Target of attacks in ex-Mizzou president’s leaked email hits back at the claims

R. Bowen Loftin Wikipedia via Mark Schierbecker

Former chancellor of the University of Missouri, R. Bowen Loftin, is hitting back at an inflammatory leaked email written by former Mizzou president Tim Wolfe.

Wolfe sent the email to his friends after he departed Mizzou in the fall amid claims that he failed to address serious incidents of racism on campus.

In the email, he said Loftin “shifted the focus” of students concerned about racism towards Wolfe. Loftin characterised these comments as untruthful, ad hominem attacks.

“To think that students would be manipulated or somehow be used as pawns by me against him is absolutely ludicrous,” Loftin told Business Insider. “I just can’t believe that that was a charge he leveled against me.”

Wolfe says the former chancellor’s job was on the line shortly before the protests on campus, but that Loftin used the Concerned Student 1950 student-led protest group to shift focus onto Wolfe. He later writes he “made the mistake of hiring Bowen Loftin” in the first place.

“This kind of attack was unexpected,” Loftin said.

Here’s the major section about Loftin from Bowen’s email:

“In Bowen’s short time at MU as Chancellor he had angered the Greeks over proposed changes to women in fraternities, disrupted the health system by pressuring Vice Chancellor Hal Williamson to retire, angered the graduate students by taking away their health insurance and then reinstating it, his decision and testimony on Planned Parenthood upset the faculty, every Dean at MU demanded his removal and he shifted the focus of Concerned Student 1950 to me from him once he discovered his job was in jeopardy in late September.”

Loftin takes fault with the assertion that he was failing at his job and used protests to transfer the focus off of him. He said he and Wolfe spoke daily and there was never any indication his job was in jeopardy. He also said that he went through a formal review process and was praised by Wolfe in late September.

Still, there was some indication of discord in the chancellor’s office. In the beginning of November, nine deans from schools across the University of Missouri (MU) system sent a letter to the board of curators calling for Loftin’s removal, according to The Maneater, MU’s student newspaper.

Protesters celebrate after the resignation resignation of Missouri University president Timothy M. Wolfe on the Missouri University Campus November 9, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. Wolfe resigned after pressure from students and student athletes over his perceived insensitivity to racism on the university campus. (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
Protesters celebrate after the resignation resignation of Missouri University president Timothy M. Wolfe on the Missouri University Campus November 9, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

The deans’ letter cites Loftin’s “handling of race and cultural issues on our campus,” but also other issues, such as the firing of the dean of the School of Medicine and health insurance issues for graduate students, according to The Maneater.

On November 9, 2015, both Wolfe and Loftin resigned from their positions. Wolfe is no longer formally employed by the University of Missouri system. Loftin, however, is still employed by MU and is in a role that develops new research facilities at Mizzou.

For its part, The University of Missouri responded to Wolfe’s letter by saying it’s currently discussing the former president’s compensation package. “Since Mr. Wolfe resigned voluntarily last November, discussions have been on-going aimed at reaching an acceptable post-resignation agreement,” a statement online read.

Racial tensions on the Columbia, Missouri, campus started when Payton Head, president of the Missouri Students Association, said he was abused with racial epithets while walking on campus in the beginning of September.

Tensions accelerated when another group of students said it was targeted with hate speech in October. Wolfe eventually resigned as president after students accused him of being an ineffectual leader who mishandled the instances of racism on campus.

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