Case Western Reserve University’s new president introduced himself to the campus community this morning by describing the ‘shared journey’ they would help shape.

“As we move forward, your learning, your research, your breakthroughs, your innovations, your engagement, and your support will propel us along our shared journey,” Kaler wrote in an email to faculty, staff and students. “A shared journey that prioritizes and embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion every step of the way. A shared journey that balances discovery with sustainability. A shared journey that values facts and data, and the hidden—and sometimes not-so-hidden—stories they tell us. And a shared journey that advocates for social justice and promotes the common good.”

Eight months after the university announced his appointment—and six days after arriving at Harcourt House—Kaler this week thanked former Interim President Scott Cowen, who had led the university since Oct. 1. The two had spoken at least weekly since November, with Cowen updating his successor-to-be on COVID-19 protocols and progress, as well as other university developments. 

The two men, both former university presidents, regularly found themselves agreeing on approaches to various issues. Over time, Cowen’s own gratitude grew, as he increasingly recognized that Kaler’s strengths matched well with the university’s current needs and opportunities.

“I have found him to be a deeply thoughtful, innovative, strategic and pragmatic leader,” Cowen said yesterday. “Now that I am returning to the university’s Board of Trustees, I look forward to watching him engage with the campus and broader community to take Case Western Reserve to even higher levels of impact, excellence, and stature.”

In addition to engaging with Cowen, Kaler met with individual trustees and attended the two board meetings that took place after his appointment. 

“As much as Eric impressed us during the search process, every interaction since has only strengthened our confidence that he is the right person to lead Case Western Reserve at this time,” said Board Chair Fred DiSanto, who also led the search committee. “His prior presidential experience gives him great perspective and clarity—not only about what this university can become, but also how we can get there.”

During his years leading the University of Minnesota, Kaler’s wife, Karen, regularly attended and hosted events, often serving as an unofficial—but extremely effective—ambassador for the campus. In this morning’s message to the Case Western Reserve community, the new president also expressed gratitude to Karen, “who will be a tireless supporter of us all.”