With just over a month left until he assumes the position of President of the University of California system, Mark G. Yudof will take the helm during a state budget deficit of $14.5 billion and a looming threat of student fee increases.
The president-designate will officially take office on June 16, becoming the 19th president of the UC system and replacing departing president Robert C. Dynes. Yudof’s annual compensation package of $828,084 includes a $591,084 base salary and $237,000 in additional pension payments. UC Spokesman Brad Hayward said Yudof plans to visit each of the UC campuses in the coming months, in order to meet with student leaders, faculty and administration.
In a teleconference yesterday, Yudof jokingly compared his future position to a rather morbid occupation.
“Being president is like being the manager of a cemetery,” Yudof said. “There are many people under you and no one’s listening.”
Yudof also addressed fee increases, proposing a number of solutions including Pell Grants, a federally funded need-based scholarship program.
“There is a trajectory of increases in Pell Grants which would make higher education more affordable,” Yudof said.
However, Yudof proposed his office apply pressure to state officials to provide additional aid, since students seeking privately funded education loans may struggle to obtain financial assistance due to the lack of loans currently available.
“I’m very worried about the student loan situation,” Yudof said. “I don’t have a silver bullet for you. All I can say is that we need to do a better job of persuading legislature of the value of higher education.”
According to Yudof, the proposed fee increases would have a particularly adverse impact on minority and lower income students.
“I’m making sure that this will be a priority and we devote enough scholarship money for low income people that it will help all racial and ethnic groups,” Yudof said.
A staunch supporter of affirmative action, the new president said the policy ultimately proved effective when he implemented it as chancellor of the University of Texas system.
“I’ve been a long-time advocate of affirmative action and, as part of [University of] Texas law school, we did very well with Latino and African American students,” Yudof said. “I support having diversity in California’s classrooms. That’s very important.”