You asked. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler answered.
"Tuition is on my mind all the time," he began, "and we have to find ways to control our costs."
During a chat Wednesday on StarTribune.com, Kaler quickly introduced a theme he'd return to regularly: Falling state funding is a big reason behind tuition increases, and his greatest challenge might be persuading legislators to invest. State funding now makes up just 16 percent of the U's budget, he said.
"Between cost control and state investment, I believe we can stabilize tuition," he continued. "Whether or not we can reduce it, I don't know. But I would like to do so."
The chat was a chance for readers to ask Kaler directly about his first year on the job. Judging from the questions -- and a few rants -- I received beforehand, many readers were eager to hear Kaler's thoughts on tuition, Penn State and how the U ought to change.
"Do you think the current structure of the university (colleges, departments, etc.) is ... a relic of the past?"
From his office computer, Kaler answered 25 queries during the hour, with a mix of seriousness, humor and a smiley face. Read the archive at www.startribune.com/a1558.
On the study of food: "I think we can be the Silicon Valley of discovery for the food industry, and work in that area will be a priority of mine."
On a contract extension for men's basketball coach Tubby Smith: "Tubby has taken the team from some real depths to where I think (and others do, too!) we will have a very good 2012-13 season."
On whether college is worth it: "Sure, there are the Steve Jobs of the world who succeed without a degree or certificate, but I bet most people who work for Apple went to college."
Later, a reader asked what one thing the university "must do better at in the next year."
"I think helping the people of Minnesota and their leaders understand the value of investing in the U," he answered. "But what do you think?"
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168