page 12 monday 12.9.2013
thebatt.com Winter safety tips from University police The University Police Department offers tips for avoiding theft for students studying for finals in public areas or who plan to leave their residences unattended during the winter break.
thebattalion Editor’s note: This is the last print issue of The Battalion for the fall semester. Publication will resume Jan. 13.
Livestock judging team wins national championship
Grads weigh in on superstitious graduation date
Goodbye for A&M president R. Bowen Loftin
Members of the livestock judging team, a student organization, break down the process of judging livestock in the wake of the program’s 12th national championship.
Friday the 13th may be an iconic unlucky date in popular culture, but for the more than 3,000 students who will graduate Dec.13, the expression takes on a different connotation.
A farewell reception will be held on Dec.12, offering students what might be a last chance for a selfie with University President R. Bowen Loftin.
MANDELA’S IMPACT ON TEXAS A&M
NEW GRANT FOR HEALTH CENTER
PAGES 6-8: OUTGOING LOFTIN REFLECTS ON HIS A&M TENURE
goodbye thebattalion monday, december 9, 2013
12/8/13 10:06 PM
page 11 monday 12.9.2013
STAFF PICKS Bowl Season
Chik-fil-A Bowl (24) Duke vs. (21) Texas A&M
Alamo Bowl (10) Oregon vs. Texas
Editor-in-Chief Record: 33-21
Managing Editor Record: 34-20
Sports Editor Record: 26-28
Sports Desk Asst. Record: 40-14
Graphics Chief Record: 35-19
Copy Chief Record: 29-25
I hesitate to bet on us right now
Pour some out for Johnny’s A&M career
At this point, I’m just hoping to break .500
Let’s pretend the season didn’t end this way
This isn’t shooty-hoops
All the points
The Alamo isn’t kind to Texans
This is easy, extremely easy
Ducks are going to quack some skulls
Capital One Bowl South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina (9) South Carolina vs. (19) Wisconsin
Cotton Bowl (8) Missouri vs. (13) Oklahoma State
Fiesta Bowl (6) Baylor vs. (15) Central Florida
Rose Bowl (4) Michigan State vs. (5) Stanford
Sugar Bowl (3) Alabama vs. (11) Oklahoma
Orange Bowl (12) Clemson vs. (7) Ohio State BCS Championship (1) Florida State vs. (2) Auburn
Team Johnny will play for next season
What’s in your wallet?
Oregon I’ve seen “The Mighty Ducks.” They win the championship. Duh
Wisconsin I know a badger could eat my face off, and I respect that
Gamecocks seem rowdy when provoked
If Manziel isn’t a Texan in ’14, will Clowney be?
Carolina proved its worth in a win over Clemson
Give us Loftin back :(
I wish Dorial GreenBeckham were an Aggie
I guarantee this game combines for 100+ points
An old Big 12 barn burner
Don’t poke the Tigers
Mizzou rhymes with the best words. Kazoo, fondue, musk kangaroo
Fun fact: Sully went to Baylor
Remember the last time Clowney played in a bowl?
I figured Chick-fil-A wouldn’t let the Blue Devils in their bowl
I just don’t think UCF is good
I wish UCF had the talent to compete with Baylor
UCF can’t hang with the Bears
The mean green grizzly machine
A 300 reference or something
Cardinal beats Sparty at their own game
Michigan State had their fifteen minutes
They’ve got Christmas trees for mascots. This is their time to shine
Their mascot is Knightro. It’s like a medieval Power Ranger
I mean, have you seen their campus?
David Shaw: the next Texans coach (#ByeSchaubiak)
AlaBAMA won’t lose twice
The Stoops-troll will get Stoops-trolled
The Tide isn’t kind to SEC haters
Stoops will hate himself so much
Who would’ve thought this would happen?
