Pres. Kaler's message to UMN: "Pick up the pace"

University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler sent out an email to faculty and staff on Sunday that recapped recent legislative action and hints at how he’d like to see the U change in the future.

First, Kaler notes the lumps the U took in the budget agreement between Governor Mark Dayton and lawmakers to end the state shutdown.  The U took a $90 million dollar cut over the next two years.

But Kaler said, it could have been worse.

In the end, however, the reduction was not quite as bad as expected; $25 million (recurring, beginning in FY 2012) was restored during the special legislative session.

Kaler wants the board of regents to let him to use that $25 million to reduce the burden of tuition and fee increases on students.  In the past, Kaler has said any tuition relief probably won’t show up until next fall.

The good news, according to Kaler, is that the U fared well in the state’s bonding bill.

… that included $88.8 million for the University. The highlight is $51.3 million for a critical new Physics and Nanotechnology building on the Twin Cities campus. There were disappointments, too, about projects overlooked, which we plan to revisit.

In the email, Kaler said he’s met plenty of Minnesotans who show genuine support and affection for the U and the work it does.

But Kaler has also heard from critics, and passed on their less than flattering assessment of the U’s performance.

Too many people perceive us as aloof and arrogant, slow and unresponsive. I’ve heard from people both within and outside of the University that we need to have more of a sense of urgency and efficiency in what we do.

Kaler’s solution, “pick up the pace”.  And he asked faculty and staff to do a better job of delivering the message about the positive things the U of M does for the state.