A week before the UC Regents voted to increase fees by 32.5 percent, the Nov. 23 issue of Time Magazine named UC President Mark Yudof as one of the 10 best college presidents in the United States. Yudof was acknowledged for repairing the nearly bankrupt UC system and was chosen because he “tools around dilapidated campuses and fixes them.”
The University Office of the President (UCOP) said it is very proud of the recognition.
“He is being recognized for his lifetime achievement of dedication to higher education,” said UC Spokesman Pete Kanes. “He has a way of making universities better places when he leaves than when he got there, like he did at Texas and Minnesota … he makes decisions based on what he thinks is right for the university, even if it makes him unpopular.”
UCSC community studies lecturer Mike Rotkin commented that Yudof’s award did not come as a surprise.
“As the flagship magazine for a corporate media empire, they share his values,” Rotkin said of the magazine. “Yudof is showing great success in his efforts to privatize what was once a great public institution of higher learning and turn it into, in all but name, a private university that is inaccessible to the children of the working people of California — a university which protects it’s profit centers, such as patents, hospitals, overhead on grants and private and corporate donations, at the expense of undergraduate education.”
Yudof began his career in education as a law professor at the University of Texas before he became the dean of the law school. According to the Time article, during his 26 years of employment at the University of Texas, he supported tuition deregulation that gave campuses the power to set fees. In 1997, he became the president of the University of Minnesota, where he secured funding for research and renovated the campus.
In 2008, he was named the 19th president of the UC system, and in 2009 he proposed that student fees be increased by 32.5 percent to make up for a loss of state funds. That fee increase was passed by the UC Regents in late November.
By hiking fees, Yudof plans to finance the Blue and Gold Program, which exempts California residents who make less than $70,000 a year from paying fees.
According to UCOP, the UC currently provides grant and scholarship assistance averaging $10,300 per student to 54 percent of the 230,000 UC undergraduates.
UC Santa Barbara Associate Dean of Social Sciences Leila J. Rupp sent a written response to Time regarding the nomination.
“[Yudof] is the target of [more] opposition from faculty and students than any other academic leader in my more than 30 years on the faculty,” Rupp said. “And not just because of the furloughs.”
According to a database kept by the University of California, which allows users to search the salary of any employee of the UC system, Yudof earned a gross salary of $326,791 in 2008.
Bob Samuels, the president of the University Council American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) and a lecturer at UC Los Angeles, commented on Time’s award for Yudof.
“Time Magazine must like the way Yudof has been able to drive up the cost of education while lowering it’s quality,” Samuels said. “Since he has been the president, we have seen fees go up 42 percent, while lecturers have been eliminated and classes have been cut. Yudof might be good at getting high bond ratings, but he has managed to unite most people at the University against him.”
According to Samuels’ blog at http://changinguniversities.blogspot.com, over 3,643 employees of the UC system earn more than $200,000 a year. Since 2006, 1,200 more employees were added to this number. However, according to UCOP, those who make over $240,000 took a 10 percent pay cut this year.
Samuels thinks Yudof’s choice to raise student fees while administrators are making hundreds of thousands of dollars is a mistake.
“UC doesn’t need to raise student fees again,” Samuels said.
Second-year Ian Steinman agrees that Yudof should not be receiving Time’s recognition.
“It makes sense that a publication as representative of private interests as Time Magazine would consider Yudof a great president,” Steinman said. “Yudof is the manager responsible for minimizing dissent here and making the transition from a public to a private institution as smooth and unrecognizable as possible.”
Steinman also said that he thinks it is time for students to take action.
“His ranking [in] Time Magazine acts as an affirmation of the tremendous task before the new student movement and the work that must be done to discredit him and the project he represents.”