Kaler makes last official visit to Crookston campus
CROOKSTON--University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler made his final official visit to the Crookston campus Thursday by celebrating student accomplishments and riding a horse.
CROOKSTON-University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler made his final official visit to the Crookston campus Thursday by celebrating student accomplishments and riding a horse.
Kaler, who has been president of the system since 2011, is retiring in July and has been spending time at each campus before his tenure comes to a close.
Thursday, Kaler had the opportunity to visit parts of the UMC campus he hasn't seen in his time with the system, including the university's new golf simulator, as well as visit with students. Kaler even rode a horse for the first time in 30 years at UMC's equestrian center.
"The future of the university is no longer going to be in my hands in a couple of months, but the memories that I have of this job and of our campuses will stay with me," he said.
Kaler also took part in the university's annual student awards night, where he was gifted a Minnesota cutting board and a locally famous treat, chippers.
The university and community also took Kaler by surprise when Dale Stainbrook, the city's vice mayor, proclaimed April 25 as "President Eric Kaler Day" in Crookston.
The UMC campus has "moved forward nicely" during Kaler's time as president, he said. He believes one of UMC's signature achievements was building its wellness center, which was a need for the campus.
"I've been pleased to work with two outstanding chancellors," he said. "Fred Wood and Mary Holz-Clause have been terrific leaders of the institution during my time here."
Wood was chancellor from 2012 to 2016 and later accepted a position at a university in California. Holz-Clause was named chancellor in 2017.
Kaler said he was happy to see Holz-Clause working on streamlining the administrative structure at UMC and focusing on retention efforts at the school.
The Crookston campus will be launching a pilot program this fall, removing the requirement that prospective students submit an ACT or SAT score. UMC is one of the first schools in the region to consider doing away with the requirement.
"I think it's a good experiment," Kaler said.
Kaler said requiring an ACT or SAT score makes sense at a large research institution like the Twin Cities campus. However, the scores may be less important at a smaller campus like Crookston, Kaler said, noting it may help UMC find qualified college students who may not have taken the ACT or SAT.
For the system as a whole, Kaler said he is most proud of keeping the cost of tuition down during his tenure.
"The state of the system is good," Kaler said. "The financial structure is solid. We've made good administrative adjustments that let us be more efficient. I think the value of a University of Minnesota degree is terrific, but we could do even more with more resources."
After handing over the reins to incoming president Joan Gabel, Kaler will stay on with the university foundation for a year. After taking some time off, he plans to teach chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota.