Yudof’s raise affordable, deserved and necessary

University faculty are eligible for a five percent merit increase, union members’ pay will go up three percent, tuition was raised 13.8 percent and University President Mark Yudof will make 4.5 percent more next year. The president’s raise amounts to $15,000 and is the latest in a series of pay hikes bringing his salary to $350,000, or $125,000 more than it was when he arrived at the University in 1997.

And it’s money well spent.

Yudof has performed admirably for the University during some of the roughest years in the institution’s recent history. This year he managed to get a $90 million funding increase from the state government. During the six-month legislative battle, Yudof had to contend with a governor pushing only a $56 million increase, a public either ambivalent or openly hostile toward funding higher education and a Legislature unable or unwilling to pass almost anything that required debate. Minnesota’s state government is still trying to come to terms with itself, and trying to pull them together long enough to get anything passed is a frustrating endeavor. Though the $90 million was more than $100 million less than what the University had originally requested, the financial pinch would have been more acute without Yudof at the helm.

Also, though he has expressed no interest in leaving Minnesota, other schools have made offers. Right now, with the University’s financial situation, as well as that of the rest of the nation, a presidential search would be disastrous. The University’s slate of problems has almost completely turned over since Yudof took office four and a half years ago, and continuity is necessary at this crucial time. In addition, the cost of a presidential search for an institution this size would be far greater than $15,000, not to mention the millions of dollars gambled by banking on a new leader. Simply put, the University cannot afford to lose Yudof right now.

Though the arguments against giving him the raise at this time are legitimate, they are also largely philosophical. Yudof’s present salary of $335,000 is plenty to live on in Minnesota and Eastcliff presents a comfortable solution to the city’s housing crisis. Also, the Board of Regents raised his salary 1.5 percent more than they were willing to give the unions, but that bungled decision does not cancel out the merit of Yudof’s raise.

Students could also argue that the man who played a part in raising tuition by nearly 14 percent should not be given several thousand dollars for his trouble. But had Yudof not performed as well as he did in the Legislature, students would be shelling much more than the $.33-per-student to which his $15,000 raise amounts.

With increased salary comes increased expectation, but we are confident Yudof will continue earning his paycheck.