Mark Yudof: A Career Teaching Law, Pursuing Equity in Education, and Leading Public Universities

Photo of Judy Yudof, Mark Yudof, and Paul Burnett
Judy Yudof, Mark Yudof, and Paul Burnett, Morrison Library, September 12, 2018
Mark Yudof Oral History Presentation

On September 12, 2018, the Oral History Center celebrated the release of our oral history with UC President Emeritus Mark Yudof at the Morrison Library. In the best oral histories, we come to understand a lot more about what shapes people, and how those people in turn engage with the world and have an influence, modest or grand, on institutions, policies, bodies of knowledge and practice, and people.

Professor Yudof is both very candid and extremely wide-ranging in these interview sessions, which were conducted between 2014 and 2016. There is food for thought in these sessions about class, race, culture, ethnicity, faith, opportunity, exclusion, belonging, fateful decisions, philosophy and poetry, altogether forming a branching life path that informed his purpose and choices.

There is also much discussion of legal issues to do with education reform, for which he has long been an advocate, of his leadership of two large public university systems in Minnesota and Texas, and of his time as president of the University of California between 2008 and 2013. These were catalytic years in the history of the system, and Yudof’s recollections form an important part of the documentary record.

It was a real challenge to try to capture in a brief video reel what is in this oral history. But something interesting often follows Mark Yudof’s use of the phrase “by the way.” “By the way” in his usage seems to be the fulcrum of a careful thinker. So this phrase became a guidepost for the editing of this clip. If you disagree with the importance of “by the way,” then at the very least this device serves as a way to sample such a broad and deep set of subjects.

Read Mark Yudof’s complete oral history here.

–Paul Burnett, September 19th, 2018