Big Al the elephant just seems real chill
Ohio State I’m picking the Buckeyes because they remind me of pirates
I don’t care enough to be clever
Minutes I’ve spent watching the Big 10: zero
The Tigers have talent, but Ohio State is deadly
I swear Braxton Miller wears rockets for cleats
Clemson has an interesting past with the Orange bowl
They’re on fire. War Damn Eagle
Reality: this is a blatant attempt to catch William
Michigan State should’ve biten the bullet for nonSEC
The SEC does it again
Nice try, non-SEC teams
Aubie is a good name for a tiger. So is Bernard
Come on Johnny. Don’t be a sellout
I’d buy at least seven No. 2 jerseys
Manziel just isn’t there yet. Period.
Can the Brownies not ruin this quarterback?
The NFL is for grandpas
I want Johnny to win the basketball Heisman
MANDELA’S LEGACY FELT AS FAR AS A&M Global icon’s death inspires reflection, admiration from Aggies Allison Rubenak
The Battalion eloved for his lifetime of seeking justice, unity and harmony, Nelson Mandela witnessed the end of an apartheid policy he fought to eradicate after 27 years of imprisonment, and was elected as the first black president to a democratic South Africa. Nelson Mandela died Thursday at 95. Mourned by world leaders and lay people alike, A&M’s students and faculty remember him for his powerful scope of influence. Warren Chalklen, curriculum and instruction graduate student from Johannesburg, South Africa, said he had the opportunity to meet Mandela in 1995 and 2009. He was introduced to Mandela’s grandson, Bambatha Mandela, through a mutual friend who went to primary school with the grandson, he said. “I spent a lot of time with Bambatha [Mandela] and I got to know the family very well,” Chalklen said. Chalklen said he would be partaking in the Xhosa mourning period, a tradition of Mandela’s Xhosa tribal background, from his current Texas residence. “I connected to the family in a deeply personal way,” Chalklen said. “It’s one that you almost feel as though you’ve lost a family member, especially in terms of Xhosa. In African culture, when we lose someone, even though they are not necessarily related to us, they’re still our family.” Originally from the West African country Sierra Leone, Violet Johnson, director of Africana studies, said she learned of Mandela and the other freedom fighters in South Africa who were struggling against the apartheid regime as a child. She said the struggle for justice was universal and that it could be felt not just in South Africa, but around the world.
In African culture, when we lose someone, even though they’re not necessarily related to us, they’re still our family.” — Warren Chalklen, curriculum and instruction graduate student “I think the biggest impact of his death is that it is an opportunity to reflect about social injustice in the past, some continuing injustice in the present and what we can do about that, just learning about that from his life,” Johnson said. Johnson said she thought one of Mandela’s greatest impacts was how he fought for social and political justice in a “multidimensional” way. Mandela was unrelenting in fighting for African justice, she said, but also focused on forgiveness and reconciliation taking place among groups of different races, nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds. Moriam Animashaun, senior psychology major and president of the African Students Association, said Mandela’s leadership and his effective communication skills impacted the way she views her own leadership role. “Mandela was an amazing leader,” Animashaun said. “He taught me how to lead but in a humble manner. Although he was president, he still made it to where he didn’t use his power to belittle others.” Larry Yarak, associate professor in the Department of History, teaches History of Africa and History of South Africa. Yarak said over the years, his students have been
Warren Chalklen (back row, third from left), curriculum and instruction graduate student from Johannesburg, South Africa, poses for a photo with Mandela (center) in 2009. reading Mandela’s writings, including the famous speech given by Mandela at the Rivonia trial before his imprisonment in 1964. “I include mentioning him in all my courses because he is one of the most important political figures, if not the most important political figure of the 20th century,” Yarak said. Chalklen said Mandela’s legacy has
changed his life and that he has dedicated himself to uphold the values he believed Mandela emphasized — dignity, kindness, respect, love and care. “This man’s example is something that reminds humanity that there is a greatness out there, that there is the ability to overcome and most importantly, the ability to achieve a just world,” Chalklen said.
