Dr. R. Bowen Loftin Named Sole Finalist for President

January 21, 2010

Texas A&M University Interim President R. Bowen Loftin was named sole finalist for the position in a vote today (Thursday, Jan 21) by the nine-member Texas A&M University System Board of Regents to lead the nation’s seventh-largest university following an extensive nationwide search.

Loftin, who will be eligible to become president after a state-standard 21 day waiting period, will immediately begin meeting with various groups of current and former students, faculty, staff and community leaders to seek input and discuss his vision for the future of Texas A&M.

After the 21-day mandated period has expired and the regents have had the opportunity to receive any pertinent comments from constituents, they will have the option to meet as soon as possible to take final action.

Board Chairman Morris Foster said: “In his short tenure as interim president, Dr. Loftin has clearly demonstrated a keen ability to successfully lead the complex billion-dollar teaching, research and service enterprise that is Texas A&M today. He has helped significantly enhance the university in a number of key areas, with particular success in advancing the programs that provide the essence for the imperatives of Vision 2020, the university’s roadmap to recognition as one of the top public universities in the country.  In addition to his impressive skills as a teacher and researcher, Dr. Loftin has a proven record as an exceptional and visionary leader of character with sound financial management skills and good instincts. He is a ‘consensus builder,’ but also he is a man who knows how to make tough decisions.

“I look forward to working closely with him as we continue to address many important issues facing the university, such as the realities of uncertain economic times, while ever mindful of our firm commitment to ensure that Texas A&M students continue to receive a top-quality education at an affordable price,” the regents’ chairman concluded.

Prior to assuming his current role, Loftin served for four years as university vice president and as chief executive officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston, the university’s marine-oriented branch campus, where he also is professor of maritime systems engineering. Loftin was widely applauded for his leadership during Hurricane Ike which resulted in moving the entire Galveston campus operation to the main campus in College Station – an effort believed to be unprecedented in higher education.

“I am humbled and deeply honored to be named the sole finalist to lead Texas A&M, truly one of the best universities in the nation,” Loftin said.  “Our unwavering commitment to maintain a culture of excellence as outlined in Vision 2020, as well as to our core mission of teaching, research and service, will play an integral role in enhancing our status among the top universities anywhere.

“This is an exciting time for Texas A&M, even as we navigate a period of financial uncertainty. We are extremely fortunate in this regard in comparison to many of our peer institutions across the country. This is a time of significant growth–in student enrollment and research and related functions that benefit the citizens of Texas and beyond. We are also striving to enhance our infrastructure, including construction of new buildings,  and significantly addressing our existing buildings to support our ambitious endeavors.

“Of utmost importance, we will continue to attract many of the best faculty anywhere to teach and conduct important research and scholarship intended to help improve the economic vitality of Texas and the rest of the nation—and to enhance lives everywhere.”

Texas A&M System Chancellor Michael D. McKinney said: “I am pleased that Dr. Loftin has been identified as the sole finalist to lead the flagship university of the A&M System. His outstanding leadership at the Galveston campus during a period of tremendous growth and major challenges was highly impressive.”

Chairman Foster expressed special thanks to members of the presidential search committee: “On behalf of the entire Board of Regents, I’d like to express heartfelt gratitude to the 16-member presidential search committee led by Regent Richard Box for the group’s tireless efforts and strong commitment to finding the very best and most qualified individual possible to guide our flagship university. The search committee did an outstanding job of seeking input from various constituents – current and former students, faculty, staff and all other members of the Aggie community – to help ensure that the best individual, in this case Dr. Loftin, was recommended to serve in such an important role.”

As a 1970 physics graduate of Texas A&M, Loftin, subject to final approval, will join the ranks of a select few individuals chosen to lead his alma mater.  He also holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice University, earned in 1973 and 1975, respectively, both also in physics. Born in Hearne, Loftin grew up in Navasota, located about 20 miles from the Texas A&M campus.

Prior to assuming leadership of Texas A&M at Galveston, he served at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, as professor of electrical and computer engineering and professor of computer science. Additionally, he was Old Dominion’s director of simulation programs and had responsibility for the institution’s graduate programs in modeling and simulation. He also served as executive director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. Earlier in his career, Loftin was professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the NASA Virtual Environments Research Institute at the University of Houston.

Dr. Loftin is a frequent consultant to both industry and government in the areas of modeling and simulation, advanced training technologies, and scientific/engineering data visualization. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 technical publications.

He serves on numerous advisory committees and panels sponsored by governmental and professional organizations. His numerous citations and honors include the University of Houston-Downtown Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Service (twice), the American Association of Artificial Intelligence Award for an innovative application of artificial intelligence, NASA’s Space Act Award, the NASA Public Service Medal, and the 1995 NASA Invention of the Year Award.

Loftin is married to Dr. Karin Loftin, who also is employed at Texas A&M as an associate biosafety officer.