Yudof: U restoring reputation

by Liz Kohman

Despite a slumping economy, University President Mark Yudof, during his annual state of the University address Thursday, presented the image of a stable institution in a position for growth.

“Our long-term trajectory is onward and upward,” Yudof said to an audience of faculty, staff and students on all coordinate campuses.

“We’ve begun to restore our reputation as a national leader,” he said.

Yudof said increased enrollment and quality of students, improvements to the four- and five-year graduation rates, better and more efficient student services and students taking heavier class loads are indicators the University is headed in the right direction.

An increase in the number of master’s degrees awarded and more funds brought into the University through faculty research and technology transfer activity also showed the University is running efficiently, Yudof said.

“I like what I hear about the progress that was made and continues to be made,” said Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk.

Schunk said she can’t predict what the Legislature will do next session, but she said she can work with the University and help legislators understand the importance of the University’s capital request.

“We are now a smaller slice of the state’s budget,” Yudof said. “And that’s the case in most states.”

He said students will pay a larger share of their education, and the University will be more dependant on private support due to trends of nationwide higher-education funding decreases.

Ryan Osero, a junior chemical engineering major, said he would have liked to hear about what the University will do differently to avoid future tuition increases.

“He presented an accurate picture of all the good things,” Osero said.

When an audience member asked what the University should expect from the next legislative session, Yudof said he couldn’t predict, but worried a faltering economy might negatively affect the University’s funding request.

Yudof also mentioned issues the University needs to address, such as improving graduation rates and faculty salaries.

The gap between the salaries of public and private college professors has increased over the past 30 years.

“Ultimately it is the people – our talented faculty – that make the institution work,” Yudof said.

Marlene Stum, an associate professor in the family social science department, said University salaries must keep up with both public and private institutions to be competitive.

Yudof said the University’s ability to improve without a large increase in faculty members or state funding is proof of the University’s efficiency.

“We’re doing more with the same resources,” he said.

Many audience members said Yudof’s presentation did not surprise them.

“I didn’t hear anything dramatically new,” said Karen Lilley, an associate professor with the Extension Service.

But Yudof said the public still sees the University as it was 10 or 15 years ago.

“The popular perception has yet to catch up with the state of the University,” Yudof said.

“Students vote with dollars, donors vote with dollars and the (National Institutes of Health) votes with dollars,” Yudof said. “That to me is accountability.”

 

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected]