In a prelude to what many expect to be a controversial action, a committee of California State University trustees approved a resolution Tuesday aimed at significantly boosting the salaries of campus presidents to stay competitive with similar institutions around the country.
Chancellor Barry Munitz told trustees “there’s never a good time” to talk about the pay raises--especially during a recession and in an era of stiff student fee increases--but he pressed the issue because of recent president defections and the growing difficulty of recruiting top administrators.
“We are falling further and further behind,” Munitz said, adding that salaries are so “pushed down at the presidential level, we are not only losing presidential candidates but vice presidential and dean candidates.”
To buttress his case, Munitz presented a salary survey that showed Cal State campus presidents were being paid nearly 21% less than the average salary of counterparts at 16 comparable university systems in Texas, Wisconsin, New York, Colorado, Arizona and other states. Cal State presidents average $120,075 a year, compared to $145,000 at the other institutions.
The salary survey also included a comparison to chancellors at the nine UC campuses, but Munitz made it a point not to focus on the higher $167,675 average base pay in Tuesday’s discussions.
Munitz told trustees he wants to move quickly to boost presidential housing allowances, which range from what he called a “ridiculous” $3,600 a year at Bakersfield to $26,400 at Northridge. Five Cal State campuses provide housing. Munitz wants to increase the base allowance to $12,000 to $21,600 a year.
The subject of administrative pay is a sore one at Cal State. Munitz’s predecessor, W. Ann Reynolds, was ousted as chancellor in 1990 after she engineered 21% to 43% pay raises for herself and other top administrators in closed session, angering faculty and legislators.
Although the scandal was not specifically mentioned, its memory leavened Tuesday’s discussion. “It’s been a no-no to discuss this issue almost from the day I got on this board,” said Chairman Anthony M. Vitti, who was appointed in 1989, “but it’s an issue that cannot be put off any longer.”
The board’s concern about the presidential salaries drew cautious support from a faculty representative, who asked that the salaries of other Cal State employees not be overlooked. It drew a less favorable review from William Moton, chairman of the California State Students Assn. and a student at Cal State Bakersfield.
Noting that students have faced tuition increases of 20%, 40% and 10% in the last three years, Moton said: “If we’re tightening our belts, everyone should tighten their belts.”
But Trustee Ted J. Saenger said of the salaries: “These are large numbers. People will say: ‘Goodness sake, anyone who makes over $100,000 should be able to do OK. . . .’ But the moving vans are going East.”
Indeed, Munitz and university officials used recent defections to make their case. John Moore resigned as Cal State Stanislaus president in May, 1992, to take over Indiana State University. In March, Long Beach State President Curtis McCray left the 30,000-student campus for Milliken University, a much smaller college in Decatur, Ill.
They also said low pay has hampered recruiting efforts, scaring away out-of-state finalists at San Jose State and Sonoma.
In setting executive pay, the resolution passed Tuesday says Cal State will give primary consideration to the median salary paid at 20 comparable schools--a list that includes such private universities as USC and Loyola University in Chicago, and public schools such as Arizona State University, Wayne State University in Detroit and Rutgers in New Jersey.
The measure also says that California real estate sales reports will be used to compute presidential housing allowances. The resolution is expected to be approved by the full board today.
Munitz said he will frame specific requests for more generous allowances and raises by November, when trustees will consider the 1994 budget. Although he wants to institute the housing allowances immediately upon trustees’ approval, Munitz said he may recommend waiting until next year to put the raises through.