Professors set to receive $3 million in missed pay

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Back-pay checks that total $3 million are now being dispersed to approximately 300 CSUN faculty members who taught during three summer sessions but were not paid correctly after the university’s transition to Year-Round Operations began.

“Checks dispersal is going on now,” said Harry Hellenbrand, CSUN provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. As to when teachers can expect to get their checks, he said it really depends on what CSU campus a professor teaches at.

The $3 million sum will cover improper faculty pay for the summers of 2001, 2002 and 2003. Agreements over Summer 2004 and Summer 2005 terms are still up in the air, Hellenbrand said. The back pay is a CSU system-wide issue, with CSUN faculty set to receive a sizeable portion of the total amount.

The California Faculty Association filed a grievance over the concern that summer faculty were not being paid the same rate as regular academic year professors.

During the summers of 2001, 2002 and 2003, faculty pay was determined by a sliding scale that depended on the number of students in a class. Hellenbrand said that summer session professors must now be paid as though they are teaching during the regular academic year, regardless of the number students in enrolled in their classes.

Penny Jennings, associate vice president for Faculty Affairs, said that CSUN was considered a “buy-down campus” during the summer terms in question, in which state funds were supporting the summer program in an effort to reduce the fees charged to regularly admitted, or matriculated, students. This meant that CSUN administrators did not believe CSUN was a full YRO campus, which would have required it to pay professors using the regular semester salary model, called the 1/30 compensation rule.

An arbitration decision in March 2004, however, declared that schools receiving buy-down funds like CSUN were in fact “modified YRO campuses,” in which the salary model used for Summer 2001, 2002 and 2003 was incorrect and had to be remedied.

Hellenbrand said most people knew by last fall that the arbitrations would require back pay to professors, but that the scale was up for negotiation.

According to Hellenbrand, the $3 million sum will come from various sources, including state trust accounts, or resources pooled by the different colleges and Academic Affairs that acts as a reserve from unused summer enrollment tuition.

“We tried not to spend all the fees collected from summer students, and set it aside for a rainy day,” he said. “That rainy day has come.”

According to Ron Clouse, director of budget planning and management at CSUN, $1.4 million of the total amount to be paid back to faculty came from the CSU, $900,000 came from CSUN funds, and $257,000 has been dispersed to compensate teachers who performed administrative duties such as student advisement and office hours.

Clouse said he did not have the sources of the remainder of the sum on hand.

Hellenbrand said the effects of the settlement would likely be seen around the campus in various forms, but doubts there will be a noticeable drop in classes offered.

“Supplies, services, and equipment will diminish,” he said.

He also said that funding for faculty travel, staff development, and maintenance will likely suffer.

According to Hellenbrand, some colleges would see the affects more than others.

“If a college had more summer school classes, they had to pay more to summer professors,” he said. “The College of Arts, Media (and Communication) took a pretty severe hit out of their state trust account, proportional to their size.”

Despite the challenges created by the arbitrations and settlement, Hellenbrand said the campus would not suffer any major blows as far as classes offered and teachers provided over the summer session.

“By and large we had the same number of offerings as previous summers, but it is more costly now,” he said. “People are going to be exceedingly careful about what they’re offering,” he said.

The California Faculty Association’s regional representative, Audrena Redmond, said the union is pleased with the outcome of the arbitration.

“We’re ecstatic,” she said. “We’re satisfied because it makes up for the compensation people were denied. It gives the faculty some of the money they were owed.”

Redmond said the union feels that at a time when pay raises for faculty have been non-existent, the settlement is more than welcome.

“It’s a shame the grievance had to be filed in the first place,” she said.

Bethania Palma can be reached at bethania.palma.45@csun.edu.