Scholarship News

Texas A&M President Too Popular on Facebook


May 6, 2011
by Suada Kolovic
Having too many friends on Facebook seems like an unlikely problem for the president of a major university to have, but R. Bowen Loftin, the president of Texas A&M, isn’t your average administrator. Mr. Loftin not only has a Facebook account but accepts friend requests from his students. And while you’d assume students would cringe at the thought of friending such an authoritative figure, it’s in fact the exact opposite: He’s so popular that he’s hit Facebook’s max of 5,000 friends.

Having too many friends on Facebook seems like an unlikely problem for the president of a major university to have, but R. Bowen Loftin, the president of Texas A&M, isn’t your average administrator. Mr. Loftin not only has a Facebook account but accepts friend requests from his students. And while you’d assume students would cringe at the thought of friending such an authoritative figure, it’s in fact the exact opposite: He’s so popular that he’s hit Facebook’s max of 5,000 friends.

Diana C. McDonald, the college’s director of social media and marketing programs, says the Mr. Loftin likes the personal interaction of having a Facebook profile rather than say a Facebook fan page. “Our president is definitely not in the ivory tower,” she says. “We definitely don’t want to put him there.”

Mr. Loftin is so distraught that he’s solicited advice on what to do via – what else? – his Facebook wall. He asks his friends, who are mostly students, “I have a lot of friends requests pending, so I am asking for your advice on how best to keep connected to all of you.” And suggestions are pouring in. Some propose Mr. Loftin seek other social networking sites, possibly defriend those who weren’t his real friends or even start a Twitter account. With all the issues students are facing – crippling debt, soaring unemployment rates – is this really an issue a university president should focus on? Would you friend your school’s president?

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