Saturday, September 26, 2009

UC President Interview

Luca Trevisan points to this NY Times Magazine interview with UC president Mark Yudof. Is it just me, or is this guy just completely tone deaf to the current situation in the UC system? If I were a faculty member, or student, in the UC system, this would do the opposite of inspire me. (I checked with my wife, as I often do in such situations, to check my reading -- she had a similar reaction to the piece.) In fact, I'm trying to think of the last time I heard of an administrator that seemed so out of touch... oh, wait, that's right, I can think of that...

8 comments:

Existential Type said...

His attitude is typical among university administrators nationwide. Perhaps Harvard has (largely) escaped this trend, but at lesser (or less well-endowed) universities administrators routinely express contempt for academic ideals, which are regarded as childish and obsolete. More and more often we hear that universities ought to be (and, increasingly, are) run "like businesses." This sort of attitude can only arise from people who, deep down, have no respect, much less love, for academics.

Anonymous said...

This is bad... very bad.. And I think the reason is that in United States universities exist so that people can study there and make lots of money later. No one cares about the higher goals, and pursuit of knowledge. So, this is just the side effect of this mentality.
If people come to these places, thinking about money then why should universities not make more....
The only solution is that universities should be publicly funded, tution reduced and education should be available for all.

Anonymous UC Prof said...

Deborah Solomon does fake interviews.

She has a conversation with her subjects, then pastes together excerpts from her subjects, makes up her "questions" after the fact and tacks them on. The result is intended to look like a record of a question-and-answer interview -- but that isn't what actually took place behind the scenes.

Of course, I can't help wonder why anyone would agree to an interview with Deborah Solomon, given these questionable reporting methods.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/opinion/14pubed.html?pagewanted=all
http://www.nypress.com/article-17317-questions-for-the-questioner.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/10/03/new-york-press-raps-debor_n_66969.html

Geoffrey Britain said...

I have no doubt the a NY Times columnist would cut & paste, invent questions after the interview and enthusiastically engage in what is known as 'agenda' journalism.

I also have no doubt that the NY Times fully supports every leftist college administrator in the country.

It is much more likely that neither Solomon nor Yudof have any idea how they come across.

They haven't a clue.

M said...

It could be that the interview was heavily edited. Knowing the New York Times, they likely took his long answers and figured they were distilling the essence of them. Unfortunately, when you're talking about tough issues (including those outside the job description) to someone with the type of job no child fantasizes about growing up to be, short summaries are going to sound cold and out-of-touch. He doesn't strike me as the type to respond to an out-of-context interview, but it would be interesting to see if he did. He might be just as bad in context, but context is the first thing I thought of when seeing this.

As to the assertion from Anonymous that people come to the university to make money after graduation, there are many people who believe that the problem is precisely the opposite. People go to college not to learn a trade, but because "they should," then spend the years taking whatever they feel like, without regard to whether the knowledge and skills will be useful past their last day of school. So we've got parents who spend tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for their children's education, only to find out that the children haven't learned anything of use and are just as financially dependent as they were as teenagers (something exacerbated by recessions such as the current one). Worse, they might not learn general critical thinking skills, but a certain type of thinking which is useful for succeeding in their department, but useless to harmful outside of academia. (Of course, I'm not talking about engineers here --- hopefully! --- but if a student has nothing but "love of academics," he or she might wind up ill prepared for anything else.)

Michael Mitzenmacher said...

Thanks for the comments -- it's an interesting point that the interview may have been "edited" in a way that the responses come out worse than they might otherwise have, and it would explain how strange the flow of the interview seems. Still, I think, it does not paint a flattering picture of Mark Yudof; and now, based on what I've read of Deborah Solomon, it also casts an unflattering cast on her and the New York Times.

Anonymous said...

I agree the picture the impression the interview leaves is quite unflattering. No wonder he doesn't think twice about his huge salary if he wanted to end up in a law firm and doesn't care about education! What an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

...oh yeah, and to respond to Geoffrey Britain: I'm not sure the NYT would agree with any leftist university administrator -- and Yudolf sure isn't one if you read these answers.