The new chancellor for the California State University system, Timothy White, requested a 10 percent reduction in his salary in a letter addressing the CSU Board of Trustees Wednesday.
White, who is expected to start in January, was set to receive the same state-funded salary of $421,500 as his predecessor, Charles B. Reed. The chancellor’s compensation was amended from the agenda by the compensation committee and the board approved White’s new salary of $380,000.
Trustee Peter Mehas said though he would honor White’s request, cutting the chancellor’s salary is a mistake.
“I want to be on record that I think this is not the direction we should be going,” Mehas said. “The chancellor is sufficiently underpaid when compared to people doing this kind of work throughout the country. This is a very, very difficult job in very difficult circumstances.”
Mehas went on to praise White for putting the university system and its mission before himself and his family and said people should understand that a person’s worth should also be based on what they bring to an institution. Mehas noted that Reed ranks among the bottom for “grossly underpaid” administrative executives in the country.
This was Reed’s final meeting with the CSU system and while trustees and campus presidents provided a cheerful goodbye, students chose a different way.
“I want to say farewell fees and farewell Reed,” said CSUN student Matthew Delgado during public comment. Delgado, part of Students for Quality Education, also said that he participated in the hunger strike, which happened last semester with students participating across the university system. He then deferred his time for two other SQE students to speak.
Both students said “bye-bye Reed” and thanked White as being an example of the CSU system working with students and their needs.
Other students and CSU representatives, including CSSA and the Academic Senate, praised the board for removing the three proposed fees from the meeting.
Chair of the Academic Senate, Diana Guerin, noted that both the Senate and CSSA requested information on how many students would be affected by the potential fees from the CSU. But their requests were left unanswered and Guerin said the CSU needs to be more transparent.
Both groups also praised White for his request in a salary reduction, noting it as a positive message and said they look forward to working with him.
In his letter, White explains that his salary request is due in part because of the “cuts, salary freezes, and increased fees” the CSU system has dealt with.
“By changing the dialogue on my compensation I hope to send a clear signal to the public-at-large, elected officials, the business community, and families of current and future students,” he said. “Public higher education matters to all of us.”
The board also approved their 2013-2014 support budget, which will help balance any unmet funding for the CSU system. They are requesting $371.9 million from the state government in hopes that the funds will meet their budget needs of $441.8 million for additional student enrollment and extra classes. The total CSU budget for the 2013-2014 academic year has increased to about $4.5 million, according to a recent CSU press release on the board’s decision.