Eric Kaler named 16th president of University of Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/18/2010) — The University of Minnesota Board of Regents today voted unanimously to name Eric Kaler as the 16th president of the university, succeeding President Robert Bruininks, who returns to the faculty in June 2011. The vote to approve Kaler came after two days of public meetings with the finalist and members of the university community, a public forum on Wednesday and a public interview at the board meeting. Kaler, 54, will be only the second university alumnus to serve as president of Minnesota’s land-grant and research university.
“One thing is very clear about Eric Kaler: the more you get to know him, the clearer this decision becomes,” said board Chair Clyde Allen. “The board’s impressions — and those of the university community — are that he is a talented researcher and teacher, effective administrator and gifted communicator. These are all qualities that will serve him well as the next president of the University of Minnesota.”
Allen added, “Although for many in the university community, it may seem like they just met Eric Kaler, his selection today is the culmination of a six-month process, that literally involved hundreds of people. After reviewing and recruiting candidates and resumes, we’re very pleased to have reached this point, with such an outstanding president-designate.”
“The University of Minnesota has held a special place in my heart,” said Kaler. “This is an institution with an amazing history of achievement and a central place in the hearts of Minnesotans, but there are some enormous challenges on the horizon. It is truly humbling and a true honor to have this level of confidence bestowed upon me. Karen and I look forward to getting to know this university — and this state — even better in the coming months.”
Kaler currently serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and vice president for Brookhaven affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. Appointed as the ninth provost of Stony Brook in October 2007, Kaler received his undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1978 and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1982. Prior to his appointment at Stony Brook, Kaler was a member of the faculty of the University of Delaware from 1989-2007. He served as the Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1996 to 2000 and Dean of the College of Engineering from 2000 to 2007. Kaler was named the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering in 1998. He was an assistant professor and an associate professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington from 1982 to 1989.
In 2010, Kaler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. He also received the Curtis W. McGraw Research Award from the American Society of Engineering Education in 1995, the American Chemical Society Award in Colloid or Surface Chemistry in 1998, and distinguished lectureship awards around the world. In 1984, Kaler was one of the first to receive a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. He is a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. He is the author or co-author of one edited book and over 200 papers, which have been cited more than 9,000 times, and holds 10 U.S. patents. Kaler’s research interests are in the area of surfactant and colloid science, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics.
Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University now serves nearly 24,000 students and has 2,100 faculty. It is a member of the Association of American Universities and co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining an elite group of universities, including Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Cornell, MIT, and Princeton, that run federal research and development laboratories.
Kaler will assume the presidency of the university on July 1, 2011.
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Alex Friedrich reports on higher education issues for MPR News. Among the stories he has covered: the fall of the Berlin Wall, aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, 2003 Moscow suicide bombing and 2004 presidential elections in the Republic of Georgia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s in European political economy from the London School of Economics.