Text of New York Times Magazine “Big Man on Campus”

These are some of the highlights from Deborah Solomon’s interview of UC President Mark Yudof as published on September 24, 2009.

And education?

The shine is off of it. It’s really a question of being crowded out by other priorities.

Already professors on all 10 U.C. campuses are taking required “furloughs,” to use a buzzword.

Let me tell you why we used it. The faculty said “furlough” sounds more temporary than “salary cut,” and being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them.

The word “furlough,” I recently read, comes from the Dutch word “verlof,” which means permission, as in soldiers’ getting permission to take a few days off. How has it come to be a euphemism for salary cuts?

Look, I’m from West Philadelphia. My dad was an electrician. We didn’t look up stuff like this. It wasn’t part of what we did. When I was growing up we didn’t debate the finer points of what the word “furlough” meant.

How did you get into education?

I don’t know. It’s all an accident. I thought I’d go work for a law firm.

Some people feel you could close the U.C. budget gap by cutting administrative salaries, including your own.

The stories of my compensation are greatly exaggerated.


What about your housing allowance? How much is the rent on your home in Oakland?

It’s about $10,000 a month.

Does U.C. pay for that on top of your salary?

Yes, and the reason they do that is because they have a president’s house, it needed $8 million of repairs and I decided that was not the way to go. Why the heck would I ever authorize $8 million for a house I didn’t want to live in anyhow?


What do you think of the idea that no administrator at a state university needs to earn more than the president of the United States, $400,000?

Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?

For the entire interview, visit: the http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27fob-q4-t.html