12/8/13 10:44 PM
page 10 monday 12.9.2013
Public hearing spotlights tuition increase Lindsey Gawlik
The Battalion ith student loan after student loan, Cameron Fawcett, senior mechanical engineering major, has borrowed and saved to afford an education. Fiscal burdens are certainly not uncommon among students across the country, and a proposal submitted by University officials calling for an increase in tuition at A&M has sparked conversation and concern among students like Fawcett. The proposal, which would raise the tuition of incoming freshman for the 2015 fiscal year by up to six percent and tuition for current students by up to two percent, was announced at the Dec. 4 public hearing by the Council for Strategic Budgeting as a means of complying with House Bill 29, which requires all Texas public universities to have a guaranteed tuition rate. At the hearing, Karan Watson, Texas A&M
ANSWERS FOR TODAYS PUZZLES
provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said the University will be cutting 7,200 instructional enhancement fees and replacing them with fixed rate fees based on the college each student is enrolled in. These cuts, combined with the requirement that the University must give 20 percent of its tuition income to financial aid, are the reason for the tuition increases, Watson said. Despite this reasoning, Fawcett said he is concerned that the Universityâ€™s tuition increases will cause more students to use loans to pay for their schooling. â€œIt makes it harder for students with little income support to manage their finances,â€? Fawcett said. â€œThe tuition increase is also going to increase student dependence on loans and other financial aid.â€? Watson said the increases are minor and tuition rates will still reside well below the rates at the University of Texas, Texas Tech Uni-
versity and The University of North Texas. Additionally, Watson said the proposals would come with certain benefits. This fixed rate would allow new students to know in advance how much their entire college career at A&M would cost, Watson said. Watson said seniors will appear to be paying the least and freshman will appear to be paying the most, but this is only because the fixed rate calculates with inflation â€” the immediate six-percent increase for incoming freshmen will compensate for inflation in the upcoming years. â€œIt will, on average, mean that the students are paying slightly more than they are paying today on their course fees, but the only increase is to offset that set-aside,â€? Watson said. â€œThe advantage to doing this is it will allow us to manage the funds better. It will increase the funding for need-based financial aid.â€? Dulce Perez, Spanish and biology double major, said higher education has become less
accessible to those with limited funds. â€œI feel that theyâ€™re making education a luxury and they shouldnâ€™t because thereâ€™s so many people with tons of potential,â€? Perez said. Watson said A&M simply had to generate enough funds to comply with federal and state laws, while also having enough funds to run smoothly. Watson said the plan rests on the notion that if funds were collected simply on an as-used basis, A&M wouldnâ€™t meet those requirements. There were nearly 50 attendees at the hearing and around 60 online watchers. James Kim, senior aerospace engineering major, said students will not even realize tuition has gone up. â€œI remember comparing tuition among the different universities I was accepted to, but it wasnâ€™t a deciding factor in my decision to attend A&M,â€? Kim said. These proposals made by The Council for Strategic Budgeting will be discussed and submitted as a recommendation to the University president who must then recommend it to the University System and the Board of Regents before it can be put into action.
