MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Mark Yudof ended his five-year tenure as president of the University of Minnesota Friday, saying goodbye to staff and recounting successes and challenges in news interviews.
Yudof, who spent 26 years as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Texas before coming to Minnesota, is returning to become chancellor of the Texas system.
During his tenure, the University of Minnesota spent $1 billion on construction projects, chiefly on the Twin Cities campus. He focused on improving undergraduate programs, particularly on the Twin Cities campus, which became less of a commuter institution. Undergraduate graduation rates improved.
Yudof also presided over most of a six-year campaign to raise $1.3 billion for scholarships, endowments for professorships, libraries and other campus projects. The campaign passed its goal this spring, a year earlier than originally planned.
In an interview on Minnesota Public Radio, Yudof said he'd tell his successor the worst thing the president of the university can be is arrogant.
Yudof established a rapport with Minnesotans by hosting pancake feasts, visiting alumni and civic groups around the state and appearing frequently on radio and TV.
"The thing that really brought the staff, faculty and students together was embarrassing me," Yudof said. "I remember releasing a walleye, which I named after the governor (Arne Carlson). And I remember patting a llama, and walking a cow, and almost killing myself driving a John Deere. There were a lot of really fun moments like that."
Also in the interview on MPR, Yudof restated an observation he's made in recent weeks about the introspection of Minnesotans, which he believes too quickly leads the state's residents to think they're different from people in other places.
He cited the uproar this spring when Brenda Oldfield left after one season as the university's women's basketball coach. "For some people, it seemed like that it just occurred to them there are markets for coaches and that coaches don't stay as long as they used to," Yudof said. "But this is not a Minnesota phenomenon."
He added, "It's fine to be introspective and it's fine (to focus on) self-improvement, but I think sometimes we take ourselves a tad too seriously on these things."
Robert Bruininks, university executive vice president and provost, will be interim president while regents look for a successor.
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