University of California President Mark Yudof visited UCSB yesterday to deliver a speech on the importance of accountability in the university system.

The event – titled “Accountability and Quality in Higher Education: Are they Compatible?” – was the fourth installment of the Gevirtz School of Education’s “Policy Goes to School” series. The discussion was co-sponsored by various campus offices and welcomed professors, deans and other distinguished faculty to discuss the responsibilities of higher education.

According to Yudof, accountability extends beyond the university level.

“I view accountability as here to stay – a permanent feature of not just higher education but also American life,” Yudof said.

The president also emphasized that the University has an obligation to communicate openly with the students.

“We owe it to our students,” Yudof said. “We should try to be as transparent as possible. With the level of trust in larger scale public institutions, the public expects more accountability in the process.”

Yudof said he has found that UC officials tend to shy away from dealing directly with liability issues.

“I sometimes feel like academics are the deer in the headlights when someone mentions accountability,” Yudof said. “We just don’t want to deal with it.”

Yudof proposed some points to improve liability communication – improving the use of data, understanding that the university is composed of multiple layers of goals and supplying graduates with the proper tools to succeed in the real world.

Yudof added that although published research and articles on accountability matters are available on the UC Web site, he suspects few people seek out the information.

“I often feel like my best-kept secrets I have put up on the University of California Web site,” Yudof said. “That guarantees that no one will read it.”

Yudof also discussed his personal efforts to communicate, as well as his attempts to learn modern social network technologies.

“I was an early adopter of accountability, [but] I was slow to figure it out,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure out Twitter and Facebook, since someone told me I’m apparently on both.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Yudof added, “My speeches are longer than War and Peace, just not as funny.”

The lecture was followed by a question and answer session, addressing such concerns as the new admissions policy and life after graduation.