Despite Load Protests, Regents Approve New CSU Salaries

By City News Service

The California State University Board of Trustees Tuesday approved salary packages for the presidents of seven campuses, including Cal State Northridge, with some of the executives receiving higher salaries under a new policy allowing private foundations to supplement their pay.

The move has drawn the ire of campus groups and the California Faculty Association, which blasted the university for providing pay hikes at a time of deep budget cuts and rising tuition.

“It is ridiculous that every two months students and faculty have to come to Long Beach and ask the system’s leaders not to give themselves a raise at the expense of quality higher education,” said Kim Geron, vice president of the California Faculty Association. “The trustees and administration seem absolutely tone deaf.”

University officials insisted that offering competitive salaries is key to attracting quality administrators. They also noted that the salary increases are not being funded by the university or taxpayers, but by private foundations.

The Board of Trustees approved a policy in May that freezes the salaries of new campus presidents at the level of their predecessors. The policy, however, allows private foundations to voluntarily contribute funds to supplement salaries, up to 10 percent of the base pay.

Of the seven presidential salaries approved by the board, three will receive supplemental pay from private foundations:

—new Cal State Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison will receive a base annual salary of $295,000, plus $29,500 being provided by a private foundation;
—incoming Cal State San Bernardino President Tomas D. Morales will receive $290,000 a year, plus $29,000 in private foundation funds; and
—incoming San Francisco State University President Leslie E. Wong will receive $298,749 a year, plus a foundation supplement of $26,251.

The board also approved salary packages for Cal Maritime President Adm. Thomas Cropper, Cal State Dominguez Hills Interim President Willie J. Hagan, Cal State Stanislaus Interim President Joseph F. Sheley and Cal State Monterey Bay Interim President Eduardo M. Ochoa, but none of them are receiving foundation salary boosts.

Critics said the vote was particularly egregious, since it was cast at the same meeting at which the board reviewed potentially drastic budget cuts that could be triggered if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax-hike measures are defeated by voters in November.

Brown will ask voters in November to approve a bump in the state’s 7.25 percent sales tax rate to 7.5 percent, and to increase the income tax rate on people earning more than $250,000 a year.

The governor said in May that if the proposals fail, the state will have to make another $6 billion in cuts effective Jan. 1—with many of them affecting education.

CSU officials said the failure of the measures would trigger another $250 million in cuts to the university system. Among the steps being considered by CSU to make up that funding is a $150-per-semester tuition hike, salary reductions, increases in employee contributions to benefit costs or enrollment reduction.

“These are all difficult challenges and choices that the CSU must consider to address our severe budget situation,” said Robert Turnage, assistant CSU vice chancellor for the budget.

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July 19, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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