Kaler talks athletics facility, TFA partnership

He also discussed the University of Minnesota’s 2014 bonding request.

Janice Bitters

The Minnesota Daily sat down with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler Monday for its monthly Kickin’ It with Kaler interview.

Kaler talked about the new $190 million athletics facilities plan and the potential Teach for America partnership with the College of Education and Human Development.

You seemed optimistic [about Norwood Teague’s $190 million facilities plan] during the July 10 Board of Regents meeting, however … what concerns might you have?

Let me sort of talk about that in a little bit different way. So, in my view there are three things you have to do if you want to get something accomplished. The first is figure out what it is you need. The second is figure out how do you pay for it and the third is do it. And so right now we have done step one of those things. … We don’t intend to ask the state for help in that — we think the state dollars should be used for academic priorities, so it’s a private fundraising activity. It might be enhanced by other ticket sales or media revenue. It’s primarily a private fundraising goal.

Congress has agreed on a solution to lower student loan rates for the coming year.  I’m interested to know how you feel about the agreement they have come to.

You know, I’m glad they have reached an agreement. I’m glad the loan rates are lower than they potentially could have been, but it’s a compromise agreement and I think it’s probably the best Congress could do under the current conditions. And I think it provides some certainty so students know what is coming ahead, and that’s a good thing.

Do I wish the rates were lower? Sure I do. I think it is probably all in all a good outcome.

The Board of Regents have a new academic health committee that they started this year … What specific topics do you personally hope they’ll address through this new committee?

Well, this is aimed at really helping the board become more educated about what we do in the academic health space. So it is really a committee about what is the future of academic education, research and patient care at the [University]. So it’s meant to be forward-looking, but also a way for board members to become more broadly educated about what we do in the academic health enterprise.

The University recently submitted a bonding request … for more than $230 million. What are the chances, do you think, that all of that will be met by the state?

Well, I think historically we don’t get all that we ask for, but this will be … a normal bonding year and the expectation is that it will be a pretty robust bonding bill, all in all, and the University should get a good share of that.

In terms of the [TFA] and [CEHD] potential partnership, as you may be aware, that has been a somewhat controversial discussion … Do you think this [partnership] is a good idea?

I think we need a balanced approach. I think [TFA] has some very positive aspects, and I think having that program at the University in collaboration, cooperation or co-existence … with our other teaching programs would be fine. The ultimate decision on this is [CEHD Dean] Jean Quam’s.  

… I understand the reasons that some people are opposed to it, but in the community there are a lot of people who are in favor of [TFA] so I think a balanced approach is something that makes sense for the University.


Read Wednesday’s Daily for Kaler’s thoughts on alchohol sales at Coffman Memorial Union and his plans for the coming academic year.