Chancellor Charles B. Reed holds his head during a meeting of the trustees… (Reed Saxon / AP Photo )
The decision by California State University to slam the doors on new applicants next year will have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of hopeful students if it comes to pass. No one would be accepted for the spring semester except a handful of transfers at a few campuses, and all newly admitted students for the following fall — usually about 90,000 in all — would be warned that their spots were not secure. University officials say the only way this won't happen is if tax increases are passed to slow the mounting cuts at the state's most affordable and accessible four-year colleges.
The university could well be outlining this dire scenario as a gambit to persuade voters to back the tax hikes. But the pain, and the necessity for at least some drastic action, is real enough. It would be irresponsible for the university to continue accepting students when it can't afford to offer them the necessary classes to progress toward a degree.
Those students include thousands who have already spent years navigating the community colleges, where course offerings also are limited, and who have managed to cobble together the class units required for transfer to a four-year school. Chances are that many of them have needed far more than the supposed two years to get to
that point. They've been put through a grueling and frustrating process, and now they would have to do it again at a Cal State school. This bodes poorly for California's future, which requires an educated population if the state is to attract employers and train the teachers necessary to replace retiring baby boomers.
But Cal State erodes the public's trust when it moves, as a panel of trustees did Tuesday, to raise the salaries of two new campus presidents by 10%, to more than $300,000 a year, and to provide generous perks. The increases don't cost enough to have a meaningful impact on Cal State admissions, but they indicate an appalling lack of concern about the troubles that students face and imply that the university can find extra money when it wants to. The incoming president of Cal State Fullerton, Mildred Garcia, has been the president of Cal State Dominguez Hills since 2007, earning a $295,000 salary. It's unclear why she needed a double-digit increase to take on a parallel job within commuting distance of her current campus, especially during such pressing times, except that the university's policy allows raises of that much and no more.
Struggling college students deserve better from their state and from Cal State executives.