Clueless: Pay raises with budget cuts
It’s clear that trustees of the 23-campus California State University system just don’t get it. Shuffling administrators from school to school and bringing in the occasional outsider, they’ve been giving new college presidents salaries far higher than what predecessors have received.
The rationale for this is that CSU had to match what other potential employers were willing to pay.
Over a period of weeks, the trustees voted to pay tens of thousands of dollars more to new presidents at five campuses than the chiefs of those schools had ever before received.
The raises were coupled with tuition increases of just under 10 percent, bringing Cal State tuition to $7,017, a 37 percent increase from the $4,440 it was in November 2010, less than two years ago.
At about the same time, state legislators granted $4.6 million worth of raises to more than 1,000 of their staffers while cutting pay to most other state workers.
The CSU trustees followed that with a four-year labor contract for professors providing them with no pay raises at all. Then CSU moved to open up graduate programs next spring, on 10 campuses, to qualified out-of-state students who pay high tuition, while keeping them closed for in-staters who pay less. Is it any wonder Californians question who the state’s higher education system now exists to serve?
To many students, it made no sense to grant large raises to college presidents at the same time new enrollments are dropping, tuition is climbing and educational opportunities for Californians are diminishing.
To the issue of what other employers might pay, some students asked the logical question: In this economy, what other employers?
The trustees’ response has been to limit raises for top administrators to no more than 10 percent a year, and to draw some funds for that from semi-independent campus foundations.
A professor at Cal Poly Pomona reacted this way to the hiring of new CS San Bernardino President Tomas Morales:
“Given his circumstances (in his old job heading the College of Staten Island, New York), it probably wasn’t necessary to raise the pay to obtain Morales’ services.”
The reader noted that just months before his new hire, Morales received a no-confidence vote from his former school’s faculty senate. The resolution said Morales “failed to follow the spirit of shared school governance and (did not) provide leadership for … a ‘Pathways to Degree Completion’ program.” The resolution was overturned on a procedural issue and Morales accepted his lucrative new job before another vote could occur.
Someone essentially ridden out of town on a rail probably doesn’t need a raise to convince him to move.
The Legislature’s decision to grant raises to pet employees, many of whom are already paid well into six figures, also seemed deaf and blind to the public mood and it probably doesn’t bode well for Proposition 30, the governor’s tax increase initiative on the fall ballot.
It also rankled public employee union leaders, most of whom have agreed to pay cuts to help preserve jobs while the state faces its seemingly perpetual budget crunch.