- Defend his compensation package;
- Deflect blame from California Governor Schwarzenegger for the sorry state of UC's finances;
- Justify his housing allowance.
There is however one revealing bit in the interview. Asked whether he blames Gov. Schwarzenegger for UC's troubles, Yudof responds:
I do not. This is a long-term secular trend across the entire country. Higher education is being squeezed out. It’s systemic. We have an aging population nationally. We have a lot of concern, as we should, with health care.This is a long-running theme for Yudof, already rehearsed in his 2002 Chronicle piece: the trend towards de-funding public universities is mainly due to demographics and is therefore here to stay: an aging American population is more interested in health care than education.
Although President Yudof's premises might be questionable, his strategy is coherent, if poorly executed. The Pitts memos were definitely a tactical blunder (without them there would have been a much smaller action on Sept. 24, or perhaps none at all), as is this NYT interview, which can only aggravate Yudof's image problems. UCOP's tactical carelessness is probably due to the conviction that UC senior management have exclusive access to the truth (they'd better, given their compensation packages), and anybody who questions UCOP's wisdom must be in bad faith. The same kind of hubris is behind the following snippet:
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?The man is aiming high, which might be good news for the University, if not for the country.
Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?