The focