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Trustees Are Urging Pay Hikes for CSU Presidents : Education: Chancellor says that despite harsh economic times, salaries must be increased to halt defections to other institutions.

September 15, 1993|RALPH FRAMMOLINO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a prelude to what many expect will be a controversial action, a committee of California State University trustees on Tuesday approved a resolution aimed at significantly boosting the salaries of campus presidents to stay "competitive" with similar institutions around the country.

Chancellor Barry Munitz told trustees "there's never a good time" to talk about the pay raises--especially during a recession and in an era of stiff student fee increases--but he pressed the issue because of the recent loss of some school presidents and the growing difficulty of recruiting top administrators.

"We are falling further and further behind," Munitz said, adding that salaries are so "pushed down at the presidential level, we are not only losing presidential candidates but vice presidential and dean candidates."

To buttress his case, Munitz presented a salary survey that showed his campus presidents were being paid nearly 21% less than the average salary of counterparts at 16 comparable university systems in Texas, Wisconsin, New York, Colorado, Arizona and several other states. CSU presidents average $120,075 a year, compared to $145,000 at the other institutions.

Munitz told trustees he also wants to boost presidential housing allowances.

As the newest president in the system, Blenda J. Wilson of Cal State Northridge receives the highest salary--$134,796--and the most generous housing allowance--$26,400, more than half of which is a supplement that comes from private funds.

Wilson said Tuesday that if she had not been offered that much, she would have stayed at the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus, where she was provided a house and funds for its upkeep.

"I can tell you I would not be here if I were being paid the salary of most of my colleagues," Wilson said.

"And that seems to me to be the issue, whether or not the CSU can be competitive nationally for people who are sitting in presidencies or CEO positions. It is simply true that they cannot."

The subject of administrative pay is a sore one at Cal State. Munitz's predecessor, W. Ann Reynolds, was ousted as chancellor in 1990 after she engineered pay hikes of 21% to 43% for herself and other top administrators in closed session, angering faculty and legislators.

Although that incident was not specifically mentioned, its memory leavened Tuesday's discussion. "It's been a no-no to discuss this issue almost from the day I got on this board," said Board Chairman Anthony M. Vitti, who was appointed in 1989, " . . . but it's an issue that cannot be put off any longer."

The move toward higher presidential salaries drew cautious support from a faculty representative, who asked that the salaries of other CSU employees not be overlooked.

But William Moton, a student at Bakersfield and chairman of the California State Students Assn., pointed out that students have had to pay tuition increases of 20%, 40% and 10% in the past three years. "If we're tightening our belts, everyone should tighten their belts," Moton said.

Munitz noted that the president of Cal State Stanislaus resigned in May, 1992, to take over Indiana State University, and the Long Beach State president left in March for Milliken University, a much smaller college in Decatur, Ill.

In setting executive pay, the resolution says Cal State will give "primary consideration" to the median salary paid at 20 comparable schools, including USC, Loyola of Chicago, Arizona State, Wayne State University in Detroit and Rutgers of New Jersey.

The resolution is expected to be approved by the full board today.

Munitz said he will use the resolution to frame specific requests for more generous allowances and pay raises by November, when trustees consider the 1994 budget. Although he wants to institute the housing allowances immediately upon trustee approval, Munitz said he may recommend waiting until next year to put through the pay raises.

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