CSU cuts students while raising executive pay
It’s not enough anymore to call the trustees of the California State University system insensitive. Some of their recent actions seem insensate.
How else to explain the fact that in one day this spring, the board voted to cut costs by accepting virtually no new admissions for the spring semester of next year, then quickly pivoted to give large raises to two of its campus presidents?
The almost-no-new-admissions policy is the result of a looming $750 million cut in funding from the state and will affect at least 16,000 prospective students who will have to put off earning the higher salaries that college graduates usually make, and they’ll have their careers delayed, likely earning tens of thousands of dollars less in their lifetimes.
Another $200 million could be cut from CSU if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax increase initiative fails in November. The two cuts together could bar as many as 25,000 students in the 2013-14 school year.
At the same time, the trustees approved pay packages including 10 percent raises over the levels of their predecessors for the new presidents of Cal State Fullerton and Cal State East Bay in Hayward
New East Bay president Leroy Morishita will get a base salary of $303,660 and new Fullerton chief Mildred Garcia gets $324,500, thousands more than the immediate previous presidents. Each will also get a $12,000 car allowance and a $60,000 annual housing allowance. The allowances alone are more than double California’s median, 2010 per capita income of $35,000.
The pay increases came after trustees raised tuition for this fall to $7,017, not including essentials like room, board and books.
The tuition is double what CSU cost just five years ago and represents a 21.6 percent rise from last year.
In short, the raises mean Cal State’s trustees are transferring money from students and their families to university administrators in unprecedented quantities, using the excuse that the pay increases are needed to attract and retain top talent.
The pay increases were said to be the maximum the trustees could hand out under a policy they approved in January.
The insensitivity of the trustee actions predictably drew complaints from students. “Their priorities are obviously to keep the administrators happy, not to serve the students, and we’re the reason these colleges are here,” moaned Dominguez Hills junior June Harrison.
There were also gripes from politicians. “I do think, when you are talking $250,000 to $300,000, and you also give housing and car allowances, that’s a lot given the retrenchment that we all have to face,” said Gov. Brown, whose own salary is more than $100,000 less than the new CSU presidents will make.
And yet, politicians remain unwilling to put the clamps on executive pay, and the state Senate Committee on Education voted down a bill that sought to ban raises for top administrators within two years of a student fee increase. Instead, the committee’s Democratic majority pushed through a bill guaranteeing annual 10 percent pay hikes for top executives.