Professor conducts independent financial analysis of CSUN

Accounting professor from Eastern Michigan Univiersity, Howard Bunsis, explains restricted and unrestricted funds in the CSU budget. Bunsis explained that the CSU is not broke as it claims to be, but is actually making a profit. Photo credit: Ken Scarboro / Editor in chief
Accounting professor from Eastern Michigan Univiersity, Howard Bunsis, explains restricted and unrestricted funds in the CSU budget. Bunsis explained that the CSU is not broke as it claims to be, but is actually making a profit. Photo credit: Ken Scarboro / Editor in chief

CSUN’s army of administrators and insufficient funding for instructors are to blame for cuts in class sections, student admission and faculty instructors, said Dr. Howard Bunsis during his Thursday lecture in Sierra Hall.

Bunsis, an accounting professor at Eastern Michigan University, examined CSUN’s financial records, as well as the CSU system, and determined that both institutions are in “strong financial condition.”

He was invited as an independent financial analyst by the California Faculty Association (CFA) to properly inform the students about the financial health of the university in order for them to participate in discussions, said Amy Denissen, associate professor and chair of the membership committee for the CFA’s Northridge chapter.

CSUN Financial Analysis

According to Bunsis, the only problem is the excessive amount of administrators who have nothing to do with the teaching profession. Instruction funding accounts for a third of the CSUN budget and was the only department to receive significant cuts, while institutional support and other administrative categories remained the same.

“I’m speechless,” said Grace Castillo, 20, a sophomore majoring in psychology, when she saw administrators’ salaries displayed on powerpoint.

Decreasing the number of administrators, their salaries and using CSUN’s $171 million in unrestricted net assets (CSUN’s emergency fund) would be effective strategies to revive investing in instruction, Castillo said.

Bunsis predicted a difficult 2012-2013 year for CSUN if change is not implemented

The surplus of administrators is not the only problem, Bunsis said. Misplaced priorities on the CSU level are also the cause of increase in tuition and class size.

Bunsis said the state legislature has not supported public higher education in California and is no longer considered a public good.

The CSU has undergone a shift in where it gets it money from. In 2006, 55 percent of the total money came from the state and 22 percent from students. In 2011, the CSU received less than half its money from the state and instead shifted onto the students. Last year, student tuition accounted for 29 percent of the total money, according to Bunsis.

“It didn’t surprise me that (CSU) would be telling something completely different from the reality,” said Jorge Moraga, 24, a senior majoring in history and Central American studies, about the system’s claim to have no money.

Moraga was shocked at the system’s surplus of administrators and its $2 billion cushion in reserves.

“It’s really about individual priorities. You tell this new president or Chancellor Reed ‘can you not get paid this much?’ but it’s in their interest to maintain that salary,” he said.


In order to stop to the divesting of instruction “every campus must undertake what we call a zero-based budget analysis, justify the existence, budget and salary of every upper level administrator,” Bunsis said.

Cutting classes is not the right approach, cutting administrators is — cutting those who do not enhance student learning don’t deserve to be paid nearly as much, he said.

“It makes you feel numb, overall, about how the whole budget system works. I’m fortunate enough to have escaped here with about $10,000 in debt, but it’s still very gruesome for those who still believe the CSU is affordable and accessible for all students,” Moraga said.

  • David the small-L libertarian

    Conservatives have been making similar arguments about government and K-12 and higher education for years.  Yet students like Grace Castillo are “speechless” when Bunsis says it.

  • Michael Bryson

    CSUN, like the other CSUs, is increasingly being run on a Bain Consulting-style corporate model. That is why the instructional budget is being cut while administrators are paid six-figure salaries, which in some cases exceed 300,000 and 400,000 dollars per year. Students should be aware that a very large portion of their classes are being taught by instructors who make less than 10% of the figure just mentioned. Even senior tenured professors are being paid about 25% of that figure. And yet, despite what we constantly hear about a budget crisis, there is money for increasingly generous administrative salaries and benefits packages (media reports of housing and car allowances for campus presidents have been frequent in recent weeks–mid six-figure salaries are, apparently, not enough to cover such expenses without extra assistance, as I am sure most students, staff, and faculty at CSUN will understand).

    Student tuition has been raised dramatically for each of the last few years. Faculty and staff have not had a raise in that same period of time. Course enrollments caps have been raised, and course offerings slashed. Where has that extra tuition money been going?

    Not to the instructional budget. Not to the faculty or staff. It has been going to an increasing number of six-figure salaried executive positions that have little or nothing to do with the basic instructional mission of the university. Welcome to the Corporate University, where money flows uphill.