The University's No. 1 ambassador

While the role of the university president’s spouse is changing nationwide, Karen Kaler remains a committed advocate for the University of Minnesota.
Karen Kaler briefly visits with a patient in a play room at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital on West Bank during a tour of the building on April 25. Karen Kaler volunteers to rock premature infants at the Children's Hospital.
May 06, 2014

Karen Kaler is a naturalized Gopher.

A charming Tennessee accent combined with warm Southern hospitality make it difficult for Kaler, wife to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, to pass as a native, but it’s clear that her loyalties lie with the maroon and gold.

Karen Kaler, 57, wields her role at the helm of the University’s leadership as one of the institution’s most hardworking unpaid advocates — a constant embodiment of Gopher pride.

During the summer, Kaler is a comedian and teacher, offering humorous advice on the transition to college during Parent Orientation. Once fall rolls around, she doesn’t miss a single home football game and often sports maroon-and-gold striped socks. Her cellphone rings with the “Minnesota Rouser.”

Amid her many commitments, she finds time to fundraise for the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital and attend Alumni Association events.

Kaler plays the typically active role of the university president’s spouse — at least, the role that was typical 30 years ago. But as two-career couples become more common and as more men find themselves in Karen Kaler’s position, that role is changing at universities nationwide.

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