Courtesy of University of Minnesota

It's unanimous; regents approve Gabel as U's first woman president

She'll take over after Eric Kaler steps down next year

December 14, 2018 - 1:21 pm

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents Tuesday voted unanimously to hire Joan Gabel as the school's 17th president.

She is also the first woman to hold that position in the U's history, and will begin work on July 1, 2019.

"I feel great," said Gabel to WCCO's Roshini Rajkumar shortly after getting the job. "I'm honored and humbled and excited."

When asked what Gabel plans to do first she said "listen" and really take time and develop an answer to that question.

The vote by the Board of Regents comes after Gabel had a two-hour public interview on the Twin Cities campus, where the 12 members covered a wide array of topics, including the achievement gap, athletics, tuition and revenue, and how she'll develop relationships at the capitol and students' mental health.

Gabel was also asked about her leadership style.

"You have to think of a greater good and be vulnerable to the fact that some people's ideas may be greater than your own," she said.

Gabel visited all five campuses last week for public forums to get a sense for the students, faculty and communities.

"What I see here is an incredible commitment to the state of Minnesota," she said. "You see it baked in from the very core, from the very beginning, that even precedes the state itself, that is so lovely in the idea of what it means to be a university here. You see it in the passion of every single person you visit."

Gabel said she could see herself finishing her career in Minnesota. When asked what she thought of being the first female president she said she thinks about that a lot.

"...there's nothing wrong with recognizing it. I am, who I am, but also remembering that the real importance is in the quality of the work. And if I'm a good president, if I do good work on behalf of this state, then that should show all people that anyone who brings the right experience and passion to the table can be successful," said Gabel.

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