Criticism of Munitz Rehiring Mounts

Times Staff Writer

Faculty union leaders, joined by a state lawmaker, stepped up criticism Thursday of California State University’s rehiring of a controversial former chancellor of the 23-campus system.

Union officials questioned whether Cal State was, as administrators have contended, contractually obligated to provide a “trustee professor” position for Barry Munitz, who headed the CSU system from 1991 to 1998.

Munitz assumed the job last week at Cal State L.A. after requesting a return from what was characterized as a leave of absence.

The union leaders pointed to the state investigation and spending controversy involving Munitz in his role as chief executive of the nonprofit J. Paul Getty Trust, a job he quit under pressure in February.

“We’re really concerned about spending the scarce education dollars on someone that has such an ethical cloud hanging over him,” said Lillian Taiz, head of the Cal State L.A. chapter of the California Faculty Assn.


John Travis, president of the association, said the Getty controversy might give Cal State grounds for rescinding its deal with Munitz.

State Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), an Education Committee member who joined union leaders for the telephone news conference, said she was mainly concerned about the $163,776 that Munitz would be paid in his first year, close to 50% more than top salaries for other Cal State professors.

Cal State leaders “are using public money and playing with it like it is Monopoly money,” Speier said.

Cal State officials have said that, at the beginning of his second year, Munitz’s pay will revert to the top-level faculty salary, which is now $112,548 for a 12-month work year.

A spokeswoman for the university system, Claudia Keith, said CSU was legally obligated to let Munitz return.

Murray L. Galinson, chairman of the Cal State Board of Trustees, said union officials were making “irresponsible” comments and had failed to investigate the situation.

Galinson also scoffed at the idea that Cal State could rescind its deal with Munitz.

“Not only was he not convicted of a crime, he wasn’t even charged with a crime,” he said. “The last I heard, in this country one was presumed innocent until proven guilty.”