Joan Gabel has only been president of the University of Minnesota for seven weeks, and she wasted no time acquainting herself with Alexandria.

Gabel made a visit on Saturday to the Douglas County Fair, where she was joined by Thomas Anderson of Alexandria, one of 12 members of the University of Minnesota board of regents. She wanted to see this part of the state, which she described as “wonderful.”

Having a statewide presence and following the school’s mission statement is important to her, she said. The mission statement says the university believes in enriching lives by understanding and sharing knowledge for a diverse community.

“I’m just having a really great time and I’m really glad to be here,” she said.

Gabel is originally from New York City but now resides in Minneapolis. While visiting the fair, she stopped by many booths, introducing herself and doing a good amount of listening. She also met Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson.

Her goals for the visit were to speak with people in economic development and agriculture to foster relationships that would impact the state.

“I want to keep the good things going and see what else might come down the road,” she said. "I’m trying to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. I want to keep partnerships going with the next generation of leaders in health sciences and research.”

As president, Gabel wants to focus on fiscal stewardship and make sure the university is making careful investments. She also mentioned the global impact that research and instruction can create.

“We are very careful with how we educate students," she said.

With the ongoing concerns about the increasing costs of tuition nationwide, Gabel said the university is trying hard to make sure tuition is affordable. She said 40% of students who graduate don't have any college debt.