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UC President Mark Yudof Dispels Claims About System Shortcomings

by Michael Higham, published

Mark Yudof UC President speaking Photo Credit: Isaac Arjonilla, Daily Bruin

University of California President Mark Yudof has faced criticism during his tenure as leader of the prestigious 10-campus system. However, he explains there is more to his role than raising tuition and cutting services.

President Yudof released a "State of the University of California" address to reflect on the past 5 years as leader of the system. He also looked into the future to give fair warning of the challenges ahead since he will be stepping down as president of the UC system in August.

He understands that the UC administration has been characterized by some in the public and political sphere as overly bureaucratic and self-serving:

"Embedded within this narrative are a host of myths — that tenured and tenuretrack professors are not teaching undergraduates, that UC is prohibitively expensive, that poor students cannot afford to attend, and that graduates take on unparalleled student loan debt, that University endowments may be easily tapped to cover undergraduate education costs, that UC makes no effort to raise money, only to raise tuition, and so on."

The address states that average workload for full-time professors has gone up 10 percent. He explains that costs of education are addressed by financial aid innovations like the Blue and Gold program, covering tuition for students with under $80,000 in annual family income, and Pell Grant expansion.

While student loan debt remains a large factor in an uncertain job market, the average debt owed by UC students has not gone up significantly. Average debt for UC graduating seniors was at $18,779 in the 2011-2012 academic year. In the 1999-2000 academic year, that average was at $17,007.

As for higher tuition costs, Yudof says:

"Some political leaders have demanded freezes on further tuition increases—while insisting, at the same time, that quality and access remain robust."

Annual tuition for all UC campuses has gone from $6,634 six years ago to $12,849, nearly doubling. The UC system's total operating budget for the 2011-2012 academic year was $22.5 billion. Six years ago, that number was at $15.3 billion.

Governor Jerry Brown is calling for a 4-year tuition freeze for the UC and CSU systems while Mark Yudof argues that freezes put a strain on the UC's ability to continue many of its current services. This current situation highlights one of Yudof's concerns for the next UC president:

"It now appears unlikely, given current financial and political realities, that the level of state support needed for public institutions to maintain this paradigm will return to the hey-day of baby-boom levels—at least in the foreseeable future."

Mark Yudof spoke with the Public Policy Institute of California to discuss these challenges earlier in May.

It's common and sometimes natural to point to high ranking officials for the tough times faced. Holding leaders accountable is imperative, but understanding the situations and their work is just as important.

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