University of California Names Jewish President

By Rebecca Spence

Published April 02, 2008, issue of April 11, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In the same month that the debate over Israel-bashing at a California state university reached a fever pitch, the Board of Regents of the University of California announced the appointment of the second Jewish president in the system’s history.

On March 27, Mark Yudof was unanimously elected by the California Board of Regents to serve as the UC system’s 19th president. Yudof, who currently helms the University of Texas system and is active in Jewish causes, will take over the massive 15-campus system at some point this summer.

Yudof’s wife, Judy Yudof, is the past international president of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Conservative movement’s congregational arm. In 1993, the Yudofs were jointly presented the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award.

The appointment of Yudof, 63, comes as tensions over Israel-bashing at the University of California, Irvine continue to flare. Jewish students at UC Irvine, an institution long considered a hotbed of pro-Palestinian activism, have reported being harassed and physically threatened. In 2004, the Zionist Organization of America filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, charging a pattern of campus antisemitism. In November 2007, the department of education dismissed those claims, saying they were unsupported.

In recent years, Jewish groups have chided UC Irvine’s chancellor, Michael Drake, for failing to adequately condemn anti-Israel activity on his campus. Tensions over Drake’s inaction came to a head at a recent Hillel summit, where Drake was invited to speak. In advance of the March summit held for three days in Washington, 41 Jewish students sent a letter to Hillel’s president, Wayne Firestone, sharply criticizing the decision to invite Drake. Firestone defended the decision, saying that it was more constructive to engage the chancellor in dialogue.

On the heels of the Hillel summit, five Jewish students at UC Irvine issued a statement contending that reports of a hostile, antisemitic climate there have been exaggerated. In response, 20 Jewish students issued a counter press release refuting the five students’ claim and condemning Drake’s inaction. “We are deeply disappointed that Chancellor Drake continues to refuse to condemn ongoing hate-filled programs and speeches on campus that demonize Israel and Jews,” the release said.

Yudof did not respond to questions from the Forward regarding how, or if, he plans to tackle the thorny issue.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.