R. Bowen Loftin's farewell tour is winding down. The 24th president of Texas A&M has one day left in office before leaving to take the top spot at the University of Missouri.
The 64-year-old's agenda for Monday, his last day on the job, is mostly good-byes. He is having lunch with former President George H.W. Bush and is meeting with donors that afternoon. Loftin joked that at midnight he'll turn into a pumpkin. That's not true; he starts on Feb. 1 as chancellor at Missouri, which has the same responsibilities as president at A&M.
His office in Rudder Tower and his on-campus home are nearly packed. Loftin, an A&M graduate and Navasota native, plans to take Aggie mementos with him up north. He will depart Aggieland less than one month shy of his fourth anniversary as president.
"I've got two piles of things," Loftin said. "I have a pile I can't display at Missouri and a pile I can. Guess which is bigger? I have a whole lot of Aggie stuff I can't put on my wall there. I've got to create an Aggie room in the chancellor's quarters.
"I will display my saber. The [Corps of Cadets] gave me a saber toward the end of last semester that I'm very, very proud of. I'm going to put that behind my desk. Bob Gates did that when he was Secretary of Defense and I think I'll follow his lead."
In addition to the well-wishes of countless students, Loftin has collected athletics jerseys, game balls, pictures, Fish Camp mementos and an SEC Championship ring gifted to him by the women's basketball team.
On Monday, Loftin plans to announce the changes to his social media accounts. Loftin is known for being active on Twitter, but his handle @aggieprez likely won't be a good fit at Missouri. He said Facebook probably won't be a big part of his new plans, as fewer students use it each year.
The last student address of the outgoing president was on Friday to Lindsay Cravatt's second-grade class at Harvey Mitchell Elementary in Bryan. Loftin read an Aggie Cinderella story to the students, fielded direct questions and talked about the importance of reading.
"I read every day for work and I try to find time to read for pleasure as well," Loftin told the 17 second-graders. "Reading is a part of my life every single day."
Loftin's transition out of Aggieland has been emotional, but smooth. The process to find his replacement has already had a bit of turmoil.
The A&M System Board of regents in December held a contentious, yet ultimately unanimous interim president vote. They named Mark Hussey, the system's vice chancellor and A&M's dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the favorite of A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, over Gov. Rick Perry-endorsed candidate Guy Diedrich, the system's vice chancellor for strategic initiatives.
Loftin said he expects there to be some political pressure to be placed on the board of regents when selecting a new president for Texas A&M.
"I think it's everybody's hope [for the search to be non-politicized]," Loftin said. "In the ideal world, it would be done in a very objective way, but that doesn't exist. There is no way to eliminate political considerations from any decision of this nature. … You simply can't do that. The idea, of course, is to minimize it as much as possible to make a choice based on people's skill sets."
Loftin said he has met with Hussey over the past few weeks to help the transition process go smoothly.
"Being a vice chancellor and dean is part of the routine here," Loftin said of Hussey. "It's not like an outsider coming in, like I'm doing at Missouri. He knows a lot about what's going on right now."