New Lessons for CSU students

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Earlier this month when the governor's budget plan was unveiled, three groups-- poor families with children, teachers, and college students at UC's and CSU's-- were particularly singled out for sacrifice, so the gov. could cling to his no new taxes pledge. CSU students are expect to part with an additional 10% above and beyond than they are paying now. There are many reasons for this proposed increase, and one of the less widely advertised uses for the students' money can be found in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle.

Twenty-eight of the California State University system's highest-paid executives are in line for another pay raise this week -- just days after students learned they could face a 10 percent tuition increase next fall.

The executive salary increase, scheduled to be considered today in Long Beach by the Board of Trustees, has drawn fire from state lawmakers who have criticized the chancellor for seeking additional pay while the faculty is bogged down in labor negotiations.

The across-the-board 4 percent pay raise would apply to 28 of the CSU's key executives -- the presidents of its 23 campuses as well as Chancellor Charles Reed and four of his top deputies. If approved, the pay raise will come with what amounts to a New Year's bonus for the administrators because the higher salary would be retroactive to July 1 -- presumably meaning a fat catch-up paycheck.

[…]

In October 2005, the CSU's top executives received an average 14 percent pay hike plus increased allowances for cars and housing. That pay raise was made retroactive to July 1, 2005.

As mentioned, pay raises are not coming so easily for others at the CSU's.

The CSU's labor negotiators have been bargaining with the faculty union for nearly two years over a new contract. Complaining of foot-dragging by CSU negotiators, faculty members have staged informational picketing and demonstrations at several campuses. The faculty received a 3.5 percent raise in 2005.

So, is it at all embarrassing that CSU upper management will be getting more, while those who do the real work of the university system-- educating students-- are forlornly rattling the beggar's cup? Of course not. Why not? Because the CSU bosses have a CYA report from a consulting firm. (Emphasis added, to make sure you don't miss how the consulting firm's study was rigged structured.)

The proposal relies in part on a study by a CSU salary consultant, Mercer Human Resources Consulting. In its report, the firm said CSU's top executives are being paid 42 percent less than those at their peer institutions. However, the study also shows that when CSU executives' total compensation packages (including perquisites and retirement plans) are taken into account, the gap narrows to about 11 percent. The Mercer study focused on the executive pay at 20 colleges and universities nationwide and includes several elite private colleges and universities with rigorous admissions standards -- where pay rates tend to be higher than those found at state-supported universities with liberal admissions policies.

Nice. Drop in enough oranges with the apples, and you can justify any pay raise.

On the bright side, this episode might teach CSU students some important lessons. Like how management always sees itself as more important and more worthy of generous compensation than those who do the heavy lifting. And how important it is for a salary consulting firm to be able to justify salary increases for bosses, if it wants to keep getting hired by bosses to consult on salaries. And maybe, as they walk around with lighter wallets as the bosses drive by in their university subsidized cars, a little something about growing income inequality in this country.

Update: The raise was approved, almost unanimously. From the Times:

The lone no vote was cast by Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a trustee by virtue of his office. He urged a delay until after decisions about possible student fee hikes and faculty pay are made in coming months. "For certain, this will even further poison that very contentious issue," Garamendi said of the pay hike's effect on faculty contract talks.

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