University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler appeared on TPT's Almanac on Friday to talk about his first 100 days in office. Here, some highlights. (For Kaler's take on football coach Jerry Kill, watch the full interview.)
I know you’ve been meeting with CEOs. Is that your best bet to replace some of this… dwindling state funding? To partner up with different firms?
There are a lot of moving pieces in that conversation and the business community in the state of Minnesota does need to be part of the solution. Not only just as a partner with us in commercializing or carrying out some research, but also as an important part of the conversation with thought leaders across the state about the value of the University of Minnesota to the people of Minnesota
What are you hearing from the CEOs?
Very positive things. I think everybody understands that having a world-class research university adds enormously to the quality of life in Minnesota. That’s part of the draw that attracts talented people to come to Minnesota, and those companies need talented people to come to Minnesota.
I was talking to a faculty member who said… the message from you has been shape up or ship out if you’re a faculty member who’s just not pulling their weight. How is that message playing?
I’ve gotten very positive feedback from many faculty and staff about that message. It’s a little bit softer-edged than what you laid out, Kathy, but the idea is, take a look at what you’re doing. The University of Minnesota is a great place to be. If you’re a little stale or a little tired, reinvent yourself.
There’s always a surprise on any new job. What’s been the biggest for you?
I have been continually surprised by two things: One is the passion people have for Gopher athletics and the second is the enormous diversity of really excellent things that we do. It’s really been a thrill to have been able to discover nearly every day a center, an institute, a faculty member’s research that’s just fabulous.