Mark Yudof should level with the people of California, so they understand that only public funding can restore the University of California's tradition of top quality and wide access.
In 2004, UC President Robert Dynes and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger abandoned the idea of a public university in favor of a privatized model. Dynes accepted a $1.5-billion permanent cut in the university's annual $5-billion core operating budget, and agreed to substantially increase tuition every year, in exchange for a promise (now broken) of modest increases in state money while UC sought private money "to support basic programs."
The fee increases don't come close to making up $1.5 billion a year. And although UC has inefficiencies, getting rid of them won't make up the deficit either. Neither will donations or corporate partnerships, which mostly are earmarked for projects, not core costs. (In fact, such "largesse" actually increases core costs.)
The only realistic way to replace public support with private money would be to double the already doubled fees, to $15,000 to $18,000. Alternatively, the university could abandon the equivalent of three campuses.
If the public really understood this situation, the political heat would force Schwarzenegger to restore California's promise of a high-quality, affordable university education.
The test for Yudof is whether he'll have the courage to recognize that California is at a crossroads, stop covering for the governor and tell the truth about privatization.