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In Aug Speech

In Aug Speech

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Published by jenna_ross1095

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Published by: jenna_ross1095 on Sep 22, 2011
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 As prepared for delivery by President Eric W. Kaler, Thursday, September 22, 2011:I first came to the University of Minnesota in September of 1978.I was about to be 22 years old. And I was about to be a graduate student in the best chemical engineering program in the world.I had a fellowship to support me, which was the only way this son of a working class family couldgo to graduate school.That was my first encounter with the excellence of this University, and with the mission andpublic support that made it accessible to me.That was the University of Minnesota then, and, in many ways, what it still is today.But those twin pillars of excellence and access at the University, those two foundational stonesfor the prosperity of Minnesota, have never been more at risk.
That’s why I am devoting this next chapter of my life to the mission of this University, and to the
future of its students.
But I’m just one person. I can’t achieve excellence alone, not in these unusual times, not amid
increasingly scarce resources, not across this vast organization.LIFT LIFT LIFT LIFT
That’s why I’m asking you –
students, faculty, staff, elected officials, business leaders, alumni,and citizens of Minnesota
. . . I’m asking you today to join me to m
ove this University forward,
to tell our great stories. I’m asking you to help me to instill pride in this great University among
every citizen of our state.
Together, we can fulfill this University’s extraordinary promise.
 My friends, we have work to do.
Governor Dayton, thank you for your part in today’s ceremony, and for your unwavering
support. Thank you very much.Chair Cohen, Vice Chair Larson, and Regents Allen, Beeson, Brod, Frobenius, Hung, Johnson,McMillan, Ramirez, and Sviggum . . . Thank you for your wisdom, your governance of this greatUniversity, and your confidence in me as its President.Mayors Coleman and Rybak, other honored elected officials, faculty, students, and staff here,and watching in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester, welcome. Alumni here and watchingaround the world . . .Friends in our Extension offices and Research and Outreach Centers across the state, all of ourhonored delegates from Minnesota, from across the nation and around the world . . . Members
of the Inaugural Committee and its chair, my good friend, Frank Bates . . . Regents ProfessorKathryn SICK-INK, our mace bearer . . . All our distinguished guests and friends, welcome, and thank you for joining us.I am particularly touched that so many of my Delaware and Stony Brook friends are here today,including the president of Stony Brook University, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr.Sam, thank you for coming. As I said, September 1978 was important to me, but it pales in comparison to the morning of June 17, 1979. That was the day I first laid eyes on the woman who would become my wife,Karen Kaler. A man could not ask for a better friend, a better companion, or a better partner,than she is to me. She blessed me with two sons, Charlie and Sam, and everyday they give meconfidence in our future. To them and to our other family members, thank you for being here with me today. We have work to do.I am committed to:Re-invigorating how we teach and learn, ensuring an exceptional undergraduate experience, arigorous graduate environment, and a world-class research enterprise;I am committed to:Re-imagining how we operate and function;I am committed to:Championing the value of this University to the people of this state;I am committed to:Strengthening our business, community and philanthropic partnerships;I am committed to:Unleashing an entrepreneurial spirit among us, reaching globally even as we serve and engagecommunities locally;I am committed to:Leading a University that understands that diversity is critical to achieving excellence.Together, we can re-invent the land-grant vision of the nineteenth century to meet the globalneeds of the twenty-first century.Together, we can place the University of Minnesota among the group of the best public researchuniversities in the nation.
 I am sure you recognize these words:
 Complete with the gender bias of the early twentieth century, those are the words inscribedabove the grand columns of Northop Auditorium on the Twin Cities campus.Those 33 words are an enduring, succinct, description of our noble mission. They are wordsthat have stood the test of time and should continue to serve as a guidepost for all we do.I will come back to those words in a few minutes, but let me tell you first about Ifrah Esse. andshow you the impact this University can have on a student, her family and our state.Ifrah is from Minneapolis, by way of Somalia. She is the sort of student and alumna whogenerates enormous pride in this University.By every measure, she IS our pride and promise.Ifrah graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in sociology. That achievement came 12 years after sheemigrated with her parents and her eight surviving siblings from a Kenyan refugee camp. When Ifrah arrived in the United States, she was 11. She could neither read nor write Somali,
and didn’t know a word of English.
 That changed. While in high school, she visited our Twin Cities campus and fell in love with it. She set
a goal to become a University of Minnesota student. She remembers being inspired by her professors to think in new ways.The daughter of a truck driver and a school lunch worker, she worked fulltime while at the U.This helped her family, and paid for books. As a strong student, she received grants andscholarships to help with tuition.Today, Ifrah is a sourcing specialist for Target, working with vendors worldwide to deliver theirgoods to stores nationwide. On her own time, she mentors immigrants, who, just like her,possess immense promise.
Three of Ifrah’s older siblings have als
o graduated from the U, including a brother who recently graduated from our Medical School. A dozen years removed from a refugee camp, Ifrah says the University of Minnesota has becomean

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