Just got off the phone with Kathryn VandenBosch, chair of the University of Minnesota’s faculty consultative committee. She was at the meeting when Kaler was named.
Here are some of her thoughts. I’ve edited some of her comments.
On her first impressions:
My first impressions are very good. I was hoping we’d have a senior officer from a strong research university, hopefully a public university, and someone with academic chops who’s run a research program and been in the classroom and held leadership responsibilities of increasing scope. (Kaler seems to fit the bill in these areas.)
On his academic chops:
I couldn’t have hoped for his level of scholarly achievement. I’m enthusiastic about his faculty background. He’s a strong researcher, he has been in the classroom and has such a high profile in research. He has patented research, which is important to understand a university like this. He is definitely a good grant-getter in his area of expertise.
On his administrative chops:
He understands the working parts of a university. He sat in our seats, and he understands the workings of a complex institution. It’s half our size, but it’s comprehensive, with a medical school, liberal arts school and business school. There’s no ag school, but then there are only 2-3 universities that have the breadth we do. But he has a pretty academic kind of CV, so I haven’t been able to set yet what his accomplishments were in his administrative positions.
On areas of his background that are still unclear:
His CV is silent about fund-raising experiences (outside of grant-writing.) Also, we haven’t yet seen anything like a vision statement for the university. He doesn’t bring diversity, but the question is what his track record is of promoting diversity. And we need to know whether he has the ability to value and develop a shared vision with the non-science areas of the university.
On his U of M ties:
Coming back to his PhD institution I think indicates a level of interest and achievement. … He clearly knows something about the university.