Eric Kaler set to take office Friday as 16th U president


Eric Kaler will officially become the 16th president of the University of Minnesota when he takes office Friday.

He’ll replace President Bob Bruininks, who will conclude his nine-year tenure to return to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs faculty.

Kaler’s first day on the job coincides with the first day of the school’s grim new fiscal year of higher tuition and crunched faculty benefits. He’ll make $610,000 annually in his four-year contract.

Kaler, a University alumnus, was finalized as the school’s next president by the Board of Regents last November, a selection that caused some controversy as he was the only named finalist.

Since his appointment, Kaler has made a few unpublicized visits to campus to meet with administration, coming from his home in New York, where he served as provost for Stony Brook University, also a public school.

In March, Kaler appointed Amy Phenix, then a director of communications at Macalester College in St. Paul, as his chief of staff.

Phenix said the long-distance work with Kaler has been a challenge, but she said the process has also been fun, especially hearing of Kaler’s excitement.

“Although we are at a crossroads … I am incredibly optimistic about our future,” Kaler wrote in his first official letter to faculty, sent Monday.

Phenix said Kaler will spend this week on general preparation and meetings. He is also scheduled for a “casual” lunch with a small cross-section of students.