About President Kaler
Since taking office in 2011, President Eric Kaler has focused on core priorities: academic excellence, affordability, diversity and a welcoming and respectful campus climate, a world-class research enterprise that aligns with the needs of the citizens and industries of Minnesota, 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 strategic planning process that called for, among other things, new curriculum options and focused research approaches to the state’s, nation’s, and world’s “grand challenges.” Today, a host of interdisciplinary “grand challenges” courses have been added to the undergraduate curriculum, and a series of “grand challenges” research grants have been awarded to faculty totaling more than $6 million, focusing on health, environmental, and food-related issues.
Kaler’s “operational excellence” initiative is on track to reallocate $90 million in University administrative costs to the U's mission-driven focuses of teaching, research and community engagement.
Among other leadership activities, Kaler is Past Chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors. He was co-founder of Generation Next, a coalition of Twin Cities-area civic, business and education leaders united to help close the achievement and opportunity gaps in Minneapolis and St. Paul area schools.
In 2013, in partnership with Minnesota’s Legislature, Kaler achieved about $36 million in research investments from the state in an initiative called MnDRIVE—the Minnesota Discovery, Research and Innovation Economy program. The research emphases match some of the University’s research strengths with the state’s most pressing needs and key industries. MnDRIVE has resulted in more than 200 separate research projects involving nearly 1,000 researchers while leveraging an additional $200 million in external research funding. The state's support for MnDRIVE continues with about $17.5 million annually.
In 2010, Kaler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 2012, he was named to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council. 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.