Speeches and Writing

Greetings from President Kaler

Email to all University faculty and staff
June 27, 2011

Dear Colleagues,
 
Last week my wife Karen and I completed our move from New York to Minnesota. This Friday I will move the final boxes into my new office on campus and begin work. Karen and I are thrilled to call Minnesota home and are looking forward to exploring this great state and its great University in the coming months.

I am deeply honored to have been selected by the Board of Regents as the 16th president of the University of Minnesota. When the selection was announced back in November, I remember thinking that I was standing at a remarkable intersection of affection and opportunity.

Affection because my four years on campus as a graduate student transformed me. I loved being here--the intellectual stimulation, good friends and lifelong mentors and teachers made it an extraordinary experience. It's corny, I know, but the U has a special place in my heart. As for opportunity, there are few public research universities as energetic, diverse, curious, innovative and central to the economic health of their state as is the University of Minnesota.
 
Combining my personal affection with our collective opportunity is, I believe, an unbeatable combination for our success in the years to come. As I begin my presidency, I am ready to work hard to help lead this dynamic place and advance our critical mission as the state's only public land-grant research university. This institution is among the very best in the country and I look forward to being our most visible and vocal champion.

The case I'll make is simple: The University of Minnesota is our state's glowing gem, and we must fight to preserve its statewide role, its national rankings and its ability to prepare young Minnesotans to be the best and smartest they can be. From Duluth to Morris, from Crookston to Rochester, and from the couches of Coffman Union to laboratories on the St. Paul campus, we are a collection of people, places and programs with a tradition and a spirit that must flourish, and not be allowed to wither away.

Although we are at a crossroads, one at which severe budgetary challenges are crashing head-on with our university's unique history and stature, I am incredibly optimistic about our future. I know that we will not only merely meet the challenges at hand, but also emerge from these difficult times as a more focused and entrepreneurial organization.

I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the thousands of individuals and 15 presidents who came before me and built this solid foundation. I also owe a special thank you to President Bob Bruininks. Because of his leadership, the University is poised for even greater success, and I am grateful for the chance to build on his legacy.

Last week the Board of Regents passed a budget that sets our course for the next year, given what we knew about our state appropriation. This is a difficult budget. As we face a state government shutdown, the University will continue to fulfill our teaching, research and outreach obligations and we are confident that we can absorb a short-term impact with minimal disruption. We hope that continuing negotiations will be helpful to the University.

Just like the new and returning students I look forward to greeting this fall, I have much to learn and, I hope, much to offer. My family and I are honored to be a part of this community, and I am grateful for the chance to work with you to keep the University of Minnesota great.
 
Sincerely,
Eric W. Kaler
President