U harnesses social media to promote new @PrezKaler

Karen Kaler selected 16 students to trail the president.

Jeff Hargarten

Nancy Mourad always had an interest in social media. Now she is getting a chance to use her hobby as a resume boost.

Mourad, a student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, is joining a 16-person crew trailing President Eric KalerâÄôs every move throughout his inauguration week.

The students will follow Kaler during his visits to campus departments, the unveiling of his presidential portrait and his inauguration ceremony.

Karen Kaler, the presidentâÄôs wife, personally helped select the candidates out of 100 applicants.

Winners were selected based on a brief description of a photograph featuring Kaler on the steps of Northrop Auditorium chatting with two students. Think of a caption contest, but in 140 characters or less.

The campaign idea came from a group of staff and students and was promoted across all University departments in August, University spokeswoman Elizabeth Giorgi, said.

Mourad said she was unaware of the program until her advisor urged her to check it out.

An established Twitter account was a stipulation for all applicants.

Mourad was uncertain what would be involved in serving as KalerâÄôs online representative until after she was chosen. But, she said, it was âÄúmuch bigger than expected.âÄù

All chosen students will have their names and Twitter accounts promoted online, and all their faces will be displayed at SaturdayâÄôs Gopher football game at TCF Bank Stadium. The entire entourage will be in attendance, Mourad said.

Mae Kindler, a biology major, said her résumé was already updated with what she called âÄúan honorâÄù when she submitted it to an employer, she said.

She was interested in how heavily involved Karen Kaler was in the program, and met her for the first time Wednesday.

Kindler anticipates meeting Eric Kaler for the first time Thursday âÄî her first tweeting shift âÄî for his inauguration ceremony. Limited space will keep many people from attending, but she hopes to share pictures with the public.

The students were instructed to send updates every few minutes, which Kindler called âÄúa fun challenge.âÄù

Tweets like âÄúMrs. K is busy socializing but still has time to rock her #mullet shoes (business in the front …. party in the back)!âÄù have been pouring into KalerâÄôs Twitter feed since Monday.

The students use an iPad to stream Twitter updates and pictures, and take turns following Kaler around in small groups.

Mourad completed her three-hour Twitter shift Monday, a day where tasks were divided between seven students.

Meanwhile, Kaler signs his own updates with âÄúDr. K,âÄù whenever the inspiration to tweet strikes him, Giorgi said.

At press time, KalerâÄôs Twitter account âÄú@PrezKalerâÄù had around 750 followers. About 50,000 students are enrolled at the University.

Tweeting a presidentâÄôs inauguration in the way the 16 students have been doing has never been done before in academia, Giorgi said.