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Public Mission, Urban Challenges: The 21st-Century University' topic of U of M land-grant 150 anniversary event

April 16, 2012

University of Minnesota President Eric W.  Kaler will host Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor in a discussion of the role of the 21st-century university in meeting urban challenges in a special Great Conversations presidential forum at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, in Coffman Union Theater on the university's Twin Cities campus.

“Public Mission, Urban Challenges: The 21st-Century University” is part of UMN Land Grant 150, a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862—legislation that laid the groundwork for the land-grant research university's ongoing mission of learning, discovery and engagement for the common good.

The Great Conversations discussion is one of two public forums Kaler will host on the subject of the university’s land grant mission and its obligations and commitment to the people of the state. The university also will sponsor many other events throughout the year to explore its land-grant legacy; examine the impact of the university's campuses, programs, and collaborations across the state and world; and define a land-grant vision for the 21st century.

Under Cantor’s leadership, Syracuse University has become a national model for comprehensive university public engagement, with innovative partnerships that are revitalizing the older industrial city of Syracuse while also enriching scholarship and educational programs. Cantor lectures and writes extensively on the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, as well as on higher education issues such as sustainability, liberal education and the creative campus, and racial justice and diversity.

The University of Minnesota significantly expanded its own commitment to urban engagement with the 2009 opening of its Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, a North Minneapolis-based hub for sustained university-community programs and partnerships focused on the achievement gap, health disparities, and community/economic development.

The May 2 event will be moderated by College of Continuing Education Dean Mary L. Nichols, with an introduction by University System Senior Vice President for Academic Administration Robert J. Jones. A public reception will follow.

The event is free and open to the public, although registration is required. The conversation will be streamed live at For complete details, visit

Twin Cities Campus: