The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees wrapped up its May meeting Wednesday by recapping some of its potential cost-cutting strategies to help offset its universities’ budget woes.
Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Quillian concluded the two-day meeting by announcing the ideas — including giving additional workload to professors, charging more fees for students and possibly eliminating state funding to one of the CSU’s more affluent campuses — will be further discussed at a meeting of the statewide budget advisory committee.
The proposals are yet to be voted on or approved; CSU officers instead presented them as worst-case alternatives if the university system takes further cuts later this year.
“The unpalatable things as a system, we may have to start thinking about, in order to deal with the scenarios that we could end up getting presented with,” Robert Turnage, the CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget, said during the finance meeting on Tuesday.
The trustees also took steps to further regulate top-level pay at the CSU’s 23 campuses during their meeting. While students and professors protested high-level compensation outside, a special panel on presidential compensation voted to freeze pay increases for university presidents.
The new policy instead allows for university foundations — such as the Cal Poly Corporation — to contribute raises up to 10 percent of current salaries for newly hired presidents.
The Board of Trustees meeting was punctuated by a CBS 2 investigation into what it called “questionable spending” by top-level university executives, including CSU Chancellor Charles Reed. The report, based on expenses found on at least one CSU credit card, detailed more than $750,000 spent on catering, private transportation and restaurant bills.
State Senator Ted Lieu responded to the report with a letter to the chancellor Tuesday where he called for Reed’s resignation over comments that the money was well spent. Lieu’s letter, published online by CBS 2, called the spending “shameful.”
CSU Spokesperson Mike Uhlenkamp said the claims made by CBS 2 are under investigation by the university and are the results of thousands of documents collected by the news station over the course of a year. He also said catered meals are often provided to visitors by the Chancellor’s Office.
“We are going through the different claims made in the report,” Uhlenkamp said.
Students assembled outside Reed’s dinner party at his Long Beach home Tuesday night to protest continuing tuition increases and presidential raises, even with the freeze being implemented. Protestors, including some on a hunger strike against the CSU, made reference to the dinners and catering outlined in the CBS 2 report, as reported by several Los Angeles media outlets.
At one point, trustee Steven Glazer came to the students and answered questions about university spending. He said the Board of Trustees is moving in the right direction toward creating a better system for presidential compensation.