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UM System President Wolfe resigns, MU Chancellor transitions to new role; UM Board of Curators announces significant diversity and inclusion initiatives

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John Fougere

Nov 09, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation today after three and a half years in the position.

“The board is grateful for the service and accomplishments of President Wolfe during his tenure,” said Donald Cupps, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “President Wolfe has instituted meaningful strategic planning and efficiencies to the university system and, by his action today, he is putting the interest of the University of Missouri ahead of himself.”

Also, effective January 1, 2016, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin will transition into director for research facility development.  In his new role, Loftin will be involved in leading MU’s efforts to construct new facilities and renovate current facilities to meet the university’s research needs.

Said Cupps, “The university would like to thank Dr. Loftin for his services as chancellor and looks forward to his work in his new role.”

Hank Foley, MU senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies and current UM System executive vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development has been appointed interim chancellor for the MU campus. An interim system president will be announced as soon as possible.

Leadership changes

“As a board, we have taken an oath to maintain the standard of excellence and source of pride that the University of Missouri is for all Missourians. We are committed to keeping the institution and our state moving forward,” said Cupps.“It saddens me that some who have attended our university have ever felt fear, being unwelcome, or have experienced racism.”

“To those who have suffered, I apologize on behalf of the university for being slow to respond to experiences that are unacceptable and offensive in our campus communities and in our society,” Cupps continued. “Significant changes are required to move us forward. The board is committed to making those changes.”

Said Wolfe, “This institution is a source of pride for the state and beacon of hope for many young people from all walks of life, and it has been my honor to lead it. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but I made my decision based on what I believe is right for the University of Missouri.”

“Recent circumstances, including serious concerns about the MU campus and its leadership, have created too much pain at Mizzou, which is my alma mater and the place I call home,” he said. “I sincerely wish it was different, but events are such that the best course of action for the university at this time is for me to resign.”

Said Loftin, “It has been my pleasure to serve as chancellor of this great institution. I hope that every member of our campus community will embrace each person’s right to express their opinions in a respectful manner and to make progress toward our common goal of an inclusive campus that values the contributions of all individuals. I am excited for my new challenge to lead the university’s research facility development.”

New initiatives

“The board of curators will not tolerate hateful activities on our campuses – period,” said Cupps. “We are taking additional measures beginning today to ensure that our campuses are free of acts of hatred, so that our campuses all embody a culture of respect.”

Today the board announced a series of initiatives to be implemented over the next 90 days to address the racial climate on its campuses, including:

  • A first-ever Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer will be appointed for the UM System. Accountability and metrics will be established for the position going forward;
  • A full review will be initiated of all UM System policies as they relate to staff and student conduct;
  • Additional support will be provided for students, faculty and staff who have experienced discrimination and disparate treatment.
  • Additional support will be provided for the hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff;

In addition, the board announced its plan to ensure effective next steps through an open communication process that invites perspective from across the system. These steps are to:

  • Create a diversity, inclusion and equity task force to develop both a short- and long-term strategy, plan and metrics for the UM System based on an inventory and audit of current programs, policies and practices.
  • Establish campus-based task forces to develop diversity, inclusion and equity strategies, plans and metrics.
  • Ensure that each UM System campus has a Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer reporting to the chancellor;
  • Launch a diversity, inclusion and equity leadership training and development education program, which includes the board of curators, president and administrative leadership, followed by broader faculty and staff training.

Specifically, on the MU campus:

  • There is a process in place to identify external diversity, inclusion and equity consultants to conduct a comprehensive assessment of diversity and inclusion efforts on campus.
  • There will be mandatory diversity, inclusion and equity training for all faculty, staff and future incoming students.
  • We will continue the comprehensive review of student mental health services to ensure that students are referred to the most appropriate resources for their needs.

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