Along with deciding to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, the California State University Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to approve pay hikes for its four new presidents, including CSUN’s president, Dianne Harrison.
All four new presidents’ salaries are capped at the previous pay rate, as stated by CSU’s Executive Compensation Policy, yet three of the four have been granted additional “raises” from private foundations.
Among them is Harrison, CSUN’s new president, who will receive an additional $29,500 on top of her annual salary $295,000.
While discussing the approval of new salaries, multiple members spoke up to stress how any perceived raises were given by private foundations whose members earmarked donated funds for that specific purpose.
“No funds are taken away from scholarships or financial aid,” said trustee Steven Glazer. “And no new taxpayer money is going to presidential salary increases.”
Bernadette Cheyne, a board member, also admonished the media for portraying an idea that raises are not given in other CSU departments, a view she said is inaccurate.
“There’s this idea that nobody else is treated this way,” said Cheyne. “We need to have a balanced understanding of the situation.”
Student trustee Jillian Ruddell voted against the new executive salaries. Ruddell had previously moved to change the percentages of the executive pay raises, but the motion failed to be seconded.
Yesterday’s approval faced immediate criticism as students and representatives from the CSU Employees Union and student organizations voiced disapproval from the stands.
Nakia Brazier, a student from CSU Los Angeles, pleaded with the new presidents to send a message by forfeiting their raises.
“You don’t have to accept these,” she said during public comment. “I ask you to make some effort to truly represent your students.”
The board also discussed ways to compensate for the governor’s proposed $250 million trigger cut to the CSU should voters fail to approve the tax initiative on the November ballot. No financial strategy will be implemented until its next meeting in September.
One strategy, named “Preserving Access,” would include increasing tuition by $150 per semester and require a 2.5 percent reduction in payroll and benefits for CSU employees. The alternative, “Preserving Price” strategy, would require an enrollment reduction of 1.5 percent and a 5.25 percent cut to payroll and benefits, along with a variety of other cuts.
Before the strategies were introduced, new committee members of the CSU Employees Union introduced themselves to the board and voiced concern.
Mike Geck, CSUEU vice president for organizing, commented on how the proposed payroll reductions would push more of his co-workers into poverty.
“We hear a lot about shared sacrifice,” said Geck. “What we’re seeing right now is not mutual respect.”
A few dozen CSU faculty members picketed outside of the administrative building wearing red t-shirts that read, “I don’t want to strike but I will.”
Deborah Hamm, professor of education at CSU Long Beach, said she hopes pressure from the public will increase focus on students’ access to education rather than salary raises.
“To face a crisis like this we have to sit down and work toward the cause — education, not faculty and administration,” she said.
Hamm also said Chancellor Charles Reed was not an accurate representation of the CSU faculty.
“We have a passion for students and our work, not for fancy office buildings on Golden Shore Drive,” she said. “[Reed] was the administration of the CSU, not the heart and soul of CSU.”