by Velma Montoya, Ph.D., UC Regent-emerita
Peter Schrag’s profile of UC president Mark Yudof in San Francisco Modern Luxury deserves an A grade for keeping Yudof happy. This article could have benefited from enhanced reporting.
First, the Regents never “came calling” to Yudof in Texas. It is solely UC Regents Chairman Blum who did so. Blum essentially imposed Yudof on the Board. Blum meant well, but a number of Regents resented this imposition. And Yudof made little attempt to overcome this resentment. Some very powerful Regents were offended that Yudof did not reach out to introduce himself to them. (In contrast, when Robert Dynes became UC President he made a point to meet and learn the concerns of every Regent on his/her home turf, showing up for lunch with me at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel even though I had only about a year left in my term). And now that Blum is no longer Chairman, some Regents admit they were unwilling to confront Blum’s method or choice of Yudof because they wished to remain in the good graces of Blum’s U.S. Senator wife.
Second, there’s lots of contrary evidence that Yudof left Minnesota and Texas universities “bigger and grander than when he came.” In particular, Minnesotans were happy that Yudof’s leavetaking meant they could finally find a university president who would consider building them a football stadium, and a quick search of University of Texas professors’ association sites offers myriad reasons why they were happy to see Yudof go. The Texas professors’ sites also predicted a lot of Yudof’s managerial problems at UC. In other words, evidence here is mixed.
Third, after Dynes was sidelined, UC Provost Wyatt R. Hume served as Acting UC President for almost a year. It is Hume who led and managed the downsizing of 450-plus people in the UC Office of the President. Hume made a number of presentations to the Regents during that period about how he was downsizing UCOP. Indeed, Yudof currently is being criticized for adding back a number of high-paid positions to UCOP.
Fourth, how can Schrag label critics of UC administrators as populist opportunists? I believe UC Berkeley professor-emeritus Charles Schwartz is sincere in his claims that undergraduate student fees cover undergraduate student education, although I disagree with his finding and methodology. And UC Santa Cruz Professor and President of the Council of UC Faculty Associations Robert Meister is absolutely correct in reporting that UC has pledged student fees in the repayment of construction bonds. Whether this is proper or not, I do not know. UC administrators stonewalled Meister before presenting him with limited answers concerning this practice.
Fifth, I disagree that Yudof inherited an UC administration that was disengaged from the process in Sacramento. In the opinion of many Regents, UC President Atkinson, External Affairs Vice President Darling and UC Sacramento Office Director Arditti were overly solicitous to Legislative requests. Apparently Yudof and Schrag are ignorant of the Latino legislators’ leverage over numerous changes in UC admissions policies over the past decade.
Sixth, Yudof’s current push for the federal government to save public research universities is contrary to Yudof’s published statements attributing diminished state support, first, to the aging of the U.S. population, as resources are shifted from education to senior citizens’ other areas of interest, such as health care and security, and, second, to globalization, as multi-national corporations become less tied to specific geographic locations and thus less interested in developing well-educated, local workforces. These arguments explain why UC’s advocacy requests for increased funding from the California Legislature yield limited results.
Finally, like Schrag I find Yudof personally engaging and smart. And, like Schrag, I question whether UC — and society — can afford a law school at UC Irvine.
 Mark Yudof, “Higher Tuitions: Harbinger of a Hybrid University?,” Change Magazine, March/April 2002.