OAKLAND — The new University of California president says he's a pancake aficionado, but Mark Yudof likely will be stirring up more than batter when he arrives next month.
Yudof, 63, will come to UC's Oakland headquarters as the chief executive of a 10-campus system in turmoil. Budget cuts have sliced deeply into academic departments and could result in widespread layoffs in the system's headquarters.
Yudof has mentioned his intention to shake things up in California. His primary mission will be halting the slow, steady erosion of UC's budget, and he says he has ideas on how, and how not, to do that.
"You have to raise more revenue streams, but fees and tuition should be last on the list," Yudof said in a phone interview. "You have to be very, very sensitive to make sure you don't price yourself out of students."
A Philadelphia-born attorney and apparently the first lawyer to preside over UC, Yudof led the University of Texas system for nearly six years.
But it's likely he has never experienced anything like the political minefield of the UC presidency. His predecessor, Robert Dynes, resigned after a tumultuous four-and-a-half years during which he was buffeted by criticism.
Compared with Texas, where administrators, by and large, run the show, California places significant responsibility on its professors, said former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl.
Texas educators and administrators have noted Yudof's ability to work with lawmakers, faculty and administrators.
Yudof said he is committed to the public-university philosophy of educating the masses, but with public funding dwindling, it's time to take a much more serious look at private money.
A major part of Yudof's plan for UC is streamlining, but a significantly increased endowment is a necessity, he said.
"The salaries ought to be competitive," Yudof said. "There's a national and international market. If you want a molecular biologist, you'd better pay them what a molecular biologist makes or else they'll go to Johns Hopkins."
With a total annual compensation of more than $900,000, Yudof will be the highest-paid public-university leader in the country.
Several at UC have said the time seems right to bring in an outsider like Yudof.
"People have high, high, high expectations of the University of California," said UC Santa Barbara professor Michael Brown, chairman of the systemwide Academic Senate.
"The past few years have been a great disappointment to a great many people. But we're ready to turn the page."