From the Desk of Eric Kaler: Moving Forward

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Fall 2017

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As the 2017-2018 academic year begins and I enter my seventh year as President, I see lots to tackle and many accomplishments to build on. My primary goals remain maintaining and elevating the University’s excellence; increasing diversity among our students and staff; keeping the U affordable and accessible to Minnesota’s, the nation’s, and the world’s most qualified students; and operating our $3.9 billion budget as efficiently as possible (z.umn.edu/budgetumn). As always, I’m committed to our philanthropic efforts, which support all of our goals.

In St. Paul and Washington we must be realistic and open minded in making our case to our partners in state and federal government for investments. Our UMAA-supported UMN Advocates coalition has been successful in urging our friends in the Legislature on both sides of the aisle to support key investments in University infrastructure and in some operating priorities.

Meanwhile, reflecting our national impact on the research and technology transfer fronts, I was among a handful of higher education leaders invited to the White House this summer to meet with President Trump’s domestic policy team. There, I argued strenuously for the importance of federal funding for research to preserve America’s and Minnesota’s innovative cultures.

Among my specific priorities for the coming year is laying the groundwork to restore our medical school to a top 20 ranking. That means achieving our vision for an integrated academic medicine partnership: one that values research and its relationship to our clinical enterprise and provides adequate training opportunities and funding to drive medical school success.

I also want to complete a system-wide strategic plan that examines all we do on all of our campuses and discerns what we no longer can, or should, do.

Even as we face those and other challenges, I strongly reject the misconception that the only news you hear about the U is bad news. Far more times than not, we are the subjects of—and the reasons for—good news. A recent report compiled by our University Relations team indicated that there were 28,000 media mentions of the U, from tweets to scientific journal references, over a threemonth period, and more than 3,000 important stories. Of those stories, 95 percent were determined to be positive. That’s a good number to remember.

Those sorts of stories include:

The remarkable work by our doctors and nurses at Masonic Children’s Hospital to separate conjoined twins;

The discovery by chemical engineering and materials science researchers of a new way to produce car tires from renewable resources;

The Humphrey School and Extension partnership helping communities in rural Minnesota attract more residents and workers;

And more.

Believe it or not, autumn will soon be upon us. That’s when the leaves turn a very convenient maroon and gold and when we gather for Homecoming festivities from October 15 to 21. I hope to see you on campus. Go Gophers!

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MINNESOTA ALUMNI MAGAZINE, Fall2017

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