No wonder Richard Wallace keeps saying it’s hard to leave MU. About 400 faculty and staff members gathered at a reception Thursday to celebrate the chancellor and his nearly 40 years of service to the university.
A long line of well-wishers snaked out of the Reynolds Alumni Center ballroom, as administrators, faculty, staff, students and community leaders waited patiently to shake the departing chancellor’s hand. Both Wallace, who will step down in August, and his wife, Patricia, took a few moments to acknowledge the guests.
“I suspect it’s been the longest retirement in the history of mankind,” Wallace said before the reception.
The organizers of the event were prepared to meet, greet and feed 800 people, but even the geometric-shaped pieces of cheese, fruit and vegetables, and cupcakes iced with “MU” and tiger paws couldn’t distract those in line. Wallace, in his trademark dark blue coat and a lei of flowers around his neck, was the afternoon’s main attraction.
Speaking at the reception, MU provost Brady Deaton, who will take over as interim chancellor, said he thinks of Wallace as a mentor, a friend, a guide, a confidant and a leader.
Marty Oetting, director of MU governmental relations, brought Wallace and his wife two framed proclamations from the Missouri House of Representatives.
Deaton also presented Wallace with a night photograph of the lighted Jesse Hall dome with the MU columns in the foreground.
Wallace also received a memory book, which included letters from faculty, staff and community members.
Ken Hutchinson, UM system vice president of human resources, drew the biggest applause as he said his goodbye to the chancellor.
“Job well done Richard,” Hutchinson said.