I haven't been a fan of college Presidents in some time now.
It's rumored that Charles Young was the President of UF from 1999-2003 but honestly nobody I know ever saw him so really we can only take his word for it. Dr. Young, who is now the CEO of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, was here last night at the UF Harn Museum of Art to talk about two things high on everyone's list of exciting topics---art and college sports.
He complained about the skyrocketing coaches salaries and how the Athletic Associations spending is out of control. He talked about how in times of financial crisis, the athletic association's answer is to raise revenue. Funny--I don't hear anyone at UF complaining about the ticket prices to UF sporting events. And despite the recession, it seems that UF sports continue to pack the house. Hmm....the people are going to pay because they think it's worth it. When they stop paying and there's an empty stadium then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate spending. Until then I say they should just go for it.
Dr. Young also talked about his experience as CEO of the LA Museum.
I can't tell you how that fascinates me.
If I seem sarcastic it's because I'm not altogether impressed at the leadership at UF in the past 10 years. While Dr. Young was President of UF, most think it was in name only because most people I talked to believed while he was earning a pretty decent salary from UF, his heart was in California. We never felt he was really a part of the institution. And of course nobody I know now thinks the current president is a real part of this institution. I'm hard pressed to find anyone who can name any significant positive contributions or fond memories related to that office, in the last ten years, but that's for another day.
In this one humble person's opinion, the last great President was Dr. John Lombardi, whose resignation shocked so many of us who felt we were a part of Dr. Lombardi's extended family. We felt that way because he made us feel that way. I'm still confused all these years later as to why Dr. Lombardi left. While there were a few ridiculous excuses given by those on the outside, everything seemed to come to a head after Dr. Lombardi's "Oreo" comment. But nobody I know thought that was enough to force him out. Given everything UF accomplished under the leadership of Dr. Lombardi, and oh there was so much, it seemed assinine for the Board of Regents to push him out but they did. And things haven't been the same since.
UF hasn't been the same without the friendly gray-haired man who, on nice mornings, would walk to campus and take the time to stop and talk to the employees hard at work, whom he met along the way. We still miss that old red pickup truck driving around campus with the arm sticking out of it, waving wildly at everyone he passed along the way...