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… from the president of the University of California system in this Sunday’s New York Times magazine. The interviewer asks serious questions about his compensation, and he tries to turn them into jokes. Not a very clever move when your system’s in financial crisis.

[Q]:: 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?

[A]:: Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?

An excellent question. A serious question. Why do presidents at state — or for that matter private — universities earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the country’s president? Clearly university presidents do far less, have far less onerous responsibilities, etc.

The answer is that boards of trustees, usually composed of corporate players with millions of dollars in annual compensation, consider half a million dollars in salary peanuts. They think of their university’s president as shockingly impoverished. That’s what you get when your trustees no longer have anything to do with public service, with education as such, and everything to do with the acquisition of personal wealth.

California’s president might have mused on this transformation of the university into a money-making machine for coaches and presidents, but he decided to do a borscht-belt shtick instead.

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.

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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.”

Well, yes, that’s what people say because he does, and it’s part of his compensation package. As is free housing, transportation, and lots of other stuff that make the half million plus in salary unjustifiable, especially while terrible cutbacks go on all over campus.

UD‘s chronicled 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.

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Update:

Tweets.

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2 Responses to “An embarrassing performance…”

  1. Bill Gleason Says:

    This is very disappointing.

    Mark Yudof was president of the University of Minnesota for a brief period of time. I think that he was a wonderful president and that things have gone down hill since he left. Perhaps it is the economy.

    The man could write. Or he had someone on his staff who could. For some excerpts from his inaugural address at Minnesota, please see:

    "On the Approaching Tenth Anniversary of Mark Yudof’s Inauguration
    As President of the University of Minnesota"

    at

    http://ptable.blogspot.com/2007/09/on-approaching-tenth-anniversary-of.html

  2. Total Says:

    Yeah, careful: Deborah Solomon, the reporter in question, has a long history of rearranging her interviews, enough that the _Times_ public editor came down pretty hard on her once.

    So Yudof may be an idiot, or he may have been helped to look like an idiot.

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