page 3 monday 12.9.2013
A&M slotted for Chick-fil-A Bowl against ACC runner-up Duke James Sullivan The Battalion
exas A&M accepted an invitation to compete in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against ACC runner-up Duke, the University announced Sunday evening. The matchup, at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, will serve as the initial meeting between A&M (8-4, 4-4 SEC) and Duke (10-3, 6-2 ACC), as well as both programsâ€™ first visit to the postseason destination. Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO, said the top-tier matchup was the ideal setup for the bowl as it will pit a Duke squad coming off an unprecedented successful season and a Texas A&M team with a national following and media presence. â€œGetting a matchup like this is like getting to open your Christmas presents early,â€? Stokan said. â€œPitting a 10-win Duke team, coming off its best season ever, against an SEC powerhouse brand like Texas A&M is going to create a very compelling shootout that weâ€™ll
get to show off in front of a sold-out crowd in the Georgia Dome New Yearâ€™s Eve.â€? The Aggies enter the bowl game coming off two consecutive road losses, falling to LSU and Missouri to close the season. A&Mâ€™s four losses came to teams ranked No. 2, No. 3, No. 8 and No. 16 in the final BCS standings, a factor Chick-fil-A Bowl representative Matt Garvey said was key in selecting the Aggies. A&Mâ€™s offensive prowess was noted as an element in the decision, Garvey said, as sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel led the unit to top-10 statistical rankings in passing yards, scoring offense, pass efficiency and total offense. The attraction of A&Mâ€™s television ranking, which stood second only to defending national champion Alabama, was also pointed out as a significant component in the Aggiesâ€™ selection. The bowl game will mark the career finale for 13 seniors on the A&M roster, including 10 starters. Senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. said he anticipates an emotional matchup on the A&M sideline, and expects a strong
effort around the team. â€œ[Duke] will present a great challenge and we will have to prepare well and execute,â€? Hurd said. â€œIâ€™m looking forward to going to battle with these guys who are like brothers to me. As seniors, we have to set the tempo in practice and prepare to the best of our abilities. It is a blessing to have a chance to play one more game in an Aggie uniform.â€? Duke finished its season winning eight of its final nine games, most recently falling to national title-bound Florida State 45-7 in the ACC Championship. Duke has additionally reached many â€œfirstsâ€? on the year, including a 10-win season, a Coastal Division title and appearances in back-to-back bowl games. Head coach David Cutcliffe won the Walter Camp Coach of the Year award and hopes to help the program capture its first 11-win season in school history with a victory over A&M in Atlanta.
â€œWeâ€™re obviously thrilled to be selected to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which continues to have a great partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference, and to have the opportunity to play against a terrific Texas A&M squad,â€? Cutcliffe said. â€œThe Chickfil-A Bowl has long been considered one of the top-tier and most prestigious bowls across the college football landscape and Atlanta is without a doubt one of the college footballâ€™s premier cities. Iâ€™m extremely excited for our seniors, who will finish their careers as the first group in Duke history to play in back-to-back bowl games.â€?
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thebattalion 12.9.2013 page9
an ad Phone 845-0569 Suite L400, Memorial Student Center Texas A&M University
THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER
or those about to graduate in a few days, this goes out to you.
In May of 2012, I had a close brush with death. I flipped my car four times while driving home after spring finals. I remember it all — over-correcting after I let my eyes stray from the road and bracing for the car to flip. I remember clearly thinking I was going to die. Thankfully, I am still here today and not in too terrible of shape. I broke my neck and two ribs, which punctured my lung and required a chest tube, which is probably the most painful thing imaginable. A plastic surgeon had to reconstruct the last three fingers on my right hand with metal. My left arm went out the window while the car flipped, so there are some nasty scars that make it look like I was attacked by a shark. (I may have told a few people that, too.) I dislocated and broke the bones in my shoulder, tearing my rotator cuff off the humerus — none too humorous, mind you — forcing me to have surgery seven weeks after my wreck, which is miserable knowing you have to go through all that again. After about nine months of physical therapy, I was able to use my arm again. While my shoulder is still far from normal, I can lift it and live a regular life, something I was honestly afraid would never happen. I tell you all this to say that college is a time when everything alters. Obviously, not everyone is going to face death in the four years here, but plenty of challenges will crop up. The semester before my wreck, I decided to change my major from biomedical sciences, where I was hoping to become a veterinarian, to English. Try telling that one to people. I know those are on total opposite sides of the spectrum, but I hated science and I was terrible at it and I love to write. This choice was met with obvious resistance from my parents. While I don’t blame them for their concern, it didn’t
