In a politically volatile mix, trustees of the California State University system today are expected to approve pay hikes for the system's top executives and a 10% student fee increase for next fall.
However, trustees said they hope to avoid enacting the fee increase--part of their preliminary budget proposal--by persuading the state to increase funding for higher education next year.
The pay hike proposal, approved by a trustees committee Tuesday over the objections of a faculty union leader, would grant increases retroactive to July 1 to Chancellor Barry Munitz--the first since his 1991 hiring--and to 22 other top executives and campus presidents.
Trustees also are expected to adopt the 10% increase in tuition for next fall, which would raise student fees from $1,584 to $1,740. But they again are asking Gov. Pete Wilson and the state Legislature to provide enough extra funding to avoid that increase, as occurred this year.
Under the pay proposal, Munitz would get an 8.6% raise, hiking his annual salary to $190,008. His deferred compensation would double, to $20,000 per year. But the chancellor said he intends to donate most of the salary increase to a university scholarship program for inner-city youths.
Among the 22 Cal State campus presidents, four would receive no increase, 12 would get 2.5% hikes and six would get 5% increases for extra performance. The salaries would range from $120,288 to a high of $153,660 for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo President Warren Baker.
Cal State Northridge President Blenda Wilson, whose salary was raised 5% to $145,788, would emerge as the second-highest paid president. She has headed Northridge, now the fifth-largest campus, for three years.
"The leadership she has provided in the earthquake recovery has been spectacular and has gotten national attention," said Munitz in explaining Wilson's raise and salary ranking. Earlier this year, he gave Wilson a glowing evaluation, calling her "a national leader in higher education."
In addition to Munitz and the 18 presidents, four other executives would receive raises. The largest would be for the system's No. 2 administrator--Executive Vice Chancellor Molly Broad--with a 12% raise to $155,124, her first in four years, and a $6,000 housing allowance increase.
In contrast, new University of California President Richard Atkinson earns $243,500 annually, and the chancellors who head the nine UC campuses received mostly 3.5% to 5% raises this year to boost their salaries to between $173,000 and $248,400--the group's first increase since 1990.
Trustees and Munitz defended the pay hikes, contending that Cal State is having trouble keeping and attracting top executives because other universities offer significantly higher salaries. A recent state study concluded that the pay of Cal State presidents lags behind similar groups of college executives--not including UC campus chancellors--by 22.5%.
"We are so far away [in pay], we are losing candidates who are deans and vice presidents at other institutions," Munitz told a group of trustees Tuesday. "We have superb people. They are dramatically underpaid."
But the leader of the California Faculty Assn., representing more than 17,000 Cal State instructors, warned that the pay hike could hurt the system's support among state lawmakers and the public.
"CFA believes this type of obscenity must stop," said Terry Jones, a Cal State Hayward professor.
"I think we need to try to get our priorities in order," Jones said, contrasting the 1.2% cost-of-living increase faculty members received this year with the 2.7% average awarded the campus presidents. Other Cal State employee groups have yet to negotiate new contracts or raises this year.
The issue of salary hikes for Cal State executives has been a politically touchy subject for several years, since former Cal State Chancellor Ann Reynolds was ousted after pushing through a hefty raise for herself behind closed doors.
And the timing of the hike--coming on the same day the trustees are proposing the student fee increase--may make it more difficult for the system to win the financial support it needs in the Capitol, said Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, who is also a Cal State trustee.
"Our case in Sacramento turns in large part on the moral authority we bring with us," Davis said. "We would have a lot more moral authority if we did not have a [student] fee increase in our initial budget."
Munitz voiced agreement with that notion. But Cal State officials said they have to include the fee increase in their budget proposal because of uncertainty over whether state officials will provide the extra funding.
This fall was the first year since 1986-87 that student fees did not increase.