University of Washington Regents pick new leader

By Donna Gordon Blankinship

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 25 2011 5:45 p.m. MDT

Students walk between classes, Monday, April 25, 2011, on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. The UW Regents voted Monday to hire Michael Young, currently president of the University of Utah, as the new president of the University of Washington.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

SEATTLE — University of Utah President Michael Young said Monday that he was thrilled to be asked to lead the University of Washington.

Young said that UW has "all the pieces in place to be a leader in what the future is going to look like."

The 61-year-old Young has been president of the University of Utah since 2004. He was selected by the UW Board of Regents to replace previous president Mark Emmert, who left Washington in September to take a job as president of the NCAA.

"We have selected one of the most outstanding university administrators in the country," said Costco CEO Jeff Brotman, who is a member of the UW regents.

Young said the details of his contract were still being negotiated but he expected to start his new job sometime this summer.

Emmert was UW president for about six years. He was the country's second-highest-paid public university president, behind E. Gordon Gee, of Ohio State University. If Emmert had stayed at UW, he would have made more than $900,000 this year. Young's total compensation at Utah was $723,595.

Young said his first job at Washington will involve dealing with the university budget and declining state support for higher education. He said longer term goals include focusing on keeping the university on "the extraordinary trajectory it's on," expanding research, enhancing learning, doing more international work and translating research into the lives of real people.

Brotman added that Young has done a great job of balancing the diverse interests in Utah.

"He does not have what I call 'big shot-itis' even though he is a big shot," Brotman said.

"Running the University of Utah is, I expect, like standing on a razor blade. He did a masterful job of navigating very dangerous waters down there," he said, adding that he thinks the political climate in Washington will be easier to navigate.

Student Regent Frances J. Youn, a UW graduate student, agreed.

Youn did not get to vote on Young, but served on the search committee and talked to Utah students during the process.

"There was a real authentic affection for him," Youn said. Utah students told her Young understands the importance of making sure students feel they have a unique experience in college and they appreciated his open-door policy.

During Young's tenure at Utah, the university's annual budget grew from $1.6 billion to $2.6 billion. Also, the university joined the Pac-12 athletic conference. And a Utah professor was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize.

The University of Utah leads the nation in spinoff companies generated from campus research, totaling 102 over the past five years. Private donations to the university grew from $130 million to $165 million a year during his tenure.

Before his job in Utah, Young — a direct descendant of Brigham Young — was dean of the George Washington University Law School as well as a law professor. He also served 20 years on the faculty at Columbia University and served in the administration of the first President Bush.

UW Professor James W. Harrington, who is chair of the Faculty Senate, said Young's academic credentials will please the university faculty and he expects they will learn to appreciate his collaborative approach to solving problems.

Sally Jewell, CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc., and a member of the board and the search committee said Young stood out from among an exceptional pool of top candidates.

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