In his first meeting on the University of Minnesota campus since being announced as the sole finalist in the selection of the next university president, Eric Kaler fielded questions Thursday before an audience of mostly faculty, staff and administrators, according to a story by The Minnesota Daily.
In a discussion ranging from research to athletics to the liberal arts, Kaler, wearing a maroon and gold tie, started the forum with a touch of humor.
"Let me start by telling you something I am not ... I flat out cannot coach football. I'm here for the other job," he said.
Because of his decorated chemical engineering degree from the U, many questions centered on how Kaler would support the liberal arts.
"[Liberal arts] are an essential element of a university and it's required for the public good for us to have that as a central part of our mission," he said before the audience of 200, with another 400 watching online.
Improvements to student advising and more student-friendly class scheduling were among Kaler's recommendations to enrich the undergraduate experience.
He also said the University needs to improve its graduation rates and make education more affordable through financial aid and scholarships.
Students at the forum appeared receptive to Kaler's responses.
"I think he would be a good step forward for the University," Aara Johnson, a second-year graduate student, said.
Paul Strain, a student representative to the Board of Regents, said Kaler did a good job answering questions.
"I think it is really easy to speak jargon when addressing an audience like this," Strain said. "He was very straightforward and he actually answered the tough questions, which is something the University has struggled with in the past."