Published Dec. 5, 2013
Story by Karen Pojmann
Mizzou has a new chancellor. And he’s an Aggie. R. Bowen Loftin, outgoing president of Texas A&M University, will fill the seat in Jesse Hall left vacant since Brady Deaton’s Nov. 15 retirement. He starts Feb. 1, 2014.
An alumnus of Texas A&M, Loftin became president of his alma mater in 2010, after serving eight months as interim president and four years as vice president and CEO of Texas A&M’s Galveston campus. Loftin announced in July that would leave his position as president in January 2014.
He might expect a smooth transition. Like Mizzou, Texas A&M is a large, public land-grant research institution. It’s a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It’s even a fellow Southeastern Conference newbie; Texas A&M joined the SEC with Mizzou in 2012.
Under Loftin's leadership, Texas A&M has acquired a law school, reached $700 million in annual research expenditures and set records in enrollment (56,255 students) and capital-campaign gifts ($740 million in FY 2013).
The social media star
The bowtie-clad, mustachioed administrator is beloved by students. He lunches with them in dining halls and helps them move into the residence halls. He cheers alongside them at pep rallies and sits in on band practices.
He tweets. He uses Facebook. His Internet presence is peppered with pics of admirers’ babies and pets in Loftinian maroon bowties, as well as the smiling president posing with students and colleagues in “Gig ’em!” stance — an Aggie thumbs-up hand signal soon to be replaced with a hearty “M-I-Z!"
The physics and engineering professor is equally popular in the world of science and technology. Government and industry entities seek out Loftin's expertise in modeling and simulation, advanced training technologies and scientific/engineering data visualization. His work has been honored with awards from NASA and the American Association of Artificial Intelligence.
Along with a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M, Loftin holds a master's degree and a doctorate in physics from Rice University. He has taught electrical and computer engineering and computer science at Virginia's Old Dominion University, where he led programs in modeling and simulation. He also directed the NASA Virtual Environments Research Institute at the University of Houston.
The family man
The incoming chancellor is married to Karin Loftin, a biomedical research scientist currently working at the Office of Research Compliance and Biosafety at Texas A&M University. She's an avid equestrian, who rides a Hanoverian horse named Fritz. The Loftins have a son, a daughter and three grandsons.
The chosen one
Loftin’s appointment concludes a quest sparked by the June 15 announcement of Deaton’s retirement plans. The university convened an 18-member search committee — made up of current and former faculty, staff and students — and hired the California executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates to spearhead the undertaking. Town hall meetings, calls for nominations and numerous interviews ensued, culminating in the Dec. 5 announcement.
Until Loftin takes the reins Feb. 1, Steve Owens, current UM System general counsel, continues to serve as interim chancellor, and MU Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton adds the duties of transition executive to his current role.
Brady Deaton remains in Columbia, where he plans to head the new Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development.