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U. of Missouri President and Chancellor Resign Amid Mounting Protests Over Racism

[Last updated (11/9/2015, 5:40 p.m.) with news that R. Bowen Loftin would also resign.]

A week after a graduate student, Jonathan Butler, said he wouldn’t eat until Timothy M. Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri system, resigned, Mr. Wolfe announced on Monday he would step down.

The flagship campus’s chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, announced late Monday afternoon that he too would step down from his post. Specifically, he said he would be making the transition to a new, research-focused role in the system by the end of the year.

The pair of surprising announcements, which bookended a special meeting of the system’s governing board, came amid increasingly fierce calls for Mr. Wolfe to resign over concerns about racism at the Columbia flagship. Giving the movement national prominence, university football players over the weekend threatened a boycott until Mr. Wolfe resigned.

While taking responsibility for “frustration” and “inaction,” Mr. Wolfe on Monday also criticized the dialogue that led to his resignation. “It is my belief we stopped listening to each other,” he said, according to a transcript posted by The Columbia Missourian. “We didn’t respond or react. We got frustrated with each other, and we forced individuals like Jonathan Butler to take immediate action and unusual steps to effect change.

“This is not, I repeat not, the way change should come about,” he added.

Tensions over racism have been festering in Columbia for months, beginning in September with the student-body president’s viral Facebook post stating that he had been accosted by men who shouted racial slurs. A movement calling itself Concerned Student 1950 has been holding demonstrations for weeks on the issue, and Mr. Butler began a hunger strike on November 2.

But the movement gained wider attention on Saturday, when black members of the university’s football team said they would boycott team activities until Mr. Wolfe resigned. The coach, Gary Pinkel, on Sunday tweeted a statement of support for the players.

Mr. Wolfe had resisted calls to resign as late as Sunday evening, saying he was “confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses.”

In a statement on Monday, Jay Nixon, the state’s Democratic governor, said Mr. Wolfe’s resignation was “a necessary step toward healing and reconciliation on the University of Missouri campus.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Butler ended his hunger strike shortly after Mr. Wolfe’s announcement:

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