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U of M Board of Regents approves contract extension for President Eric Kaler

Regents also receive reports on alumni and Gopher Athletics

July 9, 2014

University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler today signed a contract extension to continue his presidency through June 30, 2020. The University’s Board of Regents approved the extension after a discussion and unanimous vote today.

“President Kaler’s first three years at the University have been outstanding and the Board believes in his vision to move this great institution and the state forward,” said Board Chair Richard Beeson, who proposed the extension to the Board following the Board’s positive performance review of Kaler in June. “President Kaler and the Board agree our work together is not done in areas such as student debt, reducing administrative costs and implementing a new University strategic plan. This contract extension will keep him focused on the work ahead, while acknowledging a competitive marketplace and ensuring the University’s leadership remains stable.”

Specifically, the contract:

  • extends the current term by five years: from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2020;
  • provides a 2014-15 salary increase of 2.5 percent (from $610,000 to $625,250), consistent with the University’s faculty and staff merit-based pay plan;
  • continues current supplemental retirement payments for the life of the contract ($50,000 annually); 
  • adds new annual supplemental retirement contributions starting at $50,000 and increasing annually through FY 2020; and
  • enhances life and disability insurance benefits.

Since taking office in 2011, Kaler’s annual performance evaluations have showed consistent and significant progress toward University goals. For example, he forged a renewed partnership with the Legislature and Governor that allowed the University to freeze resident undergraduate tuition for two years, and make meaningful investments in research through the Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) initiative. He has committed to reduce administrative costs and the U is nearly $36 million toward his pledge to save $90 million. He was instrumental in forging a new integrated structure to manage health care on the Twin Cities campus with Fairview Health System and University of Minnesota Physicians.

His philanthropy efforts have resulted in significant fundraising success, including current projections for a near-record year for the University of Minnesota Foundation. Additionally, he initiated a faculty-driven strategic planning process that will prescribe a bold vision for the University to leverage the institution’s distinct advantages to better serve students and fulfill its mission.

“Simply put, President Kaler is the right person, in the right job, at the right time,” Beeson said.

Success in athletic competition and in the classroom
2013-14 saw continued improvement in academic performance for Gopher Athletics’ 25 programs, according to Gopher Athletic Director Norwood Teague’s annual report to the Board. Overall, the University was the highest ranking public institution with regards to its Academic Progress Report (APR). Eighteen Gopher programs posted perfect APR scores for the year – the highest number of single year perfect scores the University has ever earned. Nine teams had perfect multi-year scores, also the highest number the University has ever achieved. Gopher student-athletes had a cumulative GPA of 3.22 and 12 teams received NCAA Public Recognition Awards.

In competition, the Gophers:

  • won eight Big Ten Conference championships;
  • had NCAA runner-up finishes in wrestling and men’s and women’s ice hockey;
  • men’s basketball team won the National Invitational Tournament (NIT); and
  • the football team went to a second straight bowl game after its first four-game Big Ten win streak in more than 40 years.

Combined, Minnesota finished 21st nationally and fourth in the Big Ten in the Learfield Director’s Cup standings, the measure of the success of an entire athletics program.

“Academically and athletically, we had a fantastic year,” said Teague. “That success is due to the combined efforts and hard work of our student-athletes, coaches, academic counselors, training staff and administrators. I thank each and every one of them for their dedication to Gopher Athletics and the state of Minnesota.”

In his update to the Board, Teague also discussed the department’s budget and how it leverages current facilities for athletic and training needs, as well as providing access to the community.

The department is replacing the Williams Arena roof this summer and is in the pre-design phase for improvements to Mariucci Arena and a men’s and women’s golf training facility. Gopher Athletics has completed a fundraising campaign feasibility study and will begin the public phase of the $190 million fundraising campaign, detailed in July 2013, soon. This campaign and the academic and training facilities it supports will deliver on a long-term vision for the student-athlete experience that provides the support and experience Gopher student-athletes need and that is required to remain competitive.

Building alumni advocates
Alumni are vital to the University’s continued success, according to an annual Board update by University of Minnesota Alumni Association (UMAA) President and CEO Lisa Lewis. Lewis showcased numerous ways in which alumni are advancing their alma mater.

Among the more than 445,000 living U of M alumni worldwide:

  • 62,000 donated to the U or were members of UMAA;
  • Lars Peter Hansen (’78, Ph.D., Economics) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics;
  • all five 2014 inductees to the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame are U alumni; and
  • more than 1,400 alumni volunteered their time and talent this year to serve as mentors to current students.

Sixty-two percent of U alums live in Minnesota and are key contributors to the state’s economy in a wide variety of fields, including business, science and engineering, the arts and entertainment and health care. In fact, the U trains nearly 70 percent of Minnesota’s health care workforce and all pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary medicine graduates come from the U. According to the 2011 economic impact report, U alumni have started 10,000-plus companies in Minnesota, employing 500,000 people and generating revenue of $100 billion.

Lewis also outlined key principles that will guide UMAA’s future. Efforts include more and varied opportunities for engagement for the 70 alumni chapters across the United States and collaborating across the U to more effectively develop alumni advocates. UMAA will use the upcoming 100th  anniversary of Homecoming on the Twin Cities campus as a key engagement event.

The Board of Regents also:

  • discussed the future of college athletics. Over the past several years, there has been considerable discussion about the future of the amateur model and college athletics, especially at the Division I level. At the Board’s request, Athletics Director Teague and University General Counsel William Donohue led a discussion of this evolving national landscape, including proposed governance and autonomy changes within the NCAA, student-athlete unionization efforts and current legal challenges.
  • acted on a resolution related to the University’s new approach to engagement efforts for the vitality and safety of the neighborhoods surrounding the Minneapolis campus to ensure a vibrant, welcoming, safe and attractive environment for all students, faculty and staff, as well as visitors to campus. President Kaler called for this initiative in his State of the University address and assessing neighborhood development impacts on campus was part of the Board’s 2013-14 work plan.
  • approved the purchase of two vacant lots, totaling nearly four acres, north of the University’s Intercampus Transitway and Metro Transit Green Line, and adjacent to the U’s East Gateway District (which includes TCF Bank Stadium, as well as the Biomedical Discovery District). The properties, which cost $7.9 million, will be used for future development of the Minneapolis campus, with possible surface parking occurring in the interim.
  • formally recognized Brian Buhr as the new dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

See the President’s report to the Board here.

Following today’s meeting, the Board will hold its annual planning retreat through Friday, July 11. The Board’s next meetings are Thursday and Friday, September 11-12. For more information, visit the Regents website.

Twin Cities Campus: