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Former UM System President Remembered For Hard Work


The first African-American University of Missouri System President died Saturday due to complications from colon cancer. Elson Floyd was UM System president from 2003 to 2007.

After working in the UM System, Floyd moved on to Washington State University. Those who worked with Floyd said he was a likable and hardworking man. He was also a dynamic person who was always on the hunt for a solution. 

Tim Atkins, a former Board of Curators president and a member of the selection committee who hired Floyd, had nothing but good things to say about his time working with Floyd.

“He was the right man at the right time,” Atkins said. “He’ll be missed by a lot of people, and I just wish his family and Washington State the best”

Floyd and Atkins became friends in their time working together, and he described his favorite memory with Floyd.

“We were talking about trying to keep the medical center in Columbia, and I said, ‘Elton we’ve got a real problem. There are some heavy hitters in the Kansas City area, and they really want to make some changes.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Not on my watch, Tom.’ I’ve never forgotten that,” Atkins said.

Scott Charton was another person who worked with Floyd. Charton was, at that time, Director of Communication for the UM System. Charton described Floyd as a committed man who climbed from humble beginnings, and always put the students first.

“There was a story of one student he saw out walking who didn’t have a pair of boots in the winter, and Elson got him a pair of boots. That kind of caring for students was really the mark of the man,” Charton said.

Floyd began his career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he went to school. He then served as president at Western Michigan University before being hired in Missouri. 

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