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Thursday, October 28, 2021

New UC president receives vote of confidence from public

Though newly appointed University of California President Mark Yudof has yet to officially assume his position, he has received praise from students and faculty alike.

Yudof, 63, was the president of the University of Minnesota before becoming the chancellor of the University of Texas system in 2002. He will replace departing UC President Robert Dynes this summer at a date yet to be determined.

The UC announced Yudof’s appointment Mar. 27, seven months after Dynes announced his intent to step down after facing political pressure amid an executive compensation scandal. The university identified approximately 250 candidates to replace Dynes before narrowing the list down to fewer than 10, said UC spokesman Brad Hayward.

UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef had lunch with Yudof last weekend and said they discussed UC Davis and many of the exciting things that are on the horizon for us.

I’ve known Mark Yudof since his years at the University of Minnesota. He is very thoughtful, his decisions always well-reasoned, said Vanderhoef in a prepared statement to The California Aggie. He comes from a system office at the University of Texas that has similarities and dissimilarities with the University of California, both of which will inform his work here.

Ben Allen, the 2007-2008 voting UC student regent, said in a telephone interview he was optimistic Yudof would listen to student concerns.

I was really impressed by the commitment he showed to engaging with students. He apparently meets with a group of students on a regular basis at the University of Texas system. I hope he’ll continue that tradition as President of UC, said Allen, who is also a UC Berkeley law student.

According to a Mar. 27 press release, Yudof earned a bachelor’s degree and an LL.B. degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He became an assistant professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin in 1971 and became dean of the School of Law from 1984 to 1994, executive vice president and provost from 1994 to 1997, before departing for University of Minnesota. While serving as president, Yudof will hold a faculty appointment in the School of Law at UC Berkeley.

Yudof will receive a base salary of $591,084, plus a pension and car allowance that will bring the value of the package up to $828,000, excluding other health and management benefits. Dynes currently receives a base salary of $405,000 plus a car allowance of $8,916.

Allen said only time will tell if Yudof’s performance merits such a high price.

I do have mixed feelings about such a high salary, but I know that UC needs to have the best possible person for the job, he said.

Yudof’s appointment comes after several years of turbulence in the UC Office of the President. A 2006 investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle concluded that several UC executives received exorbitant compensation packages without approval from the regents and without public disclosure.

According to a May 2007 report based on both internal and external audits, Dynes violated UC policies 22 different times since 2003. Though the UC Regents pardoned Dynes and attributed blame to his advisors, Dynes received the brunt of the fallout.

Meanwhile, the University of California hired a consulting firm to restructure the UC Office of the President to improve efficiency and cut costs. Yudof will continue the restructuring effort, Hayward said.

Allen, the UC student regent, said Yudof’s appointment will turn over a new leaf for the UC.

You have to look at this in a new way, said Allen, who noted that unlike recent UC Presidents, Yudof is from outside the state. I certainly do hope that under Yudof’s leadership, there will be an improved relationship between the Regents and the UC Office of the President.

Though he will earn a top salary, Yudof has his work cut out for him in the form of a multibillion budget pitfall – a problem that’s keeping UC executives up at night, Allen said.

[The budget deficit] is a big concern, he said. The state’s financial situation is dire. We’re deeply concerned about making sure that the university stays affordable while maintaining its commitment to excellence and access.

UC Davis Academic Senate chair Linda Bisson said Yudof has a very strong record of leadership but will be faced with intense scrutiny and pressure to perform.

Unfortunately, given the problems with how the central administration has been operating, he will likely not have any sort of grace period and certainly not the luxury of inaction, she said in an e-mail interview.

But Yudof can meet such demands, Vanderhoef said.

Mark Yudof cares about people – students, staff and faculty, and the many people the university serves, he said. He will be a strong and effective leader for UC.

 

 

PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.XXX

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