California residents are currently in an uproar over Cal State’s proposed budget cut measures. They are even more upset about the recent announcement that two of CSU’s college presidents will be receiving 10 percent pay raises. Most are simply trying to understand the logic behind the California State University trustees’ recent decisions.
The Board of Trustees of the nation’s largest public university system is claiming that they are in dire financial straits. They had to trim the budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year by $750 million. Another $200 million in budget cuts will have to take place for the 2012-2013 fiscal year if a tax increase measure doesn’t pass the November ballot. The planned budget cuts may include any combination of:
- Slashing enrollment and establishing an admissions freeze where applicants are put on a waiting list.
- Terminating low-enrollment programs
- Laying off approximately 3,000 faculty and staff members
- Eliminating athletic and other non-academic programs
- Limiting the number of courses a student can take, with a maximum of 15-17 credits each term (except for graduating seniors)
- Limiting library acquisitions
- Delaying maintenance projects
- Continuing a hiring freeze
- Streamlining operations
Under the current plan, only a few of the 23 campuses will be accepting any new students for the spring 2013 semester. Only eight campuses will be accepting students transferring from community colleges for the spring 2013 term. These campuses are: Channel Islands, Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino, and Sonoma. None of the Cal State campuses will be making early admissions decisions until after the November election has taken place. All applicants are being warned that admittance is contingent on the passing of the tax measure. Students can expect the fall 2013 enrollment options to be very limited for all 23 campuses.
These drastic measures will affect thousands of people. The California State University system is the main source of education for the majority of California’s bachelor-level students. The massive 23-university network typically uses 44,000 faculty and staff members to serve a 427,000-member student body. However, Cal State has reported that it has already received 665,860 applications for the next fall term by first-time freshmen and transfer students. Even though the enrollment applications have increased by nearly 55,000 students over last year’s total, Cal State says it may have to reduce last year’s enrollment by at least 3 percent. This means about 70,000 to 75,000 students will be denied access to the state’s public university system, which is mostly funded by California taxpayers.
Pay raise for two college president
The trustees have asked Chancellor Charles Reed to devise alternatives for raising income and the extreme budgetary measures. They especially want him to find alternatives to the dire enrollment limitation measures and need for tuition hikes. However, the Board of Trustees simultaneously voted to increase the pay for two college presidents while they were planning the extreme budget cuts. The new presidents at Fullerton’s and East Bay’s campuses will get a 10 percent pay hike. According to CSU administrators, the pay hikes are necessary in order to attract and retain executive talent.
Basically, this means that the nation’s largest public university system is planning on harshly reducing the accessibility and quality of a higher education to thousands of students. At the same time that they layoff 3,000 faculty and staff members, they are going to increase the pay of two college presidents by the highest amount of pay raise that is allowed by law. CSU East Bay President Leroy Morishita will now be paid a base salary of $303,660. CSU Fullerton President Mildred Garcia will receive a base salary of $324,500. Both will also receive the same $12,000 car allowance and $60,000 housing allowance that all of the CSU presidents currently receive. These salaries and perks are higher than those received by the President of the U.S., the California governor and the Chief of the Supreme Court.
Reactions to budget cuts and pay raises
Various people have publically responded to the proposed budget cut measures and presidential pay hikes. Some of these reactions are:
- Governor Jerry Brown – “It’s very important, but I do think when you are talking $250,000 to $300,000 and you also give housing and car allowance, that’s a lot given the retrenchment that we all have to face. Governor Brown believes that CSU administrators are “setting a pattern for public service that we cannot afford.”
- State Senator Leland Yee- Senator Yee has introduced a bill to cap campus presidents’ pay increases while tuition is being hiked. He stated, “When the students are suffering, CSU should not be handing out such exorbitant executive compensation.”
- State Senator Ted Lieu – Senator Lieu has also sponsored a bill that would keep CSU executives from receiving pay hikes during bad fiscal years and within three years of any tuition hikes. Senator Lieu considers CSU’s current CEO-level compensation packages to be egregious considering CSU’s and the state’s continuous fiscal crises. He also thinks the CSU managers are bilking California taxpayers while undermining the affordability of the public university.
- John Seibert Farnsworth of Santa Clara – “In essence, the people of California have reneged on our contract with these students, and we’ve done so at a point when they have already invested two years of work at the community college level. He was referring to transfer students from community colleges.
- Antoine Wilson, a senior at Cal State Dominguez Hills – “They’re forcing us to make cuts because they don’t have the money to pay for academic services, but they’re approving salary increases. It shows you where their priorities are.”
- Shery Bacon, counselor at Hamilton High School – “It would continue to eliminate opportunities for our students. As a counselor, I already feel concerned and hypocritical when referring students to higher education when I know those seats are dwindling and now being put on hold.”
- Sylvia Womak (Polytechnic High counselor) and Dan Nannini (Santa Monica counselor)- Both Ms. Womack and Mr. Nannini think these measures will force students to choose attending colleges out-of-state or else attend private schools. They also believe that it will force many students to delay their college graduation or else forego getting a college degree altogether.
- George Escutia, Jr., student at Norco College – “The hold on enrollment is unfair to thousands of students who now must wait on the outcome of an election to find out if they will be attending a CSU. We cannot continue to determine our economic future on election cycles. California must re-invest in education.”
- Gerald Good, retiree – “Why not make major use of the Internet and do most of the teaching online? It would cut costs significantly and thereby provide wider access.”
The California Faculty Association (CFA) represents CSU faculty members in their fight to stop CSU from taking these dire measures. They highly condemned the CSU chancellor and Board of Trustees for their actions and attitudes in a recent report. CFA released a report titled: For-Profit Higher Education and the California State University, a Cautionary Tale.” In this report, CFA warns the public that CSU’s top management are trying to use the Extended Education programs to by-pass public accountability. They also claim that the programs will be used to create new opportunities for exploiting California’s struggling student population. According to the report, most of the Extended Education programs that incorporate the Internet into the teaching have dismally failed. The statistics demonstrate that most students do not do as well in online classes as they do in the traditional brick and mortar classrooms.
CFA also questions the logic of lavishing exorbitant executive salaries during the worst economic downturn in California since the Great Depression. They are asking why a university chancellor and campus presidents should each receive higher salaries and more perks than the U.S. president. CSU presidents also have higher salaries and perks than the Chief of the Supreme Court and the Governor of California. CFA especially wants to know why the top executives are being treated like CEOs rather than the public servants they are supposed to be. The association also offered several alternatives to the proposed budget cut measures and pay hikes.