My heart is heavy, and I join with other members of the Mizzou family in sharing concern for the health and well-being of one of us—Jonathan Butler. Mr. Butler is a person of principle who is dedicated to raising awareness of and finding solutions for the pernicious problems of racism, discrimination and bias. While I cannot encourage him to put his health at risk, I support his right to peaceful protest and his efforts to raise awareness of the injustice that he and other people of color face in their everyday lives and at the university.

Racism has deep roots at our university. Racism shapes the current climate for and educational experience of all of our students. We must create a better future. I, together with our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters, commit to working each day to find solutions, to define new pathways for culture change and to strive to make our university an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

We continue to actively seek out and be informed by the voices of anyone who has experienced hate, discrimination and marginalization because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or other protected status or – as happens all too frequently – based on the intersection of these identities. We are working to implement an inclusive process to improve the climate at MU and welcome ideas from members of the community to advance our goal of systemic and cultural change that truly moves Mizzou to a better place.

We have already announced initial steps, including creating the position of Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, requiring training for all incoming students, committing to a campus climate survey, and requiring search committees to complete training aimed at diverse and inclusive hiring — all of these steps have been taken with the full support and endorsement of UM System President Tim Wolfe.

While some of the demands of ConcernedStudent1950 cannot be met by MU leadership, there is nothing more important than to work together, with passion and resolve, to challenge intolerance and hate. Every member of my administration stands ready to work with all students, faculty and staff to define, attain and embrace a future that values each human being and enables them, through discovery, excellence, respect and responsibility, to achieve their dreams.

R. Bowen Loftin
University of Missouri