Last week, UC President Mark Yudof was placed eighth on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of the highest paid public college leaders in America.
The list is based on figures from the 2012 fiscal year, and ranks Yudof, with a salary of $847,149, seven spots below former Pennsylvania State University System President Graham Spanier, who tops the list with a salary of $2,906,721. Yudof will be resigning from office this August amid heavy criticism for the monetary issues that have plagued the UC during his five-year tenure, including a near doubling of student tuition from $6,636 to $12,192.
According to Steve Montiel, UC Office of the President media relations director and spokesperson, the level of pay Yudof receives in salary is necessary in order to ensure that the UC system thrives under solid leadership.
“The Chronicle of Higher Education survey confirms that while the University of California pays as much as it can to attract the kind of leadership talent that has made it the best public research university system in the nation, there are several public universities — and many private universities — that pay more,” Montiel said.
A.S. President-Elect and third-year political science major Jonathan Abboud said the main controversy concerning Yudof’s high salary revolves around the fact that students have little control over the financial budget of the UC system.
“The Board of Regents is the body that is given money from the state to formulate the UC budget,” Abboud said. “Right now, we only have one Student Regent, and they historically have been grad students, not undergrads.”
However, Abboud also said the May revision of the governor’s budget provides an opportunity for students to have their voices heard.
“One of the major lines in it is a proposal to fund the UC enough through 2017 to effectively freeze tuition,” Abboud said. “We need to hold the state accountable to this and use this as a window of opportunity to lobby for a fee rollback, a.k.a. reduce tuition.”
According to Montiel, Yudof’s high salary is an economic strategy used to obtain the highest quality professionals in a system that harbors some of the most prestigious public universities in the country.
“The University of California is competing for talent with public and private universities that pay more,” Montiel said. “What we have going for us is our public mission and the fact that this is the University of California.”
According to Abboud, however, the rising cost of higher education is the result of negligence by the state of California, not the UC Regents.
“[The cost of tuition] is an egregious amount at a time when other staff is suffering,” Abboud said. “However, it is always important to be cognizant of the fact that while the administrative salaries are high, cutting them in any way will not affect tuition. The real reason behind tuition increases is the state of California’s divestment from higher education. It is only right for people like Mark Yudof to take part of the brunt alongside students.”
Third-year biology major and captain of the UCSB ski team Andrew Peterson said he understands the UC Office of the President’s justification for Yudof’s high salary but maintains that Yudof should make a symbolic gesture to empathize with students who are struggling financially.
“If he wanted to leave on a good note, he should maybe put down some of his salary for bettering the universities before he resigns as the president,” Peterson said. “He should really try to leave on a good note.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the May 16th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.