Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez called Tuesday for a legislative audit of the compensation practices of the California State University system, citing reports that former executives have received substantial pay for ill-defined jobs after leaving their posts.
The reports, published this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, said millions of dollars in extra compensation has been paid to campus presidents and other top executives.
According to the reports, outgoing campus presidents and vice chancellors were given jobs as tenured professors, provided with consulting deals or issued "transition pay" without public disclosure by the chancellor and the university system's Board of Trustees.
In interviews Tuesday, Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed and Murray L. Galinson, a member of the Board of Trustees and its chairman until last month, defended the practices and said they would welcome an audit.
Reed said that Cal State was obligated under its employment contracts to provide professorships or other employment to the executives. He said the positions, which have cost up to $4 million since the early 1980s, were perks needed to recruit top executives.
In addition, Reed said, the executives who received tenured professorships gained the positions only after faculty committees approved them.
Reed said that in other cases he persuaded executives to forfeit their right to long-term professorships and take on special assignments as a way to save the university system money and make better use of their experience.
Reed and Galinson said the departure deals were disclosed in line with Cal State policies, although Galinson added that it would have been better "public relations" to announce the arrangements publicly rather than in closed-door personnel sessions.
The Cal State disclosures follow a controversy in the University of California system about reports that it spent millions in questionable or undisclosed pay for top managers, while repeatedly raising student fees and imposing cutbacks.
Recent audits have found that UC leaders systematically violated or circumvented policies in order to provide the extra money to top administrators and professors.
Nunez, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said in a news release that he was "deeply troubled by allegations that former high-level CSU officials have been given dubious positions after their tenures, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars to do no discernible work while students have seen their tuition rise almost 30% in the past three years."