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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The bowtie is back

R. Bowen Loftin participated in the Kyle Field ground breaking.
File photo
R. Bowen Loftin participated in the Kyle Field ground breaking. File photo

The man who helped engineer the transition to the SEC will step foot on the newly renovated Kyle Field for the first time Saturday. The bowtie is back in Aggieland.
Former University President R. Bowen Loftin returns to A&M this weekend for the Missouri football game as chancellor at the University of Missouri. Loftin said his life has not changed much since his time at A&M. Although the student body is smaller than at A&M, he said his interaction with students at Missouri is very similar to that in Aggieland.
“The special part of it has been recognizing the students here have a lot in common with my students back at Texas A&M, it’s been very special,” Loftin said. “I wasn’t sure about that, I really didn’t know many students here when I arrived. We had a bit of social media interaction before I got here and that escalated pretty rapidly. It has been very heartwarming to me to realize that again the same kinds of students tend to come to a place like this.”
Loftin said he has gone back to his roots at Missouri serving on the faculty in the physics department, but with a job as demanding as that of chancellor, he doesn’t have time to teach full-time. Loftin said he instead occasionally serves as a guest professor to talk with students about leadership.
“I do have a lot of time with students in classroom settings but talking about what I do now more than what I used to do,” Loftin said. “It keeps me in contact with students in a very direct way and gives them a chance to ask me questions about how I got to where I am, which may help them decide on their future career paths and so on.”
Reid Joseph, former student body president and industrial distribution senior, said Loftin was the same caring man in front of a large crowd as he was in a one-on-one setting. Loftin’s willingness to give up his time to help students speaks volumes of his character, Joseph said.
“He was always ready to help students in whatever way possible,” Joseph said. “Whether that was shaking their hand and talking to them, giving them advice, taking a selfie or writing them a letter of recommendation, he made sure that he made time for his students.”
Loftin said he continues to engage students through social media, and even though he has only been at Missouri for a short time, his Twitter following grows every day. Loftin said it took him three years during his time at A&M to gain a following in the high 20,000s, but in less than a year at Missouri he has gained 19,000 followers.
Receiving around 50 to 70 tweets from students per day, Loftin hasn’t hung up his Twitter hat yet. Loftin said he answers questions every day to make sure he can properly address an issue, observation or question that students may have about the university. Loftin said students sometimes share with him accomplishments that they have made or just tell him how they are feeling that day.
“You learn a lot about the university by observing it through the student’s eyes and those 140 characters are pretty insightful sometimes,” Loftin said.
Student Body President Kyle Kelly said Loftin’s social media presence made him an iconic figure at Texas A&M.
“I was amazed on how he used social media to connect with thousands and thousands of students,” Kelly said. “I was always impressed by that.”
Loftin said his bow ties have continued to be a major theme in Missouri as he has taken on the name of @bowtieger on Twitter.
“I created the bowtieger name or handle for my Twitter account from student input actually,” Loftin said. “The students here sort of suggested several ideas, that being one of them, and I tested it with a bunch of students here and the bowtieger kind of came out as the winner.”
Joseph said he will always remember when Loftin spoke at the last Midnight Yell before his departure. Joseph said he also had the opportunity to speak that night and wore a bowtie in honor of Loftin, making the moment special for him.
Since his departure in January, Loftin said he misses A&M and looks forward to the trip back to Aggieland. Loftin said he wouldn’t miss the trip back to A&M for the world and that many people have invited him to events, tailgates, interviews and even a book signing at Aggieland Outfitters.
“Lots of students have reached out to me and asked when I’m coming back, and they’re looking forward to seeing me,” Loftin said. “I am trying to find the right place to do it. Hopefully between Midnight Yell practice on Friday and being around campus a bit on Saturday I’ll have a chance to see quite a bit of the students I have been missing a lot.”
Playing a key role in Texas A&M’s movement to the SEC, Loftin said he has not had the chance to see the newly renovated Kyle Field in person and is looking forward to stepping onto the field at the game.
Loftin said A&M’s transition to the SEC was a milestone for the university and something he wished to preserve before his time was up at A&M. Loftin said his book, “The 100 Year Decision,” records his experiences at the helm of the SEC transition, highlights the events of A&M’s surprising 2012 football season and gives some history about the road to the SEC conference. Aggieland Outfitters has invited Loftin to do a book signing Friday afternoon from 4-6 p.m. Loftin said he has signed about 1,100 stickers for the books in preparation for the event.
The relationships formed with students have always been a unique aspect of Loftin’s legacy.
Larisa Escorza, animal science senior, said she remembers joining Loftin on a university visit to her hometown while talking to him about her experiences, background and future goals at Texas A&M.
“He gave me advice and followed me on Twitter to keep in touch,” Escorza said. “I love his affability and genuineness.”
Shaun Bruner, history senior and cadet, said Loftin was always friendly with the Corps of Cadets.
“If he ever saw some cadets eating alone in Sbisa, he’d join them and ask them how they were doing,” Bruner said. “He always cared about them as the keepers of the spirit.”
Amanda Montoya, health senior at A&M, said the first time she saw Loftin in his bowtie she pointed and said, “He’s so cute.” Montoya said he was such a good sport as he smiled and waved at her.
Joseph said whomever becomes the next A&M president has big shoes to fill due to the love that was shown through everything Loftin did at the university.
“All the time he invested, the stuff that he went above and beyond in,” Joseph said. “There’s nothing in the requirements that said he had to attend all the sporting events that he did or be present with the students, having that time and making that time.”
Loftin said he will always remember the love he experienced at Texas A&M.
“I loved the students at Texas A&M, I still do, and I had a love back at me as well and that was very special,” Loftin said. “You can’t really create that, it just happens. I am very fond of all of you that I had a chance to interact with … those five years were very special to me.”

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  • R. Bowen Loftin participated in the Kyle Field ground breaking. File photo

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