Yudof debuts radio show to connect with U, staff, citizens

Over the airwaves, University President Mark Yudof jokingly exchanged verbal jabs with his wife Judy on Tuesday during a dinner-table-like discussion on their debut radio show “Beyond the ‘U.'”

Yudof agreed to host the WCCO program to connect with the community the University serves and also give students, staff and citizens insight into the man running Minnesota’s largest land grant institution.

Yudof said he hopes the WCCO program will open communication lines with “those who pay the bills.”

“The show is a listening strategy, it’s not just talking,” he said.

From Texas to the
Twin Cities

Yudof was one of three candidates running for University president in 1996.

Then-executive vice president for the University of Texas-Austin, Yudof was up against Portland State University President Judith Ramaley and William Muse, president of Auburn University in Alabama.

Yudof received the presidency when the other candidates accepted better offers.

The Board of Regents refused to hold public interviews with candidates – as it had for the past two presidencies – and when Ramaley and Muse dropped out, the board did not look for other candidates.

The Minnesota Student Association unofficially endorsed Ramaley because it felt she would be the most open with students and promote community involvement. Ramaley received 45 votes from the organization, Muse got seven and Yudof came in last with three.

Four years later, some see the radio show as Yudof’s chance to show a more personal side.

“It’s a very human way to communicate with the state,” said Ann Pflaum, a University historian.

Pflaum said using WCCO Radio as a medium is the best way to hit a core Minnesota audience.

“WCCO is as Minnesotan as Pronto Pups at the fair,” she said.

Judy Yudof talked early in the show about her volunteer work and upcoming position as the president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The couple also raised the topic of Sept. 11 attacks and shared stories about how the tragedy affected their family.

Judy Yudof was with their daughter in New York on Sept. 11.

The two women were unaware of the attacks until Yudof’s daughter received a call from her boyfriend in Texas checking to see if she was all right.

“My immediate reaction was horror and numbness. It was unbelievable that it could happen,” Judy Yudof said.

A caller later in the show commended Yudof for his decision to cancel classes Sept. 11 in the wake of the attacks.

“I felt that when great calamities hit, you have to call timeout,” Yudof said.

He also said issues facing students’ parents like lower wages and unemployment could hinder their ability to pay for the cost of education. “It’s hard to predict in the long run.”


Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]