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Originally published April 22, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Page modified April 24, 2011 at 2:46 PM

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UW chooses University of Utah's Michael Young as its new president

The University of Washington has chosen Michael Young to be its new president, according to sources familiar with the search.

Seattle Times staff reporters

Michael Young

Personal: Age 61. Divorced. Three grown children. Direct descendant of Mormon leader Brigham Young.

Education: B.A., Brigham Young University, 1973; law degree, Harvard Law School, 1976.

Career history

1978-1998: Columbia University Law School professor; during this time, Young also held several posts in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

1998-2004: Dean, George Washington University Law School; also a professor.

2004-present: President, University of Utah.

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The University of Washington has chosen Michael Young to be its new president, according to sources familiar with the search.

The sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Seattle Times on Friday that Young, 61, president at the University of Utah since 2004, is the choice of the UW Board of Regents. The regents are expected to make the announcement Monday.

UW officials have been tight-lipped about their search and their choice.

University spokesman Norm Arkans would say Friday only that an announcement would come Monday.

Board Chairman Herb Simon declined to confirm Young was the choice, but said "the university family and external community will be very happy with the name brought forth."

Young was dean of the George Washington University Law School before taking the job at Utah, and he also served 20 years on the faculty at Columbia University.

He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Harvard Law School. He also clerked for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

Under President George H.W. Bush, Young served as an ambassador for trade and environmental affairs, deputy undersecretary for economic and agricultural affairs, and deputy legal adviser to the State Department.

Young also served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1998 to 2005. He is known for his work on Japanese law and for his advocacy for international human rights, according to the University of Utah.

At the University of Utah, Young's total compensation was $723,595 for the 2009-10 school year, with a base pay of $348,403, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

If former UW President Mark Emmert had stayed there, he would have made more than $900,000, but he forfeited more than $200,000 in deferred compensation by leaving last fall before his contract was up. Emmert became president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

UW Provost Phyllis Wise has been serving as interim president. She said last summer she wasn't seeking the position permanently.

A California native, Young also is a descendant of Mormon pioneer and leader Brigham Young, and he has described himself as a "committed, active member" of the Mormon faith.

KSL-TV and the Deseret News in Salt Lake City reported Friday that in the past two weeks, UW officials had contacted several people connected to the University of Utah for reference checks on Young, citing people familiar with the matter.

Those contacted included a trustee, a prominent business leader and a former university administrator.

In an open meeting of UW trustees Monday, Simon is expected to report on the "selection of a final candidate for the position of President ... conditional on the successful negotiation of an employment contract," according to the regents' agenda.

Stewart Jay, a UW law professor, attended Harvard with Young and clerked at the Supreme Court at the same time as Young did. Young's politics may be conservative, Jay said in an email, but he doubts "that his personal views will have much effect on his presidency. He always struck me as a straight-shooter."

The University of Utah is the state's oldest and largest higher-education institution. As of last fall, it enrolled 23,000 undergraduate and 7,000 graduate students.

The UW has 43,000 students on its main Seattle campus, of which 28,000 are undergraduates. Including its branches in Tacoma and Bothell, it has 49,000 students.

Young's hiring will coincide with tough times for the UW, with big cuts expected from the Legislature, and the need to raise tuition. The university has taken heat recently for deciding to admit more out-of-state students to help raise revenue.

In making its choice for president, the university ends a search that has been going on since last summer.

The search process has been criticized for its secrecy. University officials say many job prospects refuse to be considered as candidates if they know their names are going to appear on a publicly available shortlist. The losing candidates don't want to signal to their current employer that they're looking for another job.

The UW, like many other universities around the country, repeatedly has used that argument over the years to keep the shortlist a well-guarded secret.

But not everybody buys that line of reasoning.

"Whose interests are they trying to protect here?" said associate professor of anthropology Janelle Taylor, president of the UW's chapter of American Association of University Professors. "Is it really true no good candidates would want to make themselves publicly known?"

She and other faculty members have lobbied the search committee, asking to let the faculty have informal meetings with the finalists, but the administration has declined.

For this search, one faculty member — the president of the Faculty Senate, geography professor J.W. Harrington — was made part of the search team, but he has been sworn to secrecy about the finalists.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or byoung@seattletimes.com.

Seattle Times staff reporters Andrew Garber, Craig Welch and Jack Broom and news researchers Miyoko Wolf and David Turim contributed to this report.

UW presidents
Since 1958
President Years
Charles Odegaard 1958-73
Philip Cartwright* 1973-74
John Hogness 1974-79
William Gerberding 1979-95
Richard McCormick 1995-2003
Lee Huntsman 2003-2004
Mark Emmert 2004-2010
Phyllis Wise* 2010-11

* Served as an interim president.

Source: University of Washington

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