University of Washington President Michael K. Young spoke last month about various aspects of running the university, which is the Puget...
University of Washington President Michael K. Young spoke last month about various aspects of running the university, which is the Puget Sound area’s third-largest employer and receives more federal research dollars than any other public school in the country.
On the job
“Someone once described to me a president’s job as kind of like an orchestra conductor — you have all these great players there, and you get them playing on the same sheet of music, and you try to get a little more from the oboe section, and you try to get the strings a little quieter. I … think that’s nonsense. What you really do is hire the best musicians you possibly can, in every field imaginable — whether they’re playing jazz, or classical, or hip-hop — and you tell them, ‘Play whatever you want, play as well as you can, and as loud as you can, and play like crazy.’ And then you turn to the audience and ask them for money.”
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“Everybody says nobody’s had raises, which is nonsense. I think we are almost certainly the only major research university in the United States that has gone four years without raises.”
“Here’s what people need to understand: 80 percent of our undergraduates are in-state, and have been for a very long time. To the extent we have more international students, those international students are replacing out-of-state domestic students — they’re not replacing in-state students. If … the freshman class looked like the Garfield High School graduating class, why would anyone come here? Our whole goal is to open up the world to these kids in a powerful way.”
“The problem historically with universities is that if you do good, but it remains entirely locked up within the university, you haven’t done as much good as you could. The simple example is if you cure cancer, but it stays in a test tube, nobody gets better. The … only way really to effectively get these things into the lives of real people is the commercialization process. If we make a few bucks on the side, great. But the moment we start thinking about doing it for money, we’re going to screw it up.”
On the state’s sales-tax-dependent tax system
“We have among the world’s stupidest revenue systems here in this state. It would be nice if people finally woke up and said, ‘This is not the kind of state we really want … so we’re going to rethink this.’ I’m not holding my breath.”