California State University Board of Trustees approved a 4 percent raise for 28 CSU executives Tuesday while student fee increases are up in the air, the members of the California Faculty Association fight for salary increases and benefits, and the budget has yet to be approved.
Faculty, employees and even Board of Trustees member Lt. Gov. John Garamendi are questioning the timing of the vote.
CSUN Employee Union representative Dennis Dillon says he finds the trustees decision to be “problematic.”
“The governor’s budget doesn’t meet the CSU’s request and there’s talk of raising student fees – this is not the time to talk about raising executive salaries,” Dillon said. “One would really have to question their leadership ability for them to come up with this at this time.”
California Faculty Association CSUN chapter president James David Ballard has been involved with negotiations with the CSU for almost two years.
When asked for his reaction to the decision to raise executive salaries, Ballard simply said, “Greedy bastards ? I’m tired of pussyfooting around.”
“You know you’re greedy when the politicians say you’re too money grubbing,” Ballard said.
Ballard’s comment was in reference to the reported conversation between Garamendi and CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in which the timing of the raise was questioned.
CSU representative Claudia Keith said while the Trustees respect Garamendi’s suggestion, they had to make a decision.
According to a recent study conducted by a CSU salary consultant, CSU executives are being paid 42 percent less than the national average. However, when executive benefits and compensation packages are added, the gap decreases considerably to 11 percent. The study compares CSU to 20 colleges and universities nationwide, including elite private schools.
The 28 CSU administrators will now get a 4 percent increase, including back pay since July 2006. CSUN President Jolene Koester will get an approximate $10,000 bump in pay making her annual salary $265,225, excluding benefits. That calculates out to $727 a day and $30 an hour, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
Chancellor Reed will now be making more than the California governor’s salary at $377,000.
“When the CSU Chancellor makes more than the governor, something’s wrong,” Ballard said.
“We have to fairly compensate our presidents as well as our employees,” Keith said. “They were due for a raise in July just like everybody else.”
Ballard said executive perks are paid directly by students through the University Corporation.
“Students are now considered customers,” Dillon said. “The system now operates like the auto and steel industry of the 1950s.”
Dillon also said he felt he received a better education in the 1970s than we do now.
“The purpose then was to get an education and the state assisted,” he said.
Dillon said he believes there is a fundamental flaw in the system that is being overlooked while CSUs and the educational system infrastructure deteriorate.
“Education is not a business and students are not customers,” Dillon said.
Ballard and Dillon both said they have hope that the state legislature will begin to put pressure on the CSU by taking a closer look at CSU finances, student fee increases and executive perks.
Keith said the CSU will not have any clearer answers regarding the budget and student fee increases until early June.
In October of last year, students and faculty joined together to protest the recent decisions and indecisions of the CSU Board of Trustees. The executive perks and golden parachute retirement plans are being investigated through a lawsuit brought by the CFA. Koester and the other 22 CSU presidents and CSU administration are named in the suit. Tension has continued to escalate as the governor reviews the CSU budget.