Cal State students, faculty decry pay hikes for campus presidents


The California State University Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved pay raises for several incoming campus presidents despite criticism from some students and faculty that the money would be better spent on academic programs.

The move also came as trustees heard worst-case budget scenarios — including tuition hikes, pay cuts and enrollment reductions — that could hit the system midyear.

The salary packages for four incoming and three interim executives were the first under a new policy that freezes state-funded pay but allows individual campus foundations to supplement compensation as much as 10%. Trustees voted 10 to 4 to approve the new salary deals over some impassioned pleas not to do so.

New Cal State Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison will receive $324,500, including $29,000 from the campus foundation; incoming Cal State San Bernardino President Tomas D. Morales will receive $319,000, with $29,000 coming from the campus foundation; new San Francisco State President Leslie E. Wong will receive $325,000, including $26,251 from the campus foundation. The new president of the California Maritime Academy, retired Adm. Thomas A. Cropper, will receive $250,000 with no extra foundation support.

Chancellor Charles B. Reed said that funds would be raised specifically for the salary supplements and that no foundation money would be diverted from student scholarships.

But Nakia Brazier, who will be a graduate student in sociology at Cal State Los Angeles in the fall, wasn’t swayed and called on the presidents to reject the extra compensation.

“If you believe in the promise of public higher education, do not take the pay raises,” she said, as several campus presidents and trustees looked on.

Harrison, who attended the meeting in Long Beach, said in an interview that her campus foundation had fully endorsed the supplement and argued that salaries for some Cal State presidents are not competitive with those of comparable colleges.

She cited as an example being approached by an institution outside California offering a salary of $800,000.

“I believe in the mission of CSU,” said Harrison, who served as president of the Monterey Bay campus before taking the top post at Northridge. “I have a background in social work and what we’re doing is comparable with my social values. It’s personally painful when people who don’t know me or my values act as if I don’t care about students, faculty and staff.”

Outside the meeting, students and members of the California Faculty Assn. gathered with signs that read “Presidential Perks — Misplaced Priorities.”

State funding cuts could force officials to consider several painful options.

One strategy presented to the board of trustees includes a midyear tuition increase of $150 per semester, or about 5%; a 2.5% across-the-board reduction in employee pay and benefits; and a reduction in time given to faculty for research, sabbaticals and other non-teaching activities.

Other possibilities include: additional per-unit charges for course loads above 16 units; and increasing the tuition supplement paid by non-resident students by $1,000.

A second strategy would forgo a tuition increase but reduce enrollment by about 6,000 students, eliminate 750 faculty and staff positions, and reduce pay and benefits by about 5.25% systemwide.

The recently approved state budget includes a plan — should the governor’s tax measure be enacted — that would give an additional $125 million to both Cal State and UC in the 2013-14 fiscal year, but only if the systems maintain current tuition levels.

However, Cal State trustees in November already had approved a 9% tuition hike for this fall that would raise undergraduate tuition $498 annually to $5,970, not including campus-based fees, books and housing.

Cal State’s 23 campuses have already begun collecting tuition from thousands of students. The tuition hike was projected to raise an additional $132 million during the academic year, a gap that would have to be filled some other way.

The university is working on a deal in which it would refund the tuition fees should the tax measure pass, officials said.

Trustees on Tuesday voted 12 to 2 to endorse the ballot measure. The board is expected to vote on a contingency budget at its September meeting.