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On May 11, 2012, Mackenzie Mullis was in a car accident that left her in the hosiptal for five days. help alleviate the worry I had or make my decision any easier. I am thankful everyday that I went with what I knew was best for me and my parents understand that now, too. I had no idea that a college course could be something that you can actually enjoy. I learned that sometimes the truth you are told growing up is really just a series of opinions. You have to question and research, even if that means going against what you have always known or what others say is best for you. If you know what is right for yourself, have the courage and audacity to go for it, no matter how hard it is or how much opposition you may face. While in college, I also met my boyfriend. (I am not a sap at all, but here it goes.) We were in the same Bible study and we started out as great friends, which eventually led to dating. My wreck happened on our five-month anniversary. The whole time we were dating up to that point, I just could not bring myself to say those three words, not that soon anyway. He had said them and as much as I hated hurting or embarrassing him, I told him I couldn’t reciprocate. When you are faced with death, though, life falls into perspective. When I opened my eyes as I hung upside down in that car, I knew that I had to tell him I loved him before I died. I was finally able to say it — both of us crying — while I was in the ICU covered in blood and glass. Three days after the accident, he had to leave to go overseas for a two-month mission trip to East Asia. We said goodbye and I didn’t see him again until the middle of July. Through all of this, I learned that the time to voice how you truly feel is not when the opportunity is almost taken
from you. Don’t wait until you are dying to tell people you love them. While it may lend itself to a more dramatic flair, I don’t recommend it. They say college will be the best time in your life. While it has been incredible, despite everything I’ve been through, I refuse to believe that lie. If this is the best, that means when I walk that stage on Friday, nothing in my life will amount to more than my experiences here and nothing in my future can live up to these last few moments. I don’t want to look back on my life, cataloging and critiquing my chapters, ranking the “best” and “most memorable” moments against the “worst.” I want to look on my life knowing that happiness came from the totality of it all, not the bits and pieces — happiness through the worst and the best of circumstances. I am a nostalgic person, but sometimes that can be a poison. Graduation is teaching me to drop the golden-age thinking — the past isn’t better than the future and the future isn’t better than the past. Life is always going to be hard, but it is also always going to be beautiful and an adventure. While I am, of course, sad to leave A&M — a semester early, too — I now know that life isn’t a series of moments but it is cohesion, linked together to form solidarity.
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page 8 tuesday 12.9.2013
Loftin Continued from page 7
in general, has a huge impact on families,” Loftin said. Loftin recalled his experience with the single mother of a student who had committed suicide. Loftin said the student had no Aggie background before coming here, and his mother, who came to College Station alone for the Silver Taps honoring her son, looked lost and had no real knowledge of Aggie culture. “I don’t think her grief was lessened, but she shared it with 10,000 people,” Loftin said. “That was very special.” Social media as a means of connecting with students Loftin said the central focus of his job is the students. “It’s very easy, as an administrator, to forget why you are here,” Loftin said. “You get caught in the minutia of the day, there’s always problems to solve. My days are long and complicated and not fun all the time, but I hope I am remembered as a person who loved students.” Having once been a student at Texas A&M, Loftin said he felt he didn’t have any means of directly communicating with the president during his undergraduate career. “My president was Earl Rudder,” Loftin said. “Famous iconic president here at Texas A&M, but someone I never met. I
thebattalion never met Earl Rudder and I never dreamed of going up to him and saying, ‘General Rudder, could I have a picture?’” As president, Loftin said he promised himself he would be accessible and advances in social media allowed him the opportunity to keep that promise. “I follow quite a few students,” Loftin said. “There are typically around 60-70 students that I follow at any one time and they range from freshmn through graduate professional students in all kinds of majors, so that’s very deliberate. I don’t pick people in a totally systematic way, but I do have systematic approaches to picking a random bunch within each of these kinds of categories.” In any spare moment throughout the day — between meetings, or in the elevator — Loftin said he is constantly checking social media. From tweets about water leaks and bus service issues to course and faculty concerns, Loftin said he has found that following Twitter allows him to see the University through the students’ eyes in a way that is otherwise impossible. “Now, 95 percent of your tweets are not about that,” Loftin said. “They’re fairly personal, I don’t worry about that, but maybe five percent of what I see looking through the Twitter feed, every now and then, is valuable to me because it lets me know what is going on campus as you see it, not as an administrator would see it. That’s very important, so I know oftentimes
what’s going on here long before a vice president or director or some senior administrator might know it.” Loftin said his use of social media allows students to directly contact him with questions and problems and for him to directly respond back or redirect the question to a University official better suited to answer it. Loftin’s use of social media is rarely matched across the nation and unprecedented at the University, he said. “There are five living former presidents to Texas A&M,” Loftin said. “None of them, to my knowledge, are on social media right now. It’s not them, it’s just history. I’m at a point in history between my sort of being a techy guy and also having the right moment in time to take advantage of this.” As for the next president, Loftin said he has no idea who will take his place or what means they will take to connect with students, but he sincerely hopes that he or she shares his same philosophy. “I’m here for you — that’s my philosophy,” Loftin said. “This place wouldn’t exist without you, and so, therefore I should be reaching out to you and listening to you as much as I possibly can and social media gives me that ability. I would pray that the next person at least has the same philosophy about you being the most important thing here. They might choose different methods, but I’m not sure what you’d find right now that gives you the ability that we have to connect.”
