Patrick Trautfield

What would you do with $7 million? Buy a couple of houses on the beach in Hawaii? A grand estate in Beverly Hills? Four penthouses in New York City? Or give a 4 percent raise to all of the 23 California State University system presidents and five top system officers?

The Board of Trustees approved a 4 percent salary increase during their meeting with the Committee on University and Faculty Personnel on Jan. 23 and 24.

However, with student fee increases on the rise and faculty-state bargaining still going on, many see the $7 million raise as untimely.

“When money is an issue, and they can’t reach agreements with all the employee unions, (the raise) seems ill-timed at best,” said Richard Saenz, San Luis Obispo chapter president of the California Faculty Association.

Each president at the 23 CSU campuses receives a different wage, so each raise will be different. Cal Poly’s Warren Baker currently holds the highest income of the presidents. With his $11,500 raise, Baker will be earning $298,372, the second highest salary in the CSU system. CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed ranks at the No. 1 spot, receiving a post-increase salary of $377,000.

The raises will help narrow the gap in wages executives receive compared to executives at other similar institutions. Offering competitive wages is necessary to keeping quality employees from leaving the CSU system and attracting others as well, according to the Committee University and Faculty Personnel, who presented the executive compensation.

It has been the topic of debate whether the same technique to attract executives to the CSU system should be used for teachers.

This issue leads to some speculation due to the recent bargaining problems between the CSU administration and CSU employees. While executives are being paid more and more – this year with a 4 percent increase, and last year with a 19 percent compensation increase – the professors and other staff members on CSU campuses are struggling to raise their own salaries.

The CSU faculty earns an estimated 18 percent less than their peers at similar universities across the country, according to the California Postsecondary Education Commission. The California Faculty Association (CFA) Web site states that CSU faculty salaries have even dipped below the average salary for a community college professor.

“Bargaining has been going on almost two years,” Saenz said. “But they still find it absolutely necessary to get the highest paid people in the system to get their raises.”

This bargaining includes the CSU administration telling faculty that to increase their salaries, they must have a consideration of merit, however, the executive raises don’t seem to follow that motto very closely.

“It was clearly just an across the board raise without a merit component to it,” Saenz said. “Their raise went in without stipulations two years in a row.”

CSU students are also facing financial troubles. Student fee increases are on the rise, with a proposed 10 percent state tuition fee increase for all CSU students.

“While (the executives) are very deserving of the pay raise, the timing of the vote could be better,” Associated Students Inc. President Todd Maki said, “especially while we have big collective bargaining by faculty and the budget increasing student fees.”

Saenz said that the CFA doesn’t support raising tuition because it is a hardship on students paying their way through college.

The wage increase is retroactive, so affected executives will be compensated for their work since June 2006.

In addition to these salaries, executives are also being compensated for housing and car expenses. President Baker currently receives $60,000 as a housing allowance and $12,000 as a car allowance. His salary has increased by over $100,000 in the past 10 years.

Baker has been president of Cal Poly since 1979 and has won numerous awards, including the 2004 Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Far West Region of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He has also been in charge of Cal Poly during its reign as one of the top public regional universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report, as well as being nationally named among the top public undergraduate programs for the College of Engineering.

In addition, Reed sent out a letter on Jan. 31 to all CSU employees touching upon state budget updates and bargaining issues. However, the raise in executive pay, an increase that gives him an extra $14,500 a year, was not mentioned.

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