President Kaler delivers State of the University address


Grounded in the University of Minnesota’s enduring impact in research, education and outreach, President Eric Kaler emphasized the University’s power to be a force for good, for equality and for hope and progress in our communities, our state and our nation during his State of the University address today.

Speaking to more than 200 students, faculty and staff in the University’s Coffman Memorial Union Theater — and many more at U of M campuses across the state — Kaler stressed that while the University is indisputably one of the nation's top public research universities, the campus community is not immune from issues and tensions of our nation. President Kaler addressed freedom of speech on campus, the University’s role in supporting those affected by immigration policy changes, the prevention of sexual misconduct, the University’s System-wide Strategic Plan and more.

Kaler’s address was followed by a moderated question-and-answer session.

The following are excerpts from the full speech, which is available here.

Our role in driving social mobility

“We remain the place where civilization can find its best self. Where people of all ages can come to learn and grow, and where all ideas can take root and be made stronger by the challenge of other ideas. Universities create great promise for many, but there remain huge obstacles and headwinds against our success…We here at the University have made great strides on advancing the successes of Pell-eligible and low-income students...We’ve got to improve the college awareness and preparation of those students with the goal of making them our students one day. It is important to remember amid all the tension, all the mistrust, all the attacks on higher education: We help to drive social mobility in our state and our nation.”

Freedom of speech

“We live in a time of deep division in our nation, our state and on our campuses. But we at the University live and work in an institution where opposing points of views, skepticism and disagreements are part of the educational experience. We have to grapple with and find ways to manage the differences of opinion. We must dedicate ourselves to promoting free speech while still fostering a campus climate that supports equity, diversity and inclusion. This, of course, includes a diversity of thought and the ability to learn how to disagree with each other with civility… Our bedrock assumption is that ideas are tested in the crucible of free exchange.”

DACA and our support of those affected

“Ever since the threat of the end of the DACA program was raised last September, I have stood with other higher education and business leaders in urging our elected officials to resolve the issue and to protect our students and faculty… the University of Minnesota will do all it can to protect our Dreamers.”

Statewide strategic plan

“The System-wide Strategic Plan is a priority of the Board of Regents and our senior leadership team… After this process is completed, we want everyone to be able to understand our budget by examining our System-wide Strategic Plan, a plan that will clearly identify where we should invest and where we should stand down. We’re looking closely at all five of our campuses and identifying common areas of strength while highlighting the unique nature of each.”

President’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct

“If for nothing else, I hope to be remembered for paving the groundwork for a deep and lasting culture change around sexual misconduct across our campuses. As we all know, from the studios of Hollywood to the corridors of the nation’s Capitol, we have a sexual misconduct crisis in our nation.

“We can, we must and we will do better because each incident of sexual assault, harassment, relationship violence and stalking is one too many. We fail when there are victims of sexual misconduct and when we don’t work as hard as possible to support them and provide continuous and required training to all of our students, faculty and staff.

“Stopping sexual misconduct on our campuses begins with every one of us, and our challenge is to become a community where sexual assault and harassment aren’t tolerated and where those who would attempt it find the community united to stop it.”

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