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U of Minn. names presidential finalist: Eric Kaler

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Eric W. Kaler
Eric W. Kaler was named the finalist by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for the president position at the university on Nov. 12, 2010.
Photo from Stony Brook University

The long search for a new president of the University of Minnesota got closer to the finish line Friday morning when the school's Board of Regents chose one finalist, Eric Kaler. 

      The Board of Regents picked Kaler, currently provost at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, from among a group of four semifinalists at a morning meeting in Minneapolis.

Kaler will visit the University of Minnesota campus next week for a series of meetings with various constituencies in the university community, and also to interview with the Board of Regents, the university said.

Kaler earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the U of M. He said he looks forward to discussing the future of the university with faculty and students. 

"I haven't had enough of a chance yet to really have good conversations with students and faculty and staff about their aspirations for the institution, and about how we can work together and move it forward," Kahler said. 

All four semifinalists came from outside the university.  Two of the finalists dropped out of contention, because they didn't want to be part of the publicly identified candidate pool. 

Kaler would replace Robert Bruininks as president. Bruininks announced several months ago his intention to step down from the post when his current contract expires in June, 2011. He plans to return to teaching. 

Robert Bruininks
University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks will step down from his position in June 2011, to return to teaching.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel

The board intends to appoint the next president by the end of this year.

Clyde Allen, who chairs the Board of Regents, said he's confident the board made the right decision in naming only one final candidate. 

"When this candidate stands before the groups and interviews, and when we finish discussing how well the candidate did, I think we'll have almost everyone convinced that this is the candidate that can lead this university into the future," said Allen. 

Kaler was appointed as the ninth provost of Stony Brook University in October 2007. He received his undergraduate degree from California Institute of Technology in 1978, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1982. 

Prior to his appointment at Stony Brook, Kaler served on the faculty of the University of Delaware's College of Engineering from 1989-2007 where he rose to the rank of dean in 2000, and served as Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering from 1998 to 2007. 

Previous to that, Kaler taught chemical engineering at the University of Washington from 1982 to 1989.

Bruininks has been president of the U of M since November 2002. He has served the university for more than 40 years, formerly as a professor, dean, and executive vice president and provost.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report)