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Next University of Washington President: Utah's Michael Young

Charla Bear
Michael K. Young will soon occupy the president's office in Gerberding Hall. He's the Board of Regents' pick for the next head of UW.

It’s official. The University of Washington’s next president will be Michael K. Young. The Board of Regents says the current president of the University of Utah is the right person to lead UW at a time of shrinking state financial support.

In a unanimous vote, the regents said Young will be a leader who’ll “inspire and excite” UW during very difficult times. They not only praised his ability to raise money but also his disposition. Herb Simon, chairman of the board of regents, calls Young “congenial":

“I think that he will be well suited for our faculty here," he says. "I think the external community will really like this person’s patient demeanor, his intellect. And I’m totally convinced that our legislative leadership will embrace him.”

The relationship with lawmakers has become a priority as the university fights for funding. The legislature criticized former UW president Mark Emmert for being one of the highest paid public university presidents in the country. Emmert announced just a little less than a year ago that he was leaving to become president of the NCAA, as KPLU reported.

Young’s salary has not been determined yet. The regents still have to negotiate his contract. 

While the regents say they’re thrilled about their choice, some people question whether Young’s conservative political views and Mormon faith will mesh with the culture of UW. Simon says he has no doubt:

“This is a person who has strong beliefs in religious tolerance. He’s written many articles on religious freedom, human rights. So we don’t see this as an unusual pick whatsoever.”

If contract negotiations go smoothly, everyone will soon get to see how Young fits in at the university. His first day as UW president could be July 1st.

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.
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