.
Already, the leaders of the group Concerned Students 1950 say they plan to release a new list of demands for the school to follow-up on Wolfe’s departure.
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