UC President Yudof's shockingly irresponsible, culpably cavalier attitude toward California's once great university system and toward higher education in general became pathetically clear in the New York Times interview published today. Surely the Regents must recognize by now that Yudof is unfit for the leadership position he holds, and even more so for the enormously increased powers the Regents granted this past summer by giving him emergency powers to slash budgets. His claim to listen to those below--in the cemetery, in his distasteful image--is exposed here by the disregard he displays for genuine academic and democratic values cherished in public higher education. His arrogance, his contempt for the interests of those he is charged to lead and protect, his egotistical posture of noblesse oblige toward legitimate questions regarding his compensation demand action by the Regents.
Ever the demagogue, Yudof dismisses questions regarding the longterm defunding and privatization of UC by pointing to the short-term, immediate business cycle downturn. But worse, he also seeks to foment a form of social war between the elderly, in need of health care, and the young, in need of education that will enable them to make the very contributions that now entitle older fellow citizens to health and income security. This opportunisitc exploitation of the current debate over health care policy is only the most cynical aspect of a shameful performance by Yudof, not only in the NYT interview, but generally. Even though we hold the governor and the dysfunctional legislature of our state ultimately responsible for undermining the historic and honorable mission of UC, we cannot overlook the complicity of Yudof in this process--the enabling "cover" that he has supplied for defunding, now on public display in the NY Times.
Regents, remember whom you serve and represent. Call this self-created "big man" to account. Discipline him. Reject his statements as unrepresentative of, and beneath the dignity of, the University of Califonia. At the first opportunity, remove him.
Mary O. Furner
Professor of History, UCSB