September 27, 2009
QUESTIONS FOR MARK YUDOF
Big Man on Campus
By DEBORAH SOLOMON
As president of the University of California, the most prestigious of the state-university systems, you have proposed that in-state tuition be jacked up to more than $10,000, from $7,788. Are you pricing education beyond the reach of most students?
In 2009, U.C. adopted the Blue and Gold Program, guaranteeing that no student with a family income below $60,000 would pay any fees, and this guarantee will continue in 2010. That’s the short answer.
U.C. is facing a budget shortfall of at least $753 million, largely because of cuts in state financing. Do you blame Governor Schwarzenegger for your troubles?
I do not. This is a long-term secular trend across the entire country. Higher education is being squeezed out. It’s systemic. We have an aging population nationally. We have a lot of concern, as we should, with health care.
The shine is off of it. It’s really a question of being crowded out by other priorities.
Already professors on all 10 U.C. campuses are taking required “furloughs,” to use a buzzword.
Let me tell you why we used it. The faculty said “furlough” sounds more temporary than “salary cut,” and being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them.
The word “furlough,” I recently read, comes from the Dutch word “verlof,” which means permission, as in soldiers’ getting permission to take a few days off. How has it come to be a euphemism for salary cuts?
Look, I’m from West Philadelphia. My dad was an electrician. We didn’t look up stuff like this. It wasn’t part of what we did. When I was growing up we didn’t debate the finer points of what the word “furlough” meant.
How did you get into education?
I don’t know. It’s all an accident. I thought I’d go work for a law firm.
Some people feel you could close the U.C. budget gap by cutting administrative salaries, including your own.
The stories of my compensation are greatly exaggerated.
When you began your job last year, your annual compensation was reportedly $828,000.
It actually was $600,000 until I cut my pay by $60,000. So my salary is $540,000, but it gets amplified because people say, “You have a pension plan.”
What about your housing allowance? How much is the rent on your home in Oakland?
It’s about $10,000 a month.
Does U.C. pay for that on top of your salary?
Yes, and the reason they do that is because they have a president’s house, it needed $8 million of repairs and I decided that was not the way to go. Why the heck would I ever authorize $8 million for a house I didn’t want to live in anyhow?
Why can’t you have architecture students repair the house for course credit?
Let me ponder that.
Do you raise a lot of income from private donations?
We don’t do it in the office of the president. The focus is campus by campus: Santa Cruz or U.C.L.A. or Berkeley or San Diego, Davis. They have their own development offices, and I’m there to — some of the things I do very well. I smile, I shake hands, I tell jokes.
Why can’t you raise money, too?
I’m out there hustling, but I go where the chancellors invite me. Otherwise they get upset.
What about Hollywood people? Do they just give to U.C.L.A. at the expense of the other campuses?
I don’t know where they give. I’ve only met a few. I met Marg Helgenberger from “C.S.I.” at a dinner for Nobel laureates. I don’t know how either one of us got invited, but I enjoyed that, sure.
What do you think of the idea that no administrator at a state university needs to earn more than the president of the United States, $400,000?
Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company