Thursday, June 20

Mark Yudof featured speaker at Institute for Molecular Medicine seminar


University of California President Mark Yudof speaks at a seminar in the Neuroscience Research Building on Thursday.

University of California President Mark Yudof speaks at a seminar in the Neuroscience Research Building on Thursday. Brandon Choe / Daily Bruin


The original version of this article contained information that was unclear and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information. 

University of California President Mark Yudof joined the likes of renowned biologist Richard Dawkins and UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland in speaking at the UCLA Institute for Molecular Medicine weekly seminar on Thursday.

Lee Goodglick, a professor at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and host of the event, said the IMED seminar series, which has been held for the past five years, is the most popular series of its kind on campus.

The seminar regularly features Nobel Prize winners as well as scholars in the fields of science, economics, public policy and business, Goodglick said. Though the seminars, held at least weekly, are open to the public, the talks are meant to inspire discussion among South Campus students, he said.

The hourlong seminar on Thursday consisted of Yudof answering questions from Goodglick on a variety of topics, including his career as a higher-education administrator. Yudof recently announced he will step down from his position as UC president on Aug. 31.

Yudof said the long-term future of the UC depends on the implementation of new technologies, including online education, which he has strongly advocated for at past UC Board of Regents meetings.

“I think if we do (online education) in a reasonable way, a hybrid approach, with some online stuff and some real-life stuff … it could be better than a traditional classroom,” Yudof said.

Nick Hardy, a graduate student at the School of Medicine, said he came to the event hoping to hear something honest about the state of the UC’s future.

“I’m going to be here for a while so learning about the state of things is going to be to my benefit,” Hardy said.

Hardy said he felt Yudof answered the questions with relative candor, but was discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm that the president showed.

“Overall I feel it was informative but not necessarily encouraging or exciting,” he said.

Yudof also addressed compensation of some UC employees. The vast majority of people at the UC who make more than $1 million are doctors and athletic coaches, he said. Though he said he thinks coaches’ salaries are “out of control,” he defended high pay for other employees.

“If you don’t pay the prevailing wage you don’t get (top-rate doctors) to come to UCLA; they go to USC, or they go to Mount Sinai or they go somewhere else,” Yudof said.

When asked about the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where the Master of Business Administration program has been considering becoming financially independent from UC funds, Yudof said he could “imagine a world” where the program would become more self-supporting, freeing up funds for students in the liberal arts. Yudof added that he was waiting for the proposal to go through the faculty review process.

Yudof said he is opposed to a model of privatization that would include freedom to set tuition and policies, because that might lead to a shift away from the priorities of a public university.

Yudof also answered several questions about what qualities he thinks are necessary in his successor. He said his responsibilities as UC president are more political than administrative.

“The University president … is more a mediator between the faculty and regents, between the California governor and legislature, and a mediator between different parts of the student body,” he said.

Yudof said that after he steps down he might write a book about his experience with the various state governors he has worked with during his career.

“I might have a bestseller on my hands,” he said. “Or a movie.”

Clarification: When asked about the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where the Master of Business Administration program has been considering becoming financially independent from UC funds, Yudof said he could “imagine a world” where the program would become more self-supporting, freeing up funds for students in the liberal arts. Yudof added that he was waiting for the proposal to go through the faculty review process. Yudof said he is opposed to a model of privatization that would include freedom to set tuition and policies, because that might lead to a shift away from the priorities of a public university.

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