Speeches and Remarks

Convocation 2013

August 29, 2013
(As delivered)


Good morning! I’m Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, and I’m very happy to share this exciting and powerful moment with you. You have seen the power of the M, which is part of the power of the Class of 2017! Welcome to your new academic home!

I am pleased to have so many of our regents here today, including Chair Rick Beeson, Vice Chair Dean Johnson, and Regents Clyde Allen, Laura Brod, Linda Cohen, Tom Devine, Peggy Lucas, Abdul Omari, and Patricia Simmons.

Welcome to our deans, to our faculty and to our staff…

And a special thanks to the amazing gang of Welcome Week leaders, who apparently drink ridiculous amounts of coffee and have us all totally pumped up! How about a cheer for the leaders!

Now, you might not know this, but there were more than 43,000 high school seniors from across the country and world that wanted to be here with you. But only 5,500 of you made it. We are so proud of you, your accomplishments, and your potential. We know a lot about your wide range of talents from the StrengthsQuest assessment you took.

I’ve taken that test, too. So did our regents and all the senior leaders on campus. Here’s what I learned about myself.

I’m an Achiever. I’m Analytical…as you would expect an alum of CSE to be! Competition is also one of my strengths.

I’m good at Individualization, which is getting different kinds of folks to work together. And I’m a Learner. You better be in this job.

I’m sure you learned some new things about yourself through StrengthsQuest, too. Use that knowledge over the next four years to help you take advantage of all the opportunities you will encounter here on campus.

As you do that, remember that you’re entering a new zone of personal responsibility and accountability. I don’t want to get all serious on you, but please be smart about the choices you make in this new world we call the U. One big mistake can last a lifetime.

We are all here for you, to support you… in and out of the classroom.

Please, make us proud. Look out for your new friends, roommates, and Class of 2017 colleagues. Take care of each other.

And do new and important stuff. Join a club, study abroad, volunteer, participate on an intramural team or a musical group, affiliate with students like you, and, even more importantly, different from you.

Wear maroon and gold. Be Gopher fans. And—this is very important—and I say this from the bottom of my heart… be careful to avoid those other less attractive rodents, like Wolverines or Badgers!!

But know this: going to college, studying at this University, is serious business. All of us up here—the faculty, the staff, our regents—it is our obligation, our duty to provide you with a rigorous world-class education, a deep and wide global outlook, and four years of growth, development, and excellence. And in four unforgettable years we expect you to cross the finish line, a proud Class of 2017.

Take all of the power and energy from this day… take all the power from this M—and carry it forward for yourself, for your classmates, and for the great University of Minnesota!