President Kaler’s Biography
When Eric Kaler took office on July 1, 2011, he became only the second alumnus to rise to the position of University of Minnesota president.
In his first year on the job, President Kaler emphasized his commitment to academic excellence and rigor by investing in new faculty positions, and acted on a pledge to keep the University accessible to students of all economic backgrounds by increasing financial aid and limiting the University’s 2012 tuition increase to the smallest this century.
He stressed the importance of the University’s groundbreaking research enterprise, while initiating efforts to contain costs and operate more efficiently and effectively as a steward of public and tuition dollars—with the goal of freeing up resources for the University’s core teaching, research, and public service mission.
In 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano named President Kaler to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council.
Before coming to the “U,” Kaler served from 2007 to 2011 as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. He also was Stony Brook’s vice president for Brookhaven National Laboratory affairs.
Previous to his time at Stony Brook, Kaler was a member of the faculty at the University of Delaware from 1989 to 2007, where he served as chair of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1996 to 2000 and later as dean of the College of Engineering from 2000 to 2007. Kaler was named the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering in 1998.
In 1995, he was a visiting professor at the University of Graz, in Austria. From 1982 to 1989, he was an assistant professor and an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Washington.
President Kaler received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1982, after earning a B.S. degree, with honors, in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1978. He went on to become one of the nation’s foremost experts on “complex fluids,” which have many applications in drug delivery, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing.
Dr. Kaler’s research interests are in the areas of surfactant and colloid science, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and holds 10 patents. He has been a consultant to numerous companies.
Kaler received one of the first Presidential Young Investigator Awards from the National Science Foundation in 1984. He has received numerous other awards for his research, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Colloid or Surface Chemistry in 1998. In 2006, he was the chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry.
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the Neutron Scattering Society of America. In 2010, Dr. Kaler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Eric Kaler and his wife, Karen, a graphic designer, have two adult sons, Charlie and Sam.