University of Minnesota Alumni Association


From the President

A Firsthand Look at Systemwide Excellence

WHEN I BECAME interim president of the University of Minnesota in June, I knew I would be enlightened, challenged, and hopefully delighted—in no particular order or proportion. I’m happy to say that the summer and fall semester have truly been delightful and rewarding, primarily due to the incredible variety of people, places, and events I’ve been exposed to. In sum, they’ve amplified for me what an amazing treasure we have in the University.

I’ve seen how the exhaustive preparation by staff and volunteers leads to anticipation and excitement for first-year students at residence hall move-in days and at New Student Convocation. I’ve had the chance to meet student- athletes and student leaders, Regents Professors and University Senate members. I’ve visited University treasures ranging from the Natural Resources Research Institute and Cloquet Forestry Center to our Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) and the Arboretum. I took part in a safety walk in Dinkytown, and look forward to being a guest instructor for my teaching colleague Professor Mark Bergen in the Carlson School of Management.

In late October. I spoke at the inauguration of Chancellor Janet Schrunk Ericksen at the University of Minnesota Morris and have been closely involved with the search for the next chancellor of the Duluth campus. While most readers’ affinity aligns with the Twin Cities or Rochester campuses, our “systemness” makes the U of M special. We have five strong campuses serving the four corners of the state, with a breadth of offerings to fit the needs of any student. Having visited them all (some more than once) this summer and fall, I can attest to the unique attributes of each campus.

Challenges more often than not become opportunities, and we have the opportunity here to continually grow and improve our teaching, research, and outreach mission for the betterment of our students and the community at large.

Also, in October we were able to highlight the value the University places on a diversity of perspectives. Both the Humphrey School’s Carlson Lecture, which featured former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, and the Law School’s Stein Lecture, with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, drew large crowds to Northrop Auditorium and significant media attention.

This exchange of ideas is a hallmark of higher education. I think it is a credit to our University that the audiences at both events had the opportunity to listen to and learn from these prominent speakers.

I wake up each day excited at the chance to help lead this great university. Challenges more often than not become opportunities, and we have the opportunity here to continually grow and improve our teaching, research, and outreach mission for the betterment of our students and the community at large.

On a related note, I’m happy that the focus of this issue is the science of aging and the U of M’s significant work in this field. The theme couldn’t be more timely, since the population of adults age 65 and over is on pace to double by 2030. Dr. Laura Niedernhofer and her team’s work with senescent (aging) cells, in addition to being featured here, is highlighted in our new Driven to Discover campaign “Dear Minnesota” ( Our collective research in this field is yet another reason to take great pride in the University of Minnesota.

Jeff Ettinger
Interim President

If you liked this story, Minnesota Alumni magazine publishes four times a year highlighting U of M alumni and University activities. Early access to stories and a print subscription are benefits of being an Alumni Association member. Join here to receive a printed copy at home.

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