The California State University (CSU) trustees decided to offer three of its presidents nearly $85,000 in raises on Tuesday, despite its ongoing budget shortfalls that have led to layoffs, slashing of course offerings, wage freezes and double digit tuition hikes (including a 12% tuition increase last year). The university faces another midyear tuition increase, pay cuts for teachers and hundreds more layoffs if the November tax measure fails. The trustees have justified the move by arguing that the money will come only from private donors who wish to augment the pay of CSU’s executives, the SF Chronicle reported today.
This begs the question of who would give away money to a university expressly to boost the pay of its bosses, all of whom already earn over $300,000 per year (not including perks like subsidized housing and a $12,000 per year vehicle allowance), while allowing these same universities to continue to squeeze the rest of their employees and their students?
The answer should be obvious: wealthier members of the ruling elite.
It is the wealthy who give the largest share of private donations to universities and they do not do it primarily for altruistic reasons. Rather, they get tax benefits. Sometimes they get their name on a building. It can provide them with positive press. And in the case of executive pay, it is an expression of class solidarity.
Two new presidents, Dianne Harrison (CSU Northridge) and Tomas Morales (CSU San Bernardino), will get 10% raises above what their predecessors made, while Les Wong (San Francisco State) will earn a 9% raise. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed insisted that the donations were not being diverted from other purposes, like scholarships. Yet the financial aid for the presidents will be administered by the same foundation that administers financial aid for the students.
The gifts to the executives comes in the wake of revelations that CSU spent millions of taxpayer dollars renovating the presidents’ homes and the recent strike authorization vote by CSU faculty, which set the stage for the largest university strike in U.S. history.