Many Mansions

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There was a lot of discussion in the media recently about one report detailing the rising administrative costs at American colleges.

Well there are administrative costs and then there are “administrative costs.” It turns out that Mark Yudof, the otherwise exemplarily president of the University of California, racked up nearly $700,000 in personal housing expenses over two years, money billed to the university.

According to an article by Steve Fainaru in the New York Times:

The University of California has appointed an official to manage spending and operations at President Mark G. Yudof’s new private residence, after Mr. Yudof ran up… expenses and involved senior university officials in time-consuming personal matters over a rented mansion in the Oakland Hills.

“Here you literally have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have gone into student scholarships, reduction of fees — whatever — to educate more students in California,” said Leland Yee, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco…. Mr. Yudof moved into a smaller house in Lafayette last month after failing to obtain a last-minute lease extension in Oakland. His hurried exit left behind tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the house, according to the owner, who is seeking payment from the university.

This comes after the Bay Citizen discovered incredible waste by Yudof, including almost $20,000 to fix an elevator (that was still under warranty) and a $5,000 bimonthly water bill (due to an easily fixable leak).

As is common at most academic institutions, the University of California system traditionally provides a residence, Blake House, for the president to use free of charge.

Yudof and his wife, however, refused to live in the complimentary housing because the official residence of the president of the University of California “needed” repairs. While Blake House could certainly benefit from major renovations, Yudof’s predecessor, Robert Dynes, happily occupied the mansion for the entire time he served as president.

The U.C. system paid $13,365 a month for Yudof to rent the Oakland house (above). The average monthly rent in Oakland, California is $1570.

“I don’t think it was a good experience,” Yudof said of his time renting the Oakland property. “Under the circumstances, it was the best I could do.”

Apparently selecting and paying for housing himself out of his $828,000 annual compensation package was not something he felt he could do. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer