Eric Kaler to make first visit to campus as finalist

His first appearance is a Q&A session at Coffman.

by Conor Shine

Lone University of Minnesota presidential finalist Eric Kaler will make his first public appearances on campus Wednesday and Thursday as part of a âÄúfinal check-upâÄù with the University.
Kaler, currently provost at Stony Brook University in New York, will participate in a public question and answer session at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Coffman Union Theater.
Kaler will have separate, private meetings with University deans, the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC) and
regents professors throughout the day.
Thursday morning, Kaler will meet with leadership from the UniversityâÄôs foundations and community businesses, as well as school administrators and student leaders.
The Board of Regents will hold a final, public interview with Kaler at 11:45 a.m., Thursday.
Regents Chairman Clyde Allen said while the board feels Kaler is the best candidate, the meetings will allow the University community to weigh in.
âÄúIs he as good as we think?âÄù Allen said.
If all goes well in the meetings, Kaler could be named successor to outgoing president Bob Bruininks by the end of the week, Allen said.
Four semi-finalists were considered by the regents at last weekâÄôs meeting. Two candidates withdrew from consideration and Kaler, who received a chemical engineering doctorate from the University in 1982, was the only candidate named a finalist and invited to campus.
Dan Garon, spokesman for the Minnesota Student Association, said heâÄôs looking forward to sitting down with Kaler and is âÄúoptimisticâÄù about the visit.
âÄúWeâÄôve heard phenomenal things. HeâÄôs a qualified candidate,âÄù Garon said. âÄúOur goal is to make sure the next president of the University of Minnesota has the concerns of students at heart.âÄù
Student leaders from MSA, as well as the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Student Senate, will participate in the meeting. Garon said the groups have already been planning questions.
Leaders hope to discuss what role students should play in the UniversityâÄôs decision-making process and KalerâÄôs stance on keeping tuition affordable, Garon said.
Kate VandenBosch, chairwoman of the FCC, said she wants to learn more about KalerâÄôs vision and priorities for the University.
âÄúWe have a pretty good picture of his academic scholarship from the materials that are publicly available,âÄù she said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to want to know about his administrative philosophy.âÄù
VandenBosch said FCC members started compiling questions before Kaler was named and plan to focus on big-picture issues during their hour-long meeting.
âÄúI hope we get a clearer picture for âĦ how he feels [the University] is a good fit for him,âÄù she said.