Kaler must lead, not react

The University president should show leadership on campus issues.

This Thursday, President Eric Kaler will outline his agenda for the upcoming year in his State of the University Address.

While the University has dealt with many of the same issues in the past year, problems like campus safety and tuition have evolved and presented new challenges. During the past year, the University community faced a potential merger of two of its colleges, an attempted armed robbery on campus and questions on the future after the first tuition freeze in decades.

Kaler should give credit for the University’s successes, such as the two-year tuition freeze for some students, additional state investment and new initiatives to retain a diverse student body. However, Kaler shouldn’t steer clear of speaking on challenges and how his administration plans to act on future problems, rather than simply react.

The University must find answers to questions on the horizon. How will campus adapt to house the Vikings and national sporting events? What is the strategy for the University’s recent real estate purchases? Will the University’s transit corridor change the face of campus with a light-rail line on the way? How can we ensure that people of color feel welcome on and around campus?

We urge students, staff and faculty to not take this moment to talk directly with the University’s leader for granted. Interested people can submit questions in advance, at the event or via Twitter, using the hashtag #UMNsotu. The University faces numerous questions in the next year, and discussion now can help to find the best answers.