In a first of its kind visit for a University of Minnesota president, Joan Gabel met with the Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday.
While specific proposals are not outlined on his campaign website, in March, the White House detailed policy goals to better align education with the workforce needs of a modern economy, to reform student loans and to continue reducing the regulative reach of the government.
Gabel kicked off the research roundtable with a basic question: “What kind of research powerhouse do we want to be?”
“In the 21st century, a music school should be more inclusive,” said Paul Shaw, a Jamaican classical pianist and professor in the School of Music. “It shouldn’t just be limited to the conservatory model … where you study theory and classical traditions.”
Discussions on campus climate and inclusion opened with Gabel outlining what she considers a concerning disparity among white and African American students about feeling a sense of belonging at the University.
“I can hear and feel the national winds blowing, and I recognize the challenges on our doorstep, but we're undeterred and rather are filled with hope and optimism, for it is a new day at the University,” said new Joan Gabel at her first regents meeting as president.
Debt and the cost of college are the focus of several Democratic presidential candidates' campaigns ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary. Policy statements range from offering student loan refinancing at lower interest rates to canceling all student debt. Some candidates have proposed no-cost community college, while others seek to make all public colleges tuition free.
As the University of Minnesota’s new president, Joan Gabel emphasizes collaboration and shared governance as pillars in her leadership style.
Having left Morrill Hall for the last time as president last week, Kaler leaves a University that many say is far better than what he inherited. During his tenure, graduation rates increased, the University’s national standing improved and he tried to limit tuition increases while facing underwhelming state support.
“My wife Karen and I are grateful for our eight years in this role, and we will always view it as the honor of a lifetime to have served you,” said University President Eric Kaler in a statement to the University during his last day in office. “I’ll leave the leadership of the University in the talented hands of Joan Gabel. With her, we are well positioned for a strong future.”