the ultimate gift. Perfect for any aggie.
The 111th edition of Texas A&M University’s official yearbook chronicles the 2012-2013 school year — traditions, academics, the other education, sports, the Corps, Greeks, campus organizations and seniors and graduate students. The 2013 Aggieland is on sale at the Student Media office, Suite L400 of the Memorial Student Center. Hours: 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday. $85 plus tax. Cash, check, VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Or, pre-order the 112th edition of Texas A&M’s Aggieland yearbook. Distribution of the 2014 Aggieland will be during Fall 2014. Go to http://aggieland.tamu.edu or call 979-845-2696 to pre-order by credit card. Or drop by the Student Media office, Suite L400 in the MSC.
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Grant to improve women’s health A&M to fund exams, pap smears, vaccinations Jennifer Reiley The Battalion
razos County has some of the highest incidents and mortality rates associated with breast and cervical cancer in Texas, said Dr. Jane Bolin, a professor in the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health. In an effort to reduce both of these rates, the Texas A&M Health Science Center received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas on Nov. 22 to fund women’s cancer prevention efforts in the Brazos Valley community. Dr. David McClellan, principal investigator on the project and assistant professor of family and community medicine with the TAMHSC College of Medicine, said in a press release that the grant will directly impact the health of local women. “The grant will address a critical unmet need for breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention activities in the Brazos Valley,” McClellan said. “Ultimately, we hope to increase the number of low-income, underserved Texas women who receive clinical breast exams, pap smears and HPV vaccines.” The grant money will be put toward funding cancer screenings for women with no health insurance or with a history of high copays. The A&M Health Science Center will be able to provide women in the local community with inexpensive healthcare and refer women to secondary clinics if follow-up treatment is needed. “These women don’t go in for normal check-ups,” said Bolin, co-principal investigator for the grant. “With the grant, [uninsured] women can have the same amount of care as those of us with insurance. One example is that more women will be able to get pap smears. Catching cancer early is going to be a lot cheaper than treating it when the woman is actually sick.” Bolin said the grant will also help fund vaccinations in the community to protect women from HPV, a disease that has been found to cause several types of cervical cancer. “The grant will pay for up to 1,000 women to have the HPV vaccine,” Bolin said. “This is significant because expo-
sure to HPV can remain silent in regular screenings. People can prevent HPV in the coming generations.” Chinedum Ojinnaka, graduate research assistant at the Southwest Rural Health Research Center through the School of Rural Public Health, said the grant money will benefit A&M’s community. “Through this grant, Texas A&M will positively impact the lives of the underserved women who will have an opportunity to receive free [or] subsidized screenings, which may result in early detection and removal of precancerous lesions,” Ojinnaka said. “Thus, Texas A&M could potentially positively impact breast and cervical cancer mortality rates in our community.” Along with assisting and educating the community, the grant will also affect the education of students in the School of Public Rural Health at Texas A&M. Ojinnaka said the grant will give nursing students the opportunity to participate in breast and cervical cancer simulations for the three years that A&M is funded by the grant. Ojinnaka said the simulations will provide hands-on experience that will prepare students for medical careers. “Through this grant, Texas A&M will provide multidisciplinary patient management opportunities to nursing students and resident physicians,” Ojinnaka said. “Studies have shown that multidisciplinary team management improves patient outcomes. Therefore, through this grant, Texas A&M is training students in valuable skills that will benefit the patients that will be cared for by these students in the future. This could serve as a model for multidisciplinary training at other medical and nursing schools.” Bolin said the Health Science Center is working to inform the community of the health opportunities the center is offering. “We are handing out coupons and letting people know what the Health Science Center is offering,” Bolin said. “The key is earning the community’s trust and we have workers who are bilingual who are willing to work in churches to help spread awareness.” Bolin said the Health Science Center is also working with local organizations that serve the uninsured by offering reimbursement for their services, such as pathology, ultrasound and radiology.
