Where are the grownups? Are they coming back?

I hate even to link to this, because it’s so embarrassing, just a national shanda. But there it is: the president of the University of California willingly trivialized by Deborah Solomon when his press is uniformly terrible and he (and we) are teetering on a cliff.

I hate even to link to this, because it’s so embarrassing, just a national shanda. But there it is: the president of the University of California  willingly trivialized by Deborah Solomon when his press is uniformly terrible and he (and we) are teetering on a cliff.

It’s not like Solomon snuck up on him: her whole schtick is to diminish interviewees with deeply silly, smirking, ignorant questions and then edit the responses to sound flip. Reasonable people sit still for something like that when they’ve just achieved something big, not when their reputation and institution are hanging by a thread and all trends are down. Does Yudof just have a completely tin ear? Rod Blagojevich would do some insouciant thing like this.  I want to think our president has better judgment than Rod Blagojevich.
Maybe someone set him up; is the UCOP flack office harboring vengeful malcontents, or is it some sort of remedial PR training program?   Are any grownups watching these people? Should we expect to see Yudof eviscerated by Letterman next, or …or…Heaven help us, don’t let Tina Fey smell this blood in the water.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

6 thoughts on “Where are the grownups? Are they coming back?”

  1. Having worked at the U of Minnesota when Yudof was president, yes his ear is that tinny. He seems to work hard at the folksy approachable image instead of the imperial one his predecessor at U of Minn. had. However, I don't think he's anywhere near as dim as that interview made him sound. For what it's worth, Yudof reportedly makes a really good pancake.

  2. I don't think he is in need of your defense. He's a big boy with a comfortable set of compensation garnered on the expectation that he'd be smart enough to defend himself from such an allegedly scurrilous attack. If he's not capable of defending himself and the UC's governance policies, maybe he's not so worthy of that compensation package he's got.

    Color me jaded. I don't give the U.C. system or it's executives much slack in this sort of thing after the years of experience I've had as a student and an employee at a U.C. campus. Personally, I'd love to see this overstuffed suit twist a little more in some uncomfortable and unflattering interviews. But in reality, I'd rather see him not waste his expensive man hours sitting through such tripe. He's got better things to be doing right now.

  3. Those were some stupid questions, but he seems to have prepped.

    She asks a stupid question:

    The word “furlough,” I recently read, comes from the Dutch word “verlof,” which means permission, as in soldiers’ getting permission to take a few days off. How has it come to be a euphemism for salary cuts?

    He replies:

    Look, I’m from West Philadelphia. My dad was an electrician. We didn’t look up stuff like this. It wasn’t part of what we did. When I was growing up we didn’t debate the finer points of what the word “furlough” meant.

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