Eric Kaler

Recent Articles

North Mpls targeted for new early learning center

Partnerships formed to better prepare more kids for kindergarten 

By Charles Hallman 
Staff Writer 
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and University of Minnesota officials point out that additional slots for early childhood learning, especially on Minneapolis’ North Side, are needed more than ever because the number of children and families are increasing. U of M Educational Psychology Professor Scott McConnell told the MSR last week that last year, after the state legislature allocated funds for early children education and “promised to focus on high-poverty communities,” he and another faculty member looked into North Minneapolis. “Literally on the back of an envelope, we pulled together Census information and information from the State licensing board on early childhood and calculated roughly how many kids live in [zip codes] 55411 and 55412 and how many spaces there are,” he recalled. “We found that they are about 1,000 [preschool] spots short. There’s a gap between what we think is the number of children that might be eligible for high-quality early childhood education and those who might [attend these programs].”
Minneapolis School Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson added that her district and the university long have worked together on improving public education. Continue Reading →

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Student group presents ‘diversity demands’ to U of M officials

‘Whose Diversity?’ resists cooptation, wants more than ‘sprinkling a few faces of color in catalogues’
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

The issue of diversity is ever-present at the University of Minnesota. However, this may be the only thing both top administrators and a diverse group of students can easily agree upon. “We all want to make the university a better place, and we are glad that they are raising these issues,” declares U of M Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young when asked about an independent student group calling itself “Whose Diversity?”

The “Whose Diversity?” collective is a diverse group of both undergraduate and graduate students “from underrepresented and marginalized communities.” They presented a list of “diversity demands” to top school officials in late April, including Brown Young, President Eric Kaler, and Vice President for Equity and Diversity Katrice Albert that included “substantive engagement,” a high priority on recruiting, retaining and graduating students of color, and a “comprehensive educational experience for all students,” according to the document. “We decided as a collective that we didn’t want to [be] backed by the university and be formally recognized as a student group or student organization,” said Rahsaan Mahadeo. “We’ve seen examples of how student groups have become co-opted by the university and made to adhere to their demands, and we didn’t want to do that.”

Both Albert and Brown Young told the MSR in separate interviews that efforts to meet with “Whose Diversity?” leaders have been unsuccessful. Continue Reading →

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Black male students feel targeted by U of M crime alert

School officials grapple with creating a “safe for all” campus
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Everyone at the University of Minnesota — students, faculty, staff and administrators — are concerned about campus safety after a recent “crime wave” of robberies and assaults raised campus-wide alarm. However, many Black students and other students of color are now equally concerned about how they are being seen around campus. After an attempted robbery at a campus dorm in November, campus police misidentified an innocent Black student as a suspect. A letter was sent in December to University President Eric Kaler and University Services Vice-President Pamela Wheelock, whose office supervises campus law enforcement, from several Black organizations including the Black Student Union, the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and the Black Men’s Forum, expressing their concerns about the use of racial descriptions in crime alerts. “We sent this letter,” explained Black Student Union President Amber Jones, “in response to the stories, the hurt and the pain our community was crying about. Continue Reading →

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The MSR 2013 year in review

The local Black press continues to publish stories “from our own lens”
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

This year, 2013, was historic as well as a year-long full of highs and lows: Two MSR reporters were among the national and international press that covered America’s first Black president’s second inauguration in January. Said Atlanta Daily World reporter Kenya King, a member of the Black press who was covering the Obama inauguration for the second time, “I’m here to capture…the moment of this historic occasion [and] to make sure that the message that should get across, does get across.”

A ‘new Black agenda’ was discussed by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others during the organization’s Lobby Day at the State Capitol on March 19. The MSR asked several Blacks in attendance that day if they felt new voices and perhaps a new message is needed from Black Minnesotans. “I think it is time for new voices to be heard,” believed Greater Friendship Missionary

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Billy Russell in our March 28 front-page story. The MSR also continued its coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the introduction of MNsure, the state’s new health-insurance exchange program and how the new healthcare law will benefit Blacks. Continue Reading →

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U of M diversity v.p. moves on to greener Tennessee pastures

 

 
Rickey Hall acknowledges school’s need for improved ‘external relations’
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff writer

 

Rickey Hall’s favorite advice to his coworkers is, “Diversity is everybody’s everyday work. I say that often to people,” says Hall, who will leave his current position later this month as the University of Minnesota’s assistant vice president for diversity and equity, which he’s held since 2007, to assume his new duties as vice chancellor for diversity at the University of Tennessee. Hall came to the Twin Cities campus in 1998, when he started and directed the university’s School of Public Health multicultural office. Then he moved to the diversity and equity office. He held similar positions at U of M — Morris and Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Continue Reading →

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Will the next Gophers athletic director be Black?

Search process makes this possibility not likely
 

Will Blacks be included in the “thorough and inclusive process” University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler announced last week on his search for the school’s next athletic director. Let me count the reasons they probably won’t be. One, the school is paying an Atlanta search firm $100,000. According to the Sports Business Journal, Division I schools annually conduct up to 45 searches for an AD, football or basketball coach — spending anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 using outside agencies. (A University spokesman told me last week that the money will be coming from two sources: the athletic department and Kaler’s presidential account.)

The business magazine also says these search executives are “in an extraordinarily powerful position,” which lends to reason number two — Minnesota hired Parker Executive Search, whose senior leadership is all White, and all but one of its seven “principals/associates” also are White. Continue Reading →

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