The California State University (CSU) trustees approved a 10% raise for two campus presidents this week, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Their decision to reward these executives came immediately after hearing a grim financial forecast that prompted them to impose far-reaching cuts, including an admissions freeze that will deny admission to 16,000 students and a hiring freeze that will keep classes large and reduce course offerings and student support services.
The CSU system faces a $750 million cut in state funding for the next academic year, with an additional $200 million in cuts if voters fail to approve a tax increase in November. If this happens, the trustees plan to reduce enrollment by an additional 20,000 students and lay off 3,000 employees. Despite the university’s huge budget deficit, trustees offered the two presidents base salaries exceeding $300,000, as well as $12,000 car allowances and $60,000 housing allowances for each.
As usual, the CSU administrators are saying the raises are necessary to attract and retain top executive talent. Yet, what good is this “top talent,” when it has overseen record tuition hikes and program cuts over the past decade? (Tuition has increased six years in a row, including a 9% hike this school year).
The “top talent” argument is also specious. If the schools offered lower salaries, they would still attract qualified candidates and their academic programs certainly wouldn’t suffer as much as they do from budget cuts and tuition hikes. In fact, their predecessors did the job for less and one the executives, Leroy Morishita, did do the same job for less (nearly $30,000 less), as interim president, the L.A. Times reported this week.
If the goal is to provide a quality education, then the solution is to keep executive pay low and do everything to keep tuition low, as well.