ST. CLOUD --  The University of Minnesota plays a big role in shaping our community in Central Minnesota.

University President Eric Kaler spoke at today's (Tuesday) St. Cloud Rotary Club meeting talking about the economic value the university has in our area.

"More of 80 percent of the new physicians come from the University and all told we have nearly 300,000 alumni in the state and leaders in just about every community in every industry," says Kaler.

He says the university provides one of the largest talent forces, who end up working in the St. Cloud area. 325 physicians, 127 dentists, 71 veterinarians and 117 pharmacists in Central Minnesota are trained at the University.

Kaler also addressed the topic of school debt, saying about 39 percent of graduates leave school without debt, which is a trend for most universities.

"And they do that by making sacrifices, their families save some money, by working it's hard. But 39 percent graduate with no debt and that's the first thing you need to realize when you see the headlines of $30,000 in debt," says Kaler.

Kaler says the value for a degree has never been higher and universities are key in continued economic growth throughout the state.