University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Land Grant Act


Land Grant 150 Great Conversation

Public Mission, Urban Challenges: The 21st Century University, a public conversation between University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler and Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Canto, took place Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at Coffman Union Theater. 

Public Mission, Urban Challenges: The 21st-Century University

Event Details

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  • Wednesday, May 2, 2012
  • 4 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Coffman Theatre, Coffman Memorial Union
  • 1-hour conversation, followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer period

    This year, the University of Minnesota is marking the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862, legislation that laid the groundwork for the public research university's ongoing mission of learning, discovery, and engagement for the common good. In 1862, universities embraced a public mission focused on the needs of a largely industrial and rural state and society. Today, universities step up to the challenges of a markedly more urban, global, and interdisciplinary age.

    Great Conversations 2012

    University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler and Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor are the conversants for this “Land Grant 150 Great Conversation” examining the role of the 21st-century university in addressing the most urgent contemporary urban issues.

    Welcome by Mary Nichols, dean of the U of MN College of Continuing Education. Introduction by Robert J. Jones, senior vice president for academic administration, U of M system.

    Read more about the University's land-grant urban mission »

    About the speakers

    As the 11th chancellor and president of Syracuse University, Nancy Cantor is helping to forge a new understanding of the role of the university, not as a traditional “ivory tower,” but as a public good, an anchor institution that collaborates with partners from all sectors of the economy to more effectively serve society's needs. She lectures and writes extensively on the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, and on other crucial issues in higher education such as sustainability, liberal education and the creative campus, the status of women in the academy, and racial justice and diversity.

    Prior to her appointment at Syracuse, Chancellor Cantor served as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, prior to which she had been dean of its Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and vice provost for academic affairs.

    Chancellor Cantor is the past chair of the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education and former chair of the board of the American Council on Education. She serves on the board of the American Institutes for Research and the advisory board of Future of Minority Studies, the Board of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, the Board of Governors for the New York Academy of Sciences, the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation Board of Directors, and is an honorary trustee of the American Psychological Foundation. Chancellor Cantor is also national co-chair of Imagining America’s Tenure Team Initiative and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy.

    Eric W. Kaler became the 16th president of the University of Minnesota on July 1, 2011. Dr. Kaler is only the second alumnus to rise to the University’s presidency. He received his Ph.D. from the University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in 1982. He went on to become one of the nation’s foremost experts on “complex fluids,” which are used in many applications, including drug delivery, the biotech industry, food processing, and the manufacturing of coatings and paints.

    Before coming to the University of Minnesota, President Kaler served from 2007 to 2011 as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. He also was Stony Brook’s vice president for Brookhaven National Laboratory affairs.

    Previous to his time at Stony Brook, President Kaler was a member of the faculty at the University of Delaware from 1989 to 2007. He served there as chair of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1996 to 2000 and then as dean of the College of Engineering from 2000 to 2007. He was an assistant professor and an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Washington from 1982 to 1989. President Kaler has received many awards and recognitions for his research, including election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2010.