Eric Kaler is stepping down as President of the University of Minnesota after eight years on the job. Almanac recently did an exit interview with Kaler. The conversation covered a lot of ground: efforts to limit tuition increases and rising administrative costs, sexual harassment issues in the athletic department, a failed effort to change the names of several campus buildings honoring allegedly racist and anti-Semitic campus administrators.

After touching on these topics, Kaler was asked by Almanac host Cathy Wurzer about advice he had reportedly given incoming U of M President Joan Gabel: “Ask a lot of questions and question the answers you get,” he replied. As an example, Kaler cited what he called one of his biggest regrets in the President’s chair when he was “slow to answer issues around participation of human subjects in our research enterprise, particularly in psychiatry.” Kaler was referring to a national scandal in 2015 that involved clinical trials conducted by the U of M Psychiatry Department and that resulted in the 2004 death of trial subject Dan Markingson.

President Kaler said in the interview that, while he was stepping down as university president, he is not leaving academia. After taking a sabbatical, Kaler said that he is looking forward to returning to the classroom by teaching the U of M’s Introduction to Chemical Engineering course.


Ever wondered about the people behind the building names on the U of M campus? We’ve got you covered with a few backstories on some of the movers and shakers – as well as the controversial figures – in “Meet the People Behind the Places at the U of M.”

The U of M and the state government are tightly connected in many ways. Almanac’s David Gillette created this illustrated essay to explain how lawmakers select the U’s Board of regents. Hint: It’s a bit like a game of chess.