Kaler seeks support for four-year programs

Although Kaler said the recent proposal to make two-year community college free in Minnesota was a good first step, he said all of higher education needs state support.

Logan Wroge

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said lawmakers shouldn’t overlook four-year degree programs in response to a recently proposed bill that would offer some students two years of free community or technical college.

DFL legislators in the Minnesota Senate proposed the bill last week, however Kaler said at a press conference Tuesday that there will always be a need for professionals in four-year degree fields, including dentistry and other health care professionals.

“I think the state should support higher ed more broadly,” he said. ”I think the ability to get those first two years out of the way is important, but we don’t want to limit our horizon to that level.”

President Barack Obama announced a similar bill Thursday that would offer some students free tuition at community and technical colleges.

The University requested $1.3 billion from the state Legislature in its 2016-17 biennial budget request. $65 million would fund a continued tuition freeze for undergraduate students who pay in-state tuition, and a similar freeze for resident graduate and professional students.

Some of the funding would also go toward research and academic initiatives, including mining research and training more health professionals.