CSU system receives funding, possibly increasing salaries for faculty

CSU system receives funding, possibly increasing salaries for faculty

Shira Moskowitz

Report from Cal State Northridge
Report from Cal State Northridge

California lawmakers recently passed a state budget aiming in part to reverse the impacts of several years of budget cuts to higher education by allocating $125 million to the CSU system.

But exactly where the money will be allocated still remains unclear, and especially how it will impact the CSU faculty.

Between 1998 to 2010, CSU full-time faculty has experienced an overall 10 percent decrease in their salaries while CSU presidential salaries have risen during the same period.

Brian Ferguson, communications specialist for the California Faculty Association (CFA), said that just because the state budget has now been passed, it does not mean the CFA and the Chancellor’s office have come to an agreement about faculty salary increases.

Chancellor Timothy White had sent a letter earlier this year, stating that if new funding did come through, he would use $38 million to fund equity increases and possibly raise salaries for CSU faculty, Ferguson said.

“Equity increases are a particular type of salary increase for one group of faculty, who based on where they were hired, weren’t paid as much as some of their peers. And so that is up to the chancellor now,” Ferguson said.

Since 2009, when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut $584 million from the CSU system, students and faculty alike have suffered.

“Many CSU employees had their workloads reduced and had to take furlough days,” Ferguson said.

CSUN psychology professor Frederick Elias does not believe that a pay raise would make a big difference to students or to faculty, since the extra money would eventually be taken out in taxes.

“Pay raises are not as important as medical benefits…anyway, they take it all back in taxes,” Elias said.

While CSU employees were seeing salary decreases during these years, Chancellor Reed’s office got a 20 percent increase in salaries and the CSU presidents received a 23 percent increase in their salaries, said the CFA website.

Furthermore, according to Glassdoor.com, professors at the University of Southern California, a private institution, make $132,156 on average per year compared to CSUN professors that make $68,944 on average a year.

The current contract that the CFA has with the CSU system allows for a renegotiation of salaries and benefits for CSU employees for the 2013/2014 year, Ferguson said.

April Valencia, a finance major at CSUN, said she feels teachers would be more dedicated if they had a pay raise.

“Maybe if teachers were paid more, they would be more willing to spend more time in the classroom and willing to take more time to teach an engaging class, not just walk in and leave.”

Besides potential salary raises, another proposal in the budget intended to increase CSU faculty’s healthcare costs, but it was struck down.

“Faculty members are now going to be able to keep their current level of health benefits and not have to pay more,” Ferguson said.

While CSU student tuition fees has increased more than 12 percent since the fall of 2009, the new state budget does offer sigh of relief for students.

Gov. Jerry Brown took back his own proposal regarding unit caps where students who went over 180 units would be charged extra money.

“A lot of students go over the 180 unit cap because they change their major or they can’t get the classes they need, or they transferred from a community college with extra units, so to not have a student unit cap in place is a big victory for students,” Ferguson said.

The Middle Class Scholarships Act was also passed, which will financially assist students whose families make less than $150,000 a year, starting in the 2014/2015 fiscal year. The act will help students from public universities and community colleges with up to 40 percent of their tuition and fees.

“The Middle Class Scholarships Act will provide $107 million in scholarships for CSU students, so that is  a huge victory for student access,” Ferguson said.

While negotiations won’t start until July 1, Ferguson remains hopeful.

“The CSU faculty has done their part to help with the budget crisis, and now these negotiations are our opportunity to get some of that back,” Ferguson said.

 CSUN’s CFA representative Nate Thomas did not return multiple calls and emails for comment.