Community honors Deaton at retirement reception

Monday, November 4, 2013 | 9:43 p.m. CST; updated 6:53 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 5, 2013
MU held a retirement ceremony to honor Chancellor Brady Deaton on Monday at the Reynolds Alumni Center. He will be stepping down from his position Nov. 15 and will lead the new Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development.

COLUMBIA — There were a lot of tears.

At MU Chancellor Brady Deaton's retirement reception Monday afternoon, his wife, Anne, dabbed her eyes. His daughter, Christina Deaton DeMarea, choked up. Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton sniffled. The audience also showed its share of sadness.

It was hard to tell if Brady Deaton himself cried; after so many years in the public eye, he's become adept at maintaining his composure. He's retiring on Nov. 15 after serving nine years as chancellor.

Several prominent speakers, including university officials and local politicians, spoke in celebration of Brady and Anne Deaton. They told different versions of the same story: the couple has been a warm presence at MU.

"I'm guessing most of us came to honor a great academic leader, who is first and foremost known for his warmth, his kindness and his integrity," Middleton said.

Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege called Anne Deaton an inspiration — and a reliable source of food. He said he always left their weekly morning meetings with Ziploc bags full of muffins and pastries.

"I cannot count the times I've looked at them and thought, 'Wow, I need to be a little bit better,'" Droege said. "In my opinion, that is the sign of true leadership. Someone who challenges you everyday without having to say a word."

For nursing professor Marilyn Rantz, Brady and Anne Deaton were cheerleaders and friends. She said a rumor went around that Brady Deaton did cartwheels after hearing about her induction into the Institute of Medicine.

Brady Deaton was a strong leader who guided MU through recent economic hardship, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said.

"Brady was captain of the ship in the worst economic times this state has seen in modern times," Schaefer said.

DeMarea joked that she too has "lived under the leadership of Anne and Brady Deaton."

"The truth is, their philosophies at home are not different than their decisions in the world at large," she said. "Our lives revolved around their work in the best of ways."

Brady Deaton grew up in poverty, she said, but he never felt poor because of his family's "richness of beauty and love." He became the first of the family to attend college.

"The lesson that they taught us the most was that education means nothing and will achieve nothing, if it is not coupled with action that is guided by the deepest compassion, integrity and a courage to stand up for what is right," DeMarea said.

Brady and Anne Deaton won't be leaving MU completely. They are forming the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development, which will be based in Ellis Library.

Middleton revealed that a bench near the Residence on the Francis Quadrangle will be dedicated to the couple, and he presented Brady Deaton with a portrait of himself wearing the Jefferson medallion that he received during his inauguration as chancellor in 2004.

"I know I speak for Anne and me in telling you how honored we are by what you have done today," Brady Deaton said. "This is just very, very touching and it's been an experience for us."

The program ended with a surprise performance of "Make Our Garden Grow" from the operetta Candide by members of the Show-Me Opera.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.

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