Saturday, September 26, 2009

Former Minnesota President Mark Yudof Steps In It...

Or Does He?

My idol as an academic blogger, Margaret Soltan, has an interesting post up wherein she lumps Mark Yudof with:

" a thousand clowns like Mark Yudof at the heads of American universities. Their bouncy personalities play well among potential donors, but they fall down badly when it’s time to get serious."

I confess to being a great admirer of Mr. Yudof. See, for example: "On the Approaching Tenth Anniversary of Mark Yudof’s Inauguration As President of the University of Minnesota."

The basis for UD's (Dr. Soltan's handle) scorn is an interview in the New York Times magazine:

As president of the University of California, the most prestigious of the state-university systems, you have proposed that in-state tuition be jacked up to more than $10,000, from $7,788. Are you pricing education beyond the reach of most students?

In 2009, U.C. adopted the Blue and Gold Program, guaranteeing that no student with a family income below $60,000 would pay any fees, and this guarantee will continue in 2010. That’s the short answer.

Already professors on all 10 U.C. campuses are taking required “furloughs,” to use a buzzword.

Let me tell you why we used it. The faculty said “furlough” sounds more temporary than “salary cut,” and being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them.

The word “furlough,” I recently read, comes from the Dutch word “verlof,” which means permission, as in soldiers’ getting permission to take a few days off. How has it come to be a euphemism for salary cuts?

Look, I’m from West Philadelphia. My dad was an electrician. We didn’t look up stuff like this. It wasn’t part of what we did. When I was growing up we didn’t debate the finer points of what the word “furlough” meant.

How did you get into education?

I don’t know. It’s all an accident. I thought I’d go work for a law firm.

Some people feel you could close the U.C. budget gap by cutting administrative salaries, including your own.

The stories of my compensation are greatly exaggerated.

When you began your job last year, your annual compensation was reportedly $828,000.

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.”

[Cough, cough... Earth to President Bruininks: Go thou and do likewise?]

What do you think of the idea that no administrator at a state university needs to earn more than the president of the United States, $400,000?

Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?

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