Mark Yudof was one of the more intriguing personalities to roll through these parts. During his five years as president of the University of Minnesota, he started a massive building and renovation program on campus, got to know the students through pancake breakfasts, and butted heads with Jesse Ventura on a regular basis. He also gave sullied basketball coach Clem Haskins a ton of money just to go away, and then tried to get it back. Eventually he went back to Texas, declaring his love for the Lone Star State.
Now Yudof is saddling up and moving on to California. He’s about to be officially named the president of the University of California system.
It’s good news for the jewels of the UC system but some of the lesser lights might be troubled. According to Richard Blum, chairman of the selection committee and the UC Board of Regents, the only real negative they could find about Yudof is he focuses on the premier parts of his institutions.
“He has shown no interest in the UT Pan Americans or the UT Brownsvilles,” said Tom Johnson, executive director of the Texas Faculty Association to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It is all about UT Austin because that is what the world knows about. It is about the high-profile programs.”
That may sounds familiar to fans of the U’s old General College, but it wasn’t Yudof’s fault. Yudof’s predecessor, Nils Hasselmo, tried to close the college. Yudof championed the college, and his successor, Robert Bruininks , shuttered the school, which had been a gateway for under-prepared metro-area high school students, many of whom are immigrants and people of color. It was combined into the College of Education.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Yudof has his work cut out for him in California, a state with a bad budget picture, the threat of layoffs, and the probability of big increases for students.