SEATTLE — Incoming University of Washington President Michael Young said Wednesday he'd be willing to take less money than his predecessor, Mark Emmert, but he also noted his new job is complex and challenging.
Young said being UW president is equivalent to being mayor of a small city, CEO of a large medical system and in charge of more coaches and athletes than the Seattle Mariners — all at the same time.
"There is a little bit of demand to these jobs, and they kind of tend to wear you out. So in the end, you're never fit for anything after you do one of these, so you kind of hope you have a little money left for retirement," the current University of Utah president said. "And there is a market out there that also is relevant."
The UW Board of Regents named Young, 61, president Monday to succeed Emmert who left Seattle in September to take a job as president of the NCAA.
If Emmert had stayed at UW, he would have made more than $900,000 this year. Young's total compensation at the University of Utah was nearly $724,000. 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.
At a news conference, Young called the presidency of the University of Washington "the most exciting challenge in higher education."
He said his son gave one of the best explanations for why he was leaving the University of Utah, even though he loved Utah and had yet to tire of that job.
"My son describes my career as never being happy unless I'm kind of walking across the tightrope over the Grand Canyon," Young said.
He said he expected his goals at UW would evolve as he learns more about the university and the political, educational and economic climate. Some broad areas he expects to think about include how to get enough money to keep the university running at the same quality level.
Young expressed enthusiasm for pushing UW toward more commercialization of faculty-generated ideas, both to get their discoveries into the world to help improve people's lives and to bring more money to the university. Technology transfer is one of the accomplishments he is known for at the University of Utah.
The University of Utah leads the nation in spinoff companies generated from campus research, totaling 102 over the past five years.
Young said he has a few personal connections to Seattle and the University of Washington. When he was a kid he attended the Seattle World's Fair with his family, ate a meal at the top of the Space Needle and rode the monorail. On that same trip, he went hiking on the Olympic Peninsula.
Since then the former law professor has returned to Seattle several times over the years to attend law conferences.
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.