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CSU criticized for campus presidents raises before they start the job

Students gathered for a
Students gathered for a "Stand up for public higher education" rally at Cal State LA to protest tuition hikes on March 1, 2012. Similar protests have been planned for today's CSU Board meeting in Long Beach.
Vanessa Romo/KPCC

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California State Universities Board of Trustees is meeting in Long Beach today, to discuss issues that will impact CSU's future. On the agenda: Pay hikes, budget alternatives and two-tier tuition pricing. The goal of the meeting is to set up a plan in the event that Governor Brown’s tax increase is not passed on the November ballot.

“This is sort of the final stage of discussion today, seeing what the trade-offs are. But in September we’ll come back with a plan that we would like them [Board of Trustees] to endorse in advance of the election. That way everyone concerned in the University and public knows where we’re going under one scenario or the other,” said Robert Turnage, Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget, California State Universities.

There are two plans up for review. One would see a 5-percent tuition hike, a 2.5-percent reduction in employee pay and benefits as well as a 9-percent increase in international and out of state tuition.

The second plan would cut the enrollment by 1.5 percent, which would lead to the layoff of approximately 750 employees and a 5.25-percent reduction in employee salary and benefits.

Protests by teachers and students are going on during the meeting in large part due to the compensation package for three incoming campus presidents. Each will receive raises ranging from $26,000 to $29,000 above the income of their predecessors which many say is poor symbolism for a struggling system.

“Folks are here to express their displeasure on the issue of executive compensation and some of the changes being proposed to extended education,” said Susan Green, Statewide Treasurer, California Faculty Association.

Members of the California Faculty Association are upset the Board of Trustees would consider approving more than $84,000 in raises, at the same time as discussing budget cuts.

Turnage says he understands the concern but that CSU needs to attract quality leadership by staying competitive with salaries.

“You don’t run a university either in the short run or the long run on symbolism. So again I understand why people pay attention to symbols but the bottom line is that those of us who are entrusted with the university long term have to be thinking about the quality of the institutions long term,” Turnage said.

Should incoming college presidents be paid more than their predecessors? Is this just part of a competitive jobs market, and the best candidates deserve to be financially compensated? Would you expect the incoming presidents to refuse the pay raise until they have proven themselves in the job? Or should the money be ploughed back into the system to help students with tuition or to offer faculty a pay increase?


Robert Turnage, Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget, California State Universities

Susan Green, Statewide Treasurer, California Faculty Association