After two years at MU, former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and his wife Karin are preparing to say goodbye to the Residence on Francis Quadrangle, a place they have called home since February 2014.
Following his resignation on Nov. 9, Loftin asked for up to 120 days to remain in the residence while he and his wife searched for a new place to live. Loftin said the UM System Board of Curators were very understanding with his situation. He has since transitioned into a new role as the director for research facility development.
The Loftins have been looking for a new house since November 2015 and made an offer on one earlier in the year. However, the sale fell through when the seller decided to take the house off the market. They began their search again and have recently made an offer on another house.
Loftin said he hopes to close on this house sometime in the next two weeks.
“If it all works out, then we’ll hopefully be able to move out around the middle to late part of April,” Loftin said. “The nominal deadline is the end of April, and I think that is going to be achievable now.”
When Loftin and his wife move out, the residence will continue to be used for “university-related business and entertainment,” as outlined in Loftin’s original contract.
MU spokesman Christian Basi said the residence is typically used for receptions or entertaining the chancellor’s guests. In recent years, the bottom level of the three-story house has been open to the public during campus events such as Family weekend.
Since 1867, when the residence was constructed, many notable figures have been entertained there including Mark Twain, Harry S. Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt, according to the Columbia Missourian.
In Loftin’s time, the residence has hosted Bill Nye the Science Guy and Jack Dorsey, the founder of the mobile payment company Square.
Loftin remembers taking a picture in front of one of the home’s fireplaces with Truman the Tiger and Nye, where they each straightened their bow ties for the camera.
“During his presentation in Jesse (Hall), I actually gave him a bow tie and he changed his bow tie out in real time,” Loftin said.
Aside from some of the more well-known guests, Loftin has also provided the residence as a safe haven for current MU students. The night of Nov. 10, among Yik Yak threats on campus, he allowed students to stay the night in his house. The mother of former Missouri Students Association Vice President Brenda Smith-Lezama called him to voice her concern about the threats, Loftin said.
“We opened our home up to Brenda and some of the officers of MSA that night because they were afraid to go home,” Loftin said. “Their addresses had been made publicly known. They were very concerned about being targeted.”
Loftin sees himself as someone who is easily approachable and enjoys being around students. He said he meets up with different students for coffee or just to talk at least 2–3 times each week, something that hasn’t changed with his shift in faculty positions.
While many of his friends holding administrative positions at other universities are moving away from their campuses because of the constant noise, the campus environment is something Loftin finds comfort in.
Many students walk past the residence or head toward the Columns after leaving bars in the early morning hours, often making enough noise to wake Loftin.
“It’s not exactly a thing you want to do, but at the same time, it’s a comforting thing to know they’re not driving, they’re safe, they’re with their friends and they’re having a good time,” Loftin said. “That’s kind of a nice little thing. These are things that are part of the life and the pulse of the campus.”
Loftin plans to visit the area of the residence as much as possible once he and his family move. His friend, Larry McMullen, an MU graduate who now resides in Kansas City, asked him to watch over the memorial of his late wife, also an MU graduate. A tulip tree was planted by the residence and two benches were placed on the Francis Quadrangle in her honor.
“I made him a promise when I moved in here that I would always check every day on his wife’s tree,” Loftin said. “I can’t do that exactly, but I will still try to get on campus enough to do that for him.”
Loftin said that being around the MU campus the past two years has made him feel younger. He will miss the campus atmosphere.
“That’s not what you find anywhere else but a university campus,” Loftin said. “Being around students of that age group has a positive effect on me, it really does.”
Edited by Taylor Blatchford | firstname.lastname@example.org