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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We Are All Corpses Now?

There were kick-off events of Sept 23-24 all over the UC system, and they seem to have succeeded at their goals of making the cuts visible - or audible - and expressing deep commitment to the public status of the University of California. We've linked to news coverage at left, and await video and further descriptions of the specific commentary.
How did UC's various senior managers react?  Berkeley's issued what I read as a backhanded thank-you note.  But before we could detect signs of any administrative rethinking of strategy, we received the e-version of President Mark Yudof's "Big Man on Campus" interview in the New York Times, and our email went absolutely nuts.
The first wave mostly asked whether the interview was a parody - it seemed so offensive, thoughtless and crass.  My own first reaction was surprise at the self-demolition of the carefully cultivated image of Yudof as a sober defender of UC's public character.  As people realized that they were not reading The Onion or an NYT mirror site, surprise was replaced by anger -click here for excerpts.  See also Jonathan Lemeul's analysis of  UC Yahooisms below,  and Akos Róna-Tas's thorough description of Yudof the undertaker.  Dean Dad also gets in his licks.
All excerpts were sent to lists rather than to any of us personally (the title above is from one of them). They signal a depth of concern about the state of UC leadership that many of those leaders seem to feel free to ignore as the university's tradition of open exchange has to compete increasingly with message management.
I have also posted the best description we have received of Mark Yudof's positive achievements in his year as president.  It's worth factoring in at a moment like this - not to produce ambivalence, but greater clarity about how to work (or not) with UCOP.
Addendum: Michael Salman digs up a brief history of Yudofian cemetery jokes.  And then he adds his own assessment of Yudofian competence.
Addendum 2: Prof. Mary Furner writes the Regents; other excerpts are added to that list.
I ask Mark Yudof to at least tweet a dissent from this description of his general attitude.  And better than a self-dissent would be an apology.


Bronwen Rowlands said...

I'm glad that UC faculty are finally beginning to see Mark Yudof for what he is. It's not a secret, folks, and it's not new. (Do a simple Google search for "Mark Yudof cemetery.") Think for a moment about the fact that Yudof is proud of that NYT interview. Consider also that Dick Blum and the Blumettes knew exactly what they were getting when they hired him to be president.

Anonymous said...

A petition demanding Yudof's resgination is in order.

Gerry Barnett said...

The shine is off UCOP, for sure. No where has higher education been well served by a burl-like officialdom.
Any UCOF working groups considering this?

Anonymouse! said...

Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not at home and I don't have access to the original email), but wasn't the furlough presented to us *by UCOP* as the easier, temporary option; thus making this:

"[t]he faculty said 'furlough' sounds more temporary than 'salary cut'"

highly misleading, or worse yet, a flat-out lie?

And we're supposed to feel like he's on our side?

Gerry Barnett said...

There were four great options: treat the budget cuts as (1) a state cash flow problem (then salary is "deferred" and restored when resources allow); (2) permanent reductions reflecting a lower value of education to the state (then salary is "cut" to acknowledge the reduced status); (3)a sign of excess and waste (then folks are "furloughed" to recognize and reduce the inefficiencies temporarily pending reorganization); (4) a punishment for failures to lead, prioritize, and execute (then incumbents are fired and positions cut and work reorganized around new mission and functions by those who know how things should be and have a will to lead them properly).

The impression of the UCOF plan of working groups is that folks have chosen a 3, and the effort now is to repackage UC with data to avoid a 2. Perhaps folks are in denial. Maybe the cuts were a 4 that's been misread, and all along everyone is hoping it was all just a 1-sie and things will bounce back to "normal".

Kevin Falvey said...

Kanye West had his "jackass moment" last week at the MTV awards. Mark Yudof had his with this interview.

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Yudof, but that person who does these interviews for the NYT (Deborah Soloman) is somewhat know form chopping up interviews and editing to her own interest and amusement. If you google nyt public editor + deborah soloman you'll find a whole slew of letters complaining about her. Just sayin'

I don't think I'd call for anyone's firing based on this. There is plenty of other on which to base.

Anonymous said...


That thought crossed my mind, too. Maybe the NYT chopped up his interview...

But then I noted that Yudof bragged about the interview on his twitter twitterings, and he has not uttered a peep about being mis-quoted or badly edited.

Frankly, the cemetery remark and the "shine is off" comment speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Well, if he is standing by the Q&A then shame on him.
Thanks for the update.

pootrat said...


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