uc_color_logo.jpgUniversity of California President Mark Yudof announced Friday that he is retiring in August after five years at the helm of the school system.

Yudof, who cited health issues and the need for “fresh leadership” as reasons for his decision, said he was stepping down effective Aug. 31 and plans to teach law on the UC Berkeley campus.

“The prior 18 months brought a spate of taxing health issues,” Yudof said in a statement today. “Though these challenges have been largely overcome, I feel it is time to make a change in my professional lifestyle.”

When Yudof took his position as president in March 2008, the university and state were faced with a major budget crisis due to a declining economy. His tenure has been marked by staff and faculty furloughs, rising tuition and budget cuts.

Yudof said that while the university is not entirely in the clear, it now appears to have “weathered the storm.”

Among other improvements, voters passed Proposition 30 last November, a temporary tax increase on higher earners to fund education.

“It is important to note that we–members of the entire UC community–have made it through this rough passage with our fundamental attributes intact,” Yudof said.

Yudof, a Philadelphia native, previously served as chancellor of the University of Texas system and as president of the University of Minnesota system. Before that he was a faculty member and administrator at the University of Texas for 26 years.

Yudof’s departure drew criicism from at least one source–state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo.

“Unfortunately, under President Yudof’s leadership, students and workers unfairly suffered while top executives got wealthier,” Yee said in a statement. “To make matters worse, Yudof leaves the university with a $1 million pension that will be paid on the backs of students and taxpayers.”

Yee called for the university’s Board of Regents to make a transparent search for the new UC president with the input of students, faculty and workers, and to find a candidate who wants to “give back to the people of California” rather than demand “an extravagant salary and retirement package.”

According to university officials, Yudof earns a base annual salary of $591,084. At the time of his appointment in 2008, his salary was below the midpoint salary set for the position by the Board of Regents and below the median salary for similar positions nationwide, officials said.

Yudof has not had a salary increase since his appointment, university officials said.

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