Wednesday, April 24

Yudof is sending mixed signals

Editor's Note: Today's cartoon is a visual supplement to the written editorial.

Editor's Note: Today's cartoon is a visual supplement to the written editorial. / Daily Bruin

In a recent interview with The New York Times Magazine, UC President Mark Yudof gave tongue-in-cheek answers to forthright questions about the statewide budget crisis’ impact on the University of California.

This is a period of serious financial strife for both the UC system and the state, yet Yudof gave irreverent non-answers during his interview with one of the most widely circulated national publications. As the public face of the UC system, it was inappropriate to answer serious questions about an urgent situation with one-liners.

Yudof gave sarcastic responses to several questions, which ran the gamut from his oft-scrutinized salary to his philosophy about education.

On his exorbitant salary, Yudof said: “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.’”

Yet Yudof said in a different interview on Saturday with UC student journalists, including the Daily Bruin, that he doesn’t have control over his compensation: “Write to the (UC) Board of Regents ““ they set my salary, they won’t let me set my own. I’d prefer to set my own, but it doesn’t work that way.”

While Yudof said he’s “out there hustling” to fundraise for the UC, his $10,000 monthly rent is subsidized ““ and when he was asked how he feels about making more than the president of the United States ““ who makes $400,000 ““ he responded, “Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?”

Perhaps the most striking comment from Yudof during his interview with The Times came when he compared being president of the University of California to being the manager of a cemetery: “There are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them.”

We all enjoy a good laugh, but how will the state take the UC’s campaign for more funding seriously if the president compares his constituents to a graveyard?

Yudof defines the UC’s national portrait with whatever attitude he projects, and his flippant commentary on a crisis that has cost thousands their jobs makes him appear dismissive and out of touch with the people he has sworn to represent.

Yet Yudof also recently released a commentary piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “Why the University of California Has to Raise Tuition.” Here, the president casts a much graver tone on the UC’s predicament.

Yudof writes that he wants to speak directly to the students: “There is the pain of not being able to get into courses needed to complete a degree on-schedule, of long lines at every turn, of decaying facilities, of outdated lab equipment.”

In sharp contrast to his interview with The Times, the president’s article acknowledges the hardships we face.

Why didn’t Yudof bring some of this candor to his interview with a national magazine?

This board has some trouble trusting Yudof to represent us after reading his piece in The New York Times. We trust and assume that the answers he gave The Times were not taken out of context, and given that fact, this board seriously urges the president to remember that he is the public and national face of the University of California.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board.

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