U of M president shares his top 10 with Rotary Club

Four months after receiving a visit from the University of Minnesota’s athletics director, the Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary Club welcomed the university’s president.

There was no big announcement on progress of raising $190 million for multiple facilities upgrades for the athletics department.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler spoke at a Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary Club meeting the morning of June 25. Photo by Eric Hagen

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler spoke at a Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary Club meeting the morning of June 25. Photo by Eric Hagen

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler emphasized what has been publicly SAID in the past, which is all $190 million would be privately fundraised but the projects would happen over multiple phases. Some of the notable priorities Kaler mentioned are new practice facilities for basketball and football and a new academics center for all athletes.

“We have a core plan of about $130 million and we are well underway. We are not quite ready to announce a number, but we are well underway towards getting that done,” Kaler said.

Prior to taking over the University of Minnesota presidentcy following Robert Bruininks’ retirement, Kaler was a provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in New York from 2007 to 2011. Before that, he was dean of the University of Deleware’s College of Engineering and he taught at the University of Washington. He is an alum of the California Institute of Technology and has a degree in chemical engineering.

Kaler did his own University of Minnesota Top 10 list.

•10: The University of Minnesota’s relationship with China started 100 years ago when Pan Wen Huen, Pan Weng Ping and Kwong Yih Kum in 1914 became the first Chinese students to enroll. To get to Minnesota, they would have needed to take a steamboat across the Pacific Ocean and then a train across the country. Today, the University hosts more than 2,200 students and scholars from China each year.

•9: With about $800 million in grant revenue, the U of M is the ninth largest public research university in the nation. The National Institute of Health at $271.1 million was the biggest contributor in 2013.

•8: Jerry Kill because of his transformation the football program and for his work in raising public awareness of epilepsy. Last season, the 35 football players named to the Academic All-Conference team, trailed only by Northwestern, a private institution, in the Big 10.

•7: Kaler praised the leadership of faculty such as Dr. Brooks Jackson, who left John Hopkins University to become the U of M’s new dean of medicine. He once held the largest research grant in the history of the National Health Institute to do clinical work on HIV prevention in Africa. Dr. John Coleman heads the political science department was also mentioned by Kaler.

•6: Kaler recognized the Gopher’s women hockey team for winning 62 games in a row, which included two national championships. “I tell people I cannot dial the telephone 62 times in a row without screwing up.”

•5: The Siemens MAGNETOM 10.5T at the U of M is the largest MRI magnet in the world, meaning the best MRI resolution. Professor Kamil Ugurbil, director of the Medical School’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research is also a member of steering committee for President Barack Obama’ BRAIN Initiative which has a goal of mapping the activity of every neuron in the human brain.

•4: MnDRIVE (Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy) for his next two Top 10 points. MnDRIVE is an initiative focused on advancing Minnesota’s economy through improved robotics and advanced manufacturing technology, advanced treatments for brain conditions and securing the global food supply.

•3: Closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color and between the financially affluent and students in less fortunate situations. Kaler is part of the Generation Next coalition of Twin Cities civic, business and education leaders that is aiming to close these gaps.

•2: Tuition freeze over the last two years due to increased funding from the state. Kaler said 36 percent of students last year graduated with no debt. The average debt for the other 64 percent is $30,000, but Kaler said there are some students who have accumulated more than $100,000 in debt, which increase the average reported percentage for everyone. Kaler said the median debt of all students who graduate from the U of M is about $11,000.

•1: The number one positive about the U of M are the people of Minnesota.

“Whether you are an alum, whether you’re a friend, whether you’re a sports fan or whether you come to our hospital, the University of Minnesota is the beating heart in the state of Minnesota.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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