The decision by California State University trustees to grant a campus president a 100,000-U.S.-dollar pay rise on the heels of a 12 percent tuition hike has roiled many Californians and state legislators are taking actions to stop it.
California State Senator Ted W. Lieu Wednesday announced the introduction of a bill to limit salaries and prioritize California talent.
"I believe a 100,000-dollar annual raise to San Diego State University's new president was unreasonable, especially while tuition fees for students were increased by 12 percent," Lieu said.
"They have not listened to my call to reverse the pay hike. I'm pushing to limit salaries to a reasonable level of compensation," he added.
Designated as Senate Bill X1 26 and introduced as part of the Senate's special session to address fiscal issues, Lieu's bill has three goals:
CSU trustees cannot pay campus presidents more than 150 percent of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court unless approved by the governor. The chief justice earns 228,856 dollars. Under Lieu's bill, the pay for campus presidents would be limited to 343,269 dollars;
CSU trustees cannot approve any pay hikes or bonuses if a student tuition increase has occurred within three years;
And when hiring a campus president, CSU trustees must give first preference to applicants within the CSU system. Secondary consideration will then be given to California residents. Out-of-state residents would be given last priority.
Lieu's SBX1 26 is awaiting assignment to a policy-review committee, which is expected to occur within next week. If approved and signed into law, it would take effect 90 days after the end of session.
The California administration's spending priorities have been under attack when it comes to the state's increasingly dysfunctional system of higher education.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the CSU system's trustees have raised the tuition and fees for CSU students by a hefty 12 percent, after the legislature and governor agreed to a budget that included a 650-million dollar reduction in the CSU system's funding.
The trustees not only voted for the tuition hike overwhelmingly. They also raised the pay of the new president of San Diego State University to 400,000 dollars per year, about 100,000 dollars more than what the old president was getting.
The chancellor of the CSU system, Charles Reed, said the salary increase was justified because a study paid for by the CSU revealed that Cal State presidents were "underpaid compared to their peers at similar institutions."
The increase will bring the amount of tuition and fees for CSU students to about 6,422 dollars per year for undergraduates, and about 6,738 dollars for graduate students.
Professor Ralph Westfall said the administration as a whole is growing disproportionately quickly in the system.
According to Westfall, between 1975 and 2008, the number of full-time faculty in the CSU system rose from 11,614 to 12,019, a 3.5 percent increase, while the number of administrators rose by 221 percent to 12,183from 3,800. The ratio of full-time faculty to administrators thus went from three-to-one to less than one-to-one.
At Westfall's college, since 1984, the number of "management personnel plan" administrators went from 90 to 132. If the college had kept the administration at the 1984 levels, it could have hired 50 new full-time professors, allowing 300 more class sections to be offered each year, or it could have reduced tuition and fees for the 17,000 students by about 400 dollars per year.