Kaler on recent controversies


Some local reporters (including me and Tim Post) sat down this afternoon with University of Minnesota president-designate Eric Kaler for a talk.

You can see Tim Post’s upcoming piece on that, but I’ll concentrate on Kaler’s views of recent controversies the U has undergone in the past few months — as well as one of his.

It’s nothing dramatic. After all, he said, it’s been too soon for him to know the whole rundown.

But here goes — and the comments are not verbatim:

On the “Troubled Waters” environmental-film controversy:

“Troubled Waters” will have calmed when I get here. There seems to be a lot of smoke about what seems to be a pretty small fire. But “Troubled Waters” can be addressed in a collegial and friendly way. I think the administration is taking all the right steps.

On the criticism the U has received that its med school’s conflict-of-interest policy is still too weak:

The conflict of interest situation is complicated. It’s part of a national discussion. We should have a robust and state-of-the art policy. It should be a policy developed with faculty. The issue may move past July 1 (and into my administration). We need to be more connected to industry, but the potential for a conflict of interest then increases, so we need to be vigilant.

On whether the U should charge students extra per credit when they’ve already earned enough credits to graduate:

The so-called “Super Senior” may be still be finding himself, but he takes a spot from someone else. You can use the lever of a graduated tuition scale, but you can’t really tell him, “You can’t study anymore.” (At Stony Brook) we’ve moved to a system of priority registration where the Super Senior gets low priority.

On whether the lawsuit against his administration’s decision to close Stony Brook’s Southampton campus might dog him him while he’s here:

One of my objectives is to bring closure to Southampton. When I’m here (at the U) I have to be here. I think once we get out of the court injunction, there are a lot of ideas floating around, and we can put that to bed.