About President Kaler

Since taking office in 2011, President Eric Kaler has focused on core priorities: academic excellence, access for qualified students, stewardship of tuition and public dollars, diversity and a welcoming and respectful campus climate, a world-class research enterprise that aligns with the needs of the state of Minnesota and its industries, and a deep commitment to public engagement and outreach, locally and globally.

His personal commitment to excellence was rewarded in April 2014 when he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. He was elected in two categories: for his work as a chemical engineer and as a higher education administrator.

In 2014 and 2015, Kaler and the University’s Twin Cities campus community engaged in a consultative and highly inclusive strategic planning process that calls for a rejection of complacency, a deep culture change, and curriculum and research approaches to the state’s, nation’s, and world’s “grand challenges.” That plan is now being implemented with, for example, interdisciplinary "grand challenges" courses added to the undergraduate curriculum.

During the 2012-13 academic year, and in his first biennial budget request to the Minnesota Legislature, Kaler forged a partnership with the State of Minnesota by achieving a historic tuition freeze for Minnesota resident undergraduates. For the 2015-16 academic year, the 1.5 percent tuition increase for Minnesota residents is the smallest in 15 years. This commitment to affordability for students and their families aligns with President Kaler's vigorous reduction in administrative costs and his ongoing leadership around Operational Excellence. 

Since Kaler became president, Minnesota resident undergraduates across all five campuses have seen the smallest five-year tuition percentage increase — an average annual increase of 1 percent — in more than a half-century, or since the Eisenhower Administration.

The University is on track on a six-year plan to reallocate $90 million in administrative costs to the U's mission-driven focuses of teaching, research and community engagement.

Among other leadership activities, Kaler is a member of the Guthrie Theater Board, the co-chair of Generation Next, Chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors. 

In 2013, in partnership with Minnesota's Legislature, Kaler achieved $35.8 million in research investments from the state. In an initiative called MnDRIVE—the Minnesota Discovery, Research and Innovation Economy program—research emphasis matches some of the University’s research and discovery strengths with the state’s most pressing needs and key industries. That has resulted in 210 separate research projects involving 629 researchers resulting, so far, in 41 invention disclosures, leveraging an additional $57 million in external research funding.

In 2010, Kaler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor for a leader of that discipline and profession, and based on distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. In 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano named him to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, on which he continues to serve. In 2013, he was named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Kaler received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University in 1982. He went on to become one of the nation’s foremost experts on “complex fluids,” which have applications in drug delivery, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing.

Before coming to the U, Kaler served from 2007 to 2011 as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. Previously, he was dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering. He also taught at the University of Washington. He received his undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1978.

Kaler and his wife, Karen, have two adult sons.