Kaler wraps up week of inaugural celebration

After unveiling his portrait Friday afternoon outside Coffman Union, President Kaler joked about the appearance of gray hair in the photo.

Erin Westover

After unveiling his portrait Friday afternoon outside Coffman Union, President Kaler joked about the appearance of gray hair in the photo.

Greta Kaul

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has been on the job for nearly three months, but Saturday marked the end of his inaugural week celebration.

The new president was officially inaugurated Thursday during a ceremony at Ted Mann Concert Hall. He outlined his plans for the University in a speech after Gov. Mark Dayton handed him the University mace âÄî a traditional symbol of leadership.

Starting last Monday, Kaler visited colleges, communities and families in the greater Twin Cities region to introduce himself and learn more about the University from their perspective. He helped release a raptor at the Carpenter Nature Center, attended the Gopher football game and threw a pitch for the Minnesota Twins.

âÄúFrom the pacemaker to the black box, from open heart surgery to Honeycrisp apples, the UniversityâÄôs history is rich and profound,âÄù Kaler said as he emphasized the schoolâÄôs importance to MinnesotaâÄôs economy. âÄúIf we donâÄôt invest âĦ we absolutely will not discover new things. Instead, we will wither as a university, and we will decline as a state.âÄù

State support has dwindled over the past two decades and now makes up less than 20 percent of the UniversityâÄôs budget, triggering tuition hikes and cuts to programs. Kaler has put together a committee to address ways to make the University run more efficiently with fewer resources.

In his inaugural speech, Kaler promised to cut the size of administration each year heâÄôs president and address inefficiency within departments.

 âÄúIf your research is stale, if your classroom is boring, if your community engagement is ineffective âÄî you must reinvent yourself, or, frankly, you must step aside,âÄù Kaler warned faculty Thursday. âÄúAs you expect me to deliver on my job, I expect you to deliver on yours.”

Friday, on KalerâÄôs 55th birthday, his presidential portrait was unveiled in front of Coffman Union. It will hang alongside the portraits of his 15 predecessors in CoffmanâÄôs third floor PresidentâÄôs Room.

Standing next to his portrait, Kaler tweeted from the @PrezKaler account: âÄú#UMN students: You are why I’m here. Thx for the great week, the portrait and the Maroon and Gold welcome. #GoGophers! #MNall – Dr. K.âÄù