Kaler to Gov. Dayton: the U creates jobs

Gov. Mark Dayton held a job creation summit Tuesday.

Kevin Burbach

Gov. Mark Dayton held a summit to address MinnesotaâÄôs need for jobs Tuesday, and higher education played a key role in the discussion.

The daylong event in downtown St. PaulâÄôs Crowne Plaza Hotel brought hundreds of education, business and legislative leaders together âÄî including University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler âÄî to discuss MinnesotaâÄôs future.

âÄúI have the answers to the fundamental questions weâÄôre all asking,âÄù Kaler said to begin his speech. âÄúPublic higher education, our friends at [Minnesota State Colleges and Universities] and the University of Minnesota âÄî we deliver jobs for this state.âÄù

Kaler boasted the UniversityâÄôs successes, like its importance as the sole research university in the state, but warned of future repercussions from a lack of funding.

âÄúIf we continue to disinvest in the University, in higher education âĦ we absolutely will not discover new things.âÄù

Kaler said he will begin to work with Brenda Cassellius, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, and MnSCU chancellor Steven Rosenstone to collaborate the stateâÄôs education system.

âÄúWe want to work to create pathways for students to move from the final years of high school to a two-year school and on to a four-year school,âÄù Cassellius said.

The University recently announced the school will accept fewer transfer students starting next year. Many of the schoolâÄôs transfers come from MnSCU, but Kaler said he didnâÄôt think the cut would dramatically affect the relationship of the two systems.

Dane Smith, president of Growth and Justice, a non-profit organization that researches and creates economic policy proposals, implored Dayton to take aggressive action on education in Minnesota during a panel.

âÄúWe need to make this a big dang deal. We need to sear it into the public conscious. We need to make this a crusade.âÄù

Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, an author and professor at Johns Hopkins University also spoke at the summit.

Touching on multiple subjects, from the environment to the economy, he said that addressing problems in the nationâÄôs educational system will be important for the countryâÄôs future.

âÄúThe problem of the students at the bottom of the education achievement gap âĦ they simply donâÄôt have the skills to make a living in the world of the 21st century,âÄù Mandelbaum said.

 âÄúIf you donâÄôt have [sufficient education], youâÄôre not going to make it.âÄù

Dayton closed the day by reiterating the collaborative theme of the summit.

âÄúI want to reinforce the sign in my office that says, âÄòNone of us are as smart as all of us.âÄô âÄù