In a first of its kind visit for a University of Minnesota president, Joan Gabel met with the Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday.
The stop at City Hall is another milestone for Gabel, who earlier this month became the first female president in the University’s 168-year history. Gabel has described the University's proximity and connection to the Twin Cities as a unique asset that is not currently maximized.
“If they told me that I’m the first University president to visit like this before, then my predecessors really missed out because this is a wonderful opportunity for us to build a relationship,” Gabel said at the meeting.
Several council members thanked Gabel for making the trek across the river, expressing a desire to have a close relationship with the University, what Council President Lisa Bender referred to as the city’s “bossy big sister.”
“The thing about sisters is that they are family, right?” Bender said. “We’re in this together and I think that is the spirit that we want to feel with the University is this true partnership and true co-ownership over the future of this amazing community.”
Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher, whose district includes Dinkytown and Marcy Holmes, said the University has “never fully realized the potential for partnership with the city.”
“I think one of the ways to make college more accessible to everybody is to really solve the affordability problem with housing for students,” Fletcher said. “The only way we’re going to get there is if we work together.”