U.S. Rep. John Kline met with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler on Monday to discuss measures the school is taking to minimize costs for students.
The visit was Kline’s first since being named the chairman of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, and he said the visit allowed him to become more familiar with the state’s largest university.
“It was a chance for me to get to know the University of Minnesota better,” said Kline, whose 2nd Congressional District covers the southern metro and parts of southeastern Minnesota.
Along with costs for students, the discussion also focused on the University’s four-year graduation rates.
The University’s four-year graduation rates have increased significantly over the past decade. Fifty-four percent of students who started in 2007 graduated in four years — twice the amount than a decade earlier, according to the University’s 2012 accountability report.
Kaler, in a statement, said he was happy to have the congressman on campus.
“We were very pleased to have Congressman John Kline visit the U of M, Twin Cities’ campus today,” Kaler said. “It gave us a great opportunity to begin dialogue on the most important issues facing higher education institutions.”
Kline said he was interested in seeing what progress the University is making in curbing the costs of education for students, and he came away pleased with what he heard.
“I believe that President Kaler and the staff here have a good understanding that they’ve got to take steps to contain costs,” he said.
Kline pointed to the University’s consolidation of offices and cutting excess staff as steps the school has already taken.
With increases in federal funding for higher education not likely on the way, Kline said he wanted to see the University making smart decisions.
“I feel like they recognized the environment; they understand that there isn’t more federal money coming,” he said.
After the meeting, Kline toured the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center at the Mayo Memorial Building. He said the University’s research programs are exciting and essential aspects of the University.
“I was very impressed with the very high caliber of research,” he said.
Along with Kaler, Kline met with Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson, Dean of Undergraduate Education and Vice Provost Bob McMaster and Kris Wright, director of student finance.