On his last day in office, Kaler bids farewell to the University

After serving for eight years, Kaler will relinquish his leadership of the institution to President Joan Gabel on Sunday.

University President Eric Kaler answers questions for the Minnesota Daily on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at his office at Morrill Hall.

Tony Saunders

University President Eric Kaler answers questions for the Minnesota Daily on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at his office at Morrill Hall.

Dylan Anderson

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler reflected on his time at the helm of the state’s flagship school in an email to the University community Friday as his “remarkable and productive journey” comes to a close.

He emphasized record graduation rates, a growing population of students of color and an increase in students graduating without debt as some of his proudest accomplishments as he departs the University after serving eight years as president.

“Our campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities are models for what higher education can accomplish,” Kaler said in the email. “No matter where you are in Minnesota, the University is truly part of your life.”

Last July, Kaler announced he would step down as president a year before his term was scheduled to conclude. After a year in a fundraising role, he will return to teaching in the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Sciences.

One of Kaler’s signature goals was to reduce administrative spending at the University by $90 million over six years, a mark that will be exceeded by about a million dollars this year.

In his last conversation with the Minnesota Daily in May, Kaler said he was very proud of his work with the University’s Driven campaign, which he said in the email is approaching the goal of $4 billion in donations over his tenure.

Citing 100,000 new donors to the campaign, Kaler said in the email, “Simply put, that many people don’t give of their time or treasure if they don’t believe in the transformative nature of our work.”

Kaler said in May that he doesn’t do well with free time, and will be eager to continue making contributions to the University after a few days off. He said he looks forward to teaching again.

“My wife Karen and I are grateful for our eight years in this role, and we will always view it as the honor of a lifetime to have served you,” Kaler said in the email. “I’ll leave the leadership of the University in the talented hands of Joan Gabel. With her, we are well positioned for a strong future.”