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pages 6 & 7 monday 12.9.2013
Outgoing A&M president Loftin imparts philosophy of student connection Aimee Breaux The Battalion
hile University President R. Bowen Loftin will step into the position of University of Missouri Chancellor on Feb. 1, the story of his career in higher education is in many ways a tale of give and take with Texas A&M University. Loftin’s relationship with Texas A&M started when he was a 16-year-old junior at Navasota High School and he decided to pursue a career as a college professor. “I’m not sure exactly how to characterize it, how it came to me, but I decided that I really wanted to be a college professor,” Loftin said. “That’s what I really wanted to do. I had no background with it — my parents never went to college, nobody in my family went to college before I came along — so this is not something I knew much about.” He knew his rank as a National Merit Finalist would enable him to find a quality school for his undergraduate education and he knew he wanted to stay in his home state, so he said he applied to the University of Texas, A&M and Rice. All three Universities accepted him with a full-tuition scholarship, but Loftin said he soon discovered this would not cover all of his expenses. “I learned right away that this was going to be a problem, because we had no money in my family,” Loftin said. “Even though I had a scholarship to cover tuition, it took a lot more money to cover the cost of fees, books, room and board — things like that.”
Outgoing University President R. Bowen Loftin, who will assume the position of chancellor at the University of Missouri, has been visible on campus at events such as the groundbreaking of Kyle Field renovations (right) and the opening of the renovated Memorial Student Center (bottom left).
Student leaders on Loftin legacy
Loftin said he began thinking about starting school a year later in order to work and raise money, but Texas A&M officials wrote back to Loftin individually and said a former student, who died a few years earlier, left money in his will for an endowed scholarship for a physics major like Loftin. “So I went from a tuition-only scholarship to a full ride,” Loftin said. “So A&M became a real choice — the only choice, really, from a financial standpoint, but from a compatibility point of view, too.” Having visited what Loftin described as the “crowded and less-than-friendly” University of Texas campus and the beautiful but residence hall-centered Rice campus, Loftin said he found the Texas A&M campus to be the most compatible. While a college of 10,000 students isn’t big by today’s standards, attending such a college in 1967 was a big step for Loftin, who came from a high school of 300 students. “I’ll never forget my first chemistry exam, the class average was 15 out of 100, and I made a 25, I think, on the test,” Loftin said. “I didn’t want to feel good or bad about that. It was a hard course, but it was a very challenging experience for me, coming here from a small place.”
