Kaler talks staff picks, future faculty, Fourth plans

He also discusses new policies on administrative leave packages.

Emma Nelson

President Eric Kaler sat down with the Minnesota Daily to talk about new administrators and faculty, administrative leave packages and his plans for the Fourth of July.

Pam Wheelock was recently appointed as vice president for University Services. What do you hope she’ll bring to the University?

We had a very impressive pool of candidates. I was struck by Ms. Wheelock’s breadth of experience. She has been in significant administrative roles in state government, in city government, in the sports industry and in the health industry. She brings an enormous wealth of experience to the University and, in addition, she’s a proven senior executive who will bring good executive skills to my leadership team.

Previously, she served as the interim president and was also on the board of directors at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which provides the University’s Student Health Benefit Plan. How do you think her relationship with the company will affect her role at the University?

As you move through a career, you have business relationships with different

businesses. If there’s an issue that emerges between the University and Blue Cross that might represent a conflict of interest, then we could manage it, but I don’t see that happening.

The search for the vice president for Equity and Diversity had to be extended, and new candidates chosen. What are the next steps?

We are in the process of expanding the pool of candidates and Senior Vice President [Robert] Jones is managing that search. We’ll work to further develop the pool of candidates. That’s a very important position for the University, and it’s really important to me that we get the absolute best person in the country to come do that with us.

At the June Board of Regents meeting, professor Chris Cramer reported that the University Senate adopted a resolution regarding the upcoming marriage amendment. It called on “Minnesota citizens to reject deliberate and overt discrimination by voting against the proposed constitutional amendment.”

Is the University as a whole going to take a similar stance?

The statement of the Faculty Senate represents the point of view of the faculty and staff. I don’t plan on making any further statement on that.

The ad hoc committee on administrative leave packages presented its findings at the meeting. Do you feel that the actions of the committee are a step in restoring public trust?

Oh, absolutely. I think that the committee made a series of very healthy changes in how we do business that I support. Those policies were drafted up in close collaboration with my staff, so I support those changes.

A big part of your approved operating budget is investing in new faculty — about 100 new people. Is this something that’s going to be happening across the University, and when do you plan to have those new faculty members in place?

Those funds are allocated as part of what’s called the budget compact process, which is how the budgets get developed for all of our units, and so those dollars will be available for hiring in this fiscal year. It typically takes a year or two to hire faculty once you get the approval to do so, but I would think by the end of the next academic year we should have most of those people on board.

Any Fourth of July plans?

My younger son is visiting, and we’ll look forward to a relaxing day with him, probably a cookout with some friends and just relaxing.