Why the Resignation?

They don’t seem to be looking in the same direction.

President Yudof resigned shortly after last week’s Regents meeting.  Undoubtedly, the resignation was planned earlier so nothing that specifically happened at the meeting could have been the triggering event.  The official press release mentioned health, family, etc., obliquely.

While the Regents meeting was not the trigger, I would guess that what happened at the meeting was no surprise and could have been anticipated by anyone who heard or attended prior meetings.  The governor wants to take a bigger role than have prior governors.  That’s fine by itself, but the question is how should that role be played out.  There can’t be two presidents of UC.  (We noted in an earlier blog that the governor at one point at an earlier meeting said he was the President of UC, although he is President of the Board of Regents.)  But there seemed to be little push-back from the Regents about the governor’s intentions.  If I were Yudof in that circumstance, I would quit, too.

A key role of the Regents is providing a degree of insulation from state politics for UC.  Obviously, that insulation can never be total.  Indeed, the fact that the Regents include key political leaders as ex officio members suggests the ambiguity.  Nonetheless, issues such as online education, while sexy and of obvious interest to the governor, are ultimately getting close to crossing the fine line of micro-management.  There need to be improvements in UC management, to be sure, but micro-managing is not one of them.

If there is to be a new relationship between UC and the state, it cannot be developed by the governor, or the president of UC, or even the Regents in some unilateral fashion.  As we noted in a prior post, the only way it can be done is a process something like the one that produced the Master Plan originally.  It may be that we need a restructuring of the way in which UC is managed and the way the Regents are structured.  And let’s keep in mind that the state is putting in only about $1 dollar in $10 of the UC budget.  Students are putting in a roughly similar amount.  So there is a big institution to be considered, much of which is outside the purview of state attention.

The Yudof resignation announcement says “UC remains the premier public university system in the world…”  Note that the qualifier – premier PUBLIC university – has crept into the description in recent years.  And yet the official comparison-8 universities on which UC is supposedly benchmarked are half public and half private.  The governor’s statement that UC wants 11.6% as a state budget increase but will only get 5% – which he implies is a long-term indicator of budgetary reality – suggests the obvious.  The state can’t afford the old UC/Master Plan model.  So a new model is needed and, at the moment, we can’t get there from here.

The Yudof resignation announcement is at:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/28955

An article about the resignation in Inside Higher Ed today can be found at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/21/yudof-retire-president-u-california

UPDATE: The LA Times today carries a story about how the governor wants to reshape the community colleges.  Again, this is Master Plan stuff.  The original Master Plan was intended to coordinate the three segments of higher ed: UC, what is now CSU, and the community colleges.  The article is at:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-college-budget-20130121,0,904916.story

UPDATE: Columnist Joe Mathews wonders whether the governor should be running UC, CSU, and the community colleges and thinks it is a bit much:
http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2013/01/chancellor-brown/

One thought on “Why the Resignation?

  1. This is terrifying. Just as Yudof's UC Presidency was, sure as shooting, a creation of Dick Blum, the next denizen of the President's suite in Oakland might well be a creation of Jerry Brown. With J.B.'s interest in on-line education, who might we wind up with? Well, the very often misguided but articulate Chris Edley seems always willing to front some bad ideas to move up the food chain…I am really hoping that, in 12-18 months, we are not nostalgic for Mark Yudof…but am really worried that we might be.

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