It's official. The University of Washington announced this morning that Michael Young will be the school's new top dog. The current University of Utah president has a glittering resume, which boasts a Harvard law degree and teaching and administrative stints at Columbia and George Washington Universities. He's also a Mormon conservative who once served as an advisor to George W. Bush, according to The Seattle Times, which broke the story of his selection.
"I have my spy," says UW meteorologist Cliff Mass, referring to a former student of his who now serves as chair of the University of Utah's atmospheric sciences department. "Young was the best president we've had so far," the chair, Jim Steenburgh, told Mass after the UW prof made inquiries.
Of particular note, Mass says, is that Young pushed the university to be more environmentally conscious. Last fall, he signed a so-called "carbon neutrality action plan," which committed the university to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
Faculty members also see Young as more deeply rooted in academics than was predecessor Mark Emmert, according to Christoph Giebel, vice-president of the UW branch of the American Association of University Professors. Whereas Emmert became an administrator early in his career, Young spent many years teaching international and environmental law before moving into an administrative track.
Giebel says the AAUP is therefore hoping that Young will have better relations with faculty than Emmert did toward the end of his UW tenure. Now the head of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Emmert angered professors last year by issuing an executive order that changed the university's salary policy, allowing the school to lower or eliminate merit pay in any given year.
Meanwhile, of course, Emmert himself was making close to a million dollars. Young's UW salary is still to be negotiated. If he wants to continue the love-in, Mass has a suggestion. "The best thing he could do is say, 'I'm going to give away one-half or one-third of [my salary] and use it for student scholarships.' "
The new prez won't need his likely astronomical salary anyway since, Mass points out, "Everything is paid for. He's got a house, a car, travel [funds]."
Indeed, at a time of huge budget cuts and tuition increases, if Young took Mass's advice, he could probably stump for Donald Trump and still be a campus hero.