The people need not worry. We are not competitive and probably will never be competitive with either private industry or private universities of comparable stature. And we are low by major public university standards.... But I don't expect [chancellors] to work for the same salaries you pay an executive assistant.... One of the things that keeps a university great is being competitive for very good people.
You've faced a lot of student protest issues, like the Occupy movement, the pepper-spraying at UC Davis, the Muslim student protesters at UC Irvine. What's your position on their role in the university?
I am a 1st Amendment teacher. I'm not going to criticize people for saying things with which I disagree. But I have to say I've been the head of two other universities and I never had a board meeting closed down by protesters until I came to the University of California. California has a more robust 1st Amendment tradition and that's fine. I'm in favor and deeply passionate about protecting free speech. But public bodies should be able to meet.
What's been your biggest regret at UC?
I've always wanted a multi-year plan and some stability for [state] funding. We seem to lurch from crisis to crisis and that's a frustration. More stability would have been very helpful, and I think we may be getting it with Proposition 30.