Board of Regents discusses proposed University operating budget


The University of Minnesota Board of Regents discussed President Eric Kaler’s proposed University operating budget Thursday and Friday. Regents considered input from the President, University administrators and public as they prepare to take action at a special meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19.

In the Finance and Operations Committee Thursday, the President shared details of his recommended $4.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1. It calls for investments in base funding for several key areas of the University – including greater Minnesota campuses and Extension, all of which provide critical access and expertise across the state – as well as investments in the University’s most valuable resource for maintaining excellence in its mission, its faculty and staff. The Board was also asked to consider tuition increases for resident undergraduate students below the requested three-percent limit recently requested by the Minnesota legislature.

On Friday, the Board welcomed public feedback as part of a public forum on the operating budget. Those who participated in the session offered their perspectives on the budget. The Board continues to collect written feedback on its website ( All input provided during the comment period will be included in the public docket for the Board’s June 19 meeting.

Regents celebrate tenure of President and Karen Kaler

Early in its Friday meeting, the Board celebrated the tenure of outgoing University President Eric W. Kaler and Karen Kaler. Chair David McMillan presented certificates of recognition for the Kalers’ commitment to the University during their eight years in office.

“From his time as a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering and his service as student representative to the Board of Regents, to his eight years as our chief executive, President Kaler has been an exemplary University citizen,” McMillan said. “Eric has demonstrated deep loyalty and commitment to the University of Minnesota and for that, I hope all Minnesotans will join me in thanking him.”

Chair McMillan highlighted Kaler’s considerable imprint on the University since he took office in 2011, noting:

  • student affordability, keeping Minnesota resident tuition increases at rates less than inflation;
  • excellence in the University’s research enterprise, including the MnDRIVE research partnership with the state and the MN-IP program to foster commercialization of intellectual property developed by the University;
  • the enhanced M Health Fairview clinical partnership;
  • with the University of Minnesota Foundation, the launch and continued progress of the $4 billion Driven campaign to support students, research and outreach; and
  • strategic initiatives, including reducing administrative costs and investing more than $90 million in mission-focused efforts, and systemwide work to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.

With reference to Karen Kaler, McMillan said she is “a dynamic and passionate collaborator who has energetically supported student initiatives, including service on the Undergraduate Awards Selection committee. She also provided significant leadership and support on development and fundraising committees, and has been a dedicated volunteer with our youngest patients at the University’s Masonic Children’s Hospital. Karen has distinguished herself as a leader and beloved member of our community, and we appreciate her selfless commitment to the University and state.”

Kaler’s final day as the University’s 16th president will be June 30. He will serve as president emeritus for the next year, helping conclude the University’s Driven fundraising campaign, before transitioning to the University’s chemical engineering faculty.

The Board also:

  • Elected new Board leadership for the next two years. Regent Ken Powell will serve as the Chair, with Regent Steve Sviggum serving as Vice Chair. Executive Director Brian Steeves will continue as Secretary, and University Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Brian Burnett will remain the Board’s Treasurer.
  • Approved the President’s Recommended Annual Capital Improvement Budget totaling approximately $130 million.
  • Approved a proposal to allow alcohol sales in general seating areas of 3M Arena at Mariucci and Williams Arena on the Twin Cities campus.
  • Approved a real estate transaction for a land swap on W St. Marie St. and Gold St. in Duluth.
  • Heard the report of the Faculty Consultative Committee from chair Professor Amy Pittenger and received reports of the Academic Professionals and Administrators Consultative Committee and the Civil Service Consultative Committee

Following its June 19 special meeting, the Board of Regents will meet next on July 11. Visit for more information.

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