The transition to administration
While Loftin’s aspiration was to become a professor, somewhere in his 40 years of higher education experience he unwittingly began the transition to administrative positions. The shock of the shift hit him when he was conducting research at the University of Houston with 45 people under his
“We were standing next to each other one Silver Taps and he leaned over to me and told me the exact number of students that have lost their lives while he was president at Texas A&M. I bet you he could tell you each and every single one of their names.” John Claybrook, 2012-2013 student body president
direction. “It was a slow thing — it wasn’t like it was overnight,” Loftin said. “Slowly, I grew into that different role. I realized I was becoming more administrator than I was a pure faculty member.” While Loftin has been a teacher and researcher for most of his life, he hit a point in his career when he had to make a choice. Loftin said he had two options — go back to his roots as a professor or continue down the path of expanding research through an administrative route. “I thought about it quite a bit and I loved what I was doing, teaching and mentoring students, but also I enabled people to do what they wanted to do,” Loftin said. “I had a lot of junior faculty working with me by then, a lot of people who had their Ph.D.s were working as research associates, getting ready to become professors later on and they all depended on me for money and for guidance. So I was doing much more day-by-day leadership and mentoring the people at that level than I was actually teaching classes.” Ultimately, Loftin went to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., in 2004 and took on the position of executive director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, before leaving in 2005 to become Vice President and CEO at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Spending two days per week in College Station and five in Galveston, Loftin said the seaside microcosm of Aggieland was a nice place to grow as an administrator. He said his time in Galveston gave him the background he needed to become University
“Besides the legendary bowtie, his legacy is without a doubt his compassion and love for his students. Every day he worked for his students and was available and approachable to the student body.” Reid Joseph, 2013-2014 student body president
president. “All of the pieces of the job here are there, with one exception — athletics,” Loftin said. “Everything else is just the same, except the scale. It was a good place to train myself. I learned a lot about running a University campus because as a faculty member, researcher and administrator, I never really worried about student affairs, the physical plant, the police force, the book store, the dining halls. When I became the CEO down there, everything was on my plate.” At Galveston, Loftin was able to simply walk around campus to get all of the information he needed to do his job well. “You could walk across campus in five minutes,” Loftin said. “Can’t do that here.” On June 15, 2009, Loftin made a step up as interim president at A&M and was named president eight months later.
the board was not unified about it and there were a lot of political things happening in the state that led us not to make it happen that particular time around.” To encourage the board to approve the switch to the SEC the second time around, Loftin said, he worked in partnership with Regent Jim Wilson and Jason Cook, thenvice president of marketing and communications. Loftin said Cook helped shape the University’s message — something the University had little control over before. “In 2010, we were not ever in charge of the message,” Loftin said. “Other people kind of wrote it for us and that was not good. There was a lot of division in the family here. I would say it was 50-50 on the transition into the SEC. It was 95-5 in 2011 and I owe [Cook] a lot for that.”
The switch to the SEC
The hardest part
While the Galveston branch of Texas A&M had a varsity sailing team and a varsity rowing team, Loftin said one of the most difficult elements of the University presidency to balance at first was athletics. “That’s what took up most of my time here initially, just to grapple with athletics,” Loftin said. Loftin said one of the most gratifying moments of his presidency was the Board of Regents’ approval of the move to the Southeastern Conference. “It all started back in 2009, when I became interim president,” Loftin said. “It kind of grew and grew, and in 2010 we made an attempt to make it happen then, which did not work out. That was because
While the decision to move to the SEC was paramount enough in Loftin’s career as University president, he said without hesitation that the most difficult aspect of his presidency has been the loss of students. “I’ve lost 72 students since June 15, 2009,” Loftin said. “I don’t know all of these students. I’ve maybe met a dozen of them personally. That’s been the hardest of all. I reach out to the families after I learn of their death and offer my condolences and sympathies.” Loftin said the spirit of Aggieland makes a difference in times of mourning. “The things we do here, and Silver Taps See Loftin on page 8
“You saw him being active on Twitter. It was almost like he was the one reaching out to students to take pictures with them and meet their needs, so from that perspective I think he was really embodying the Texas A&M core value of selfless service in the way that he ran his presidency.” Will Brooke, 2013-2014 MSC president
Photos by Tanner Garza and Roger Zhang — THE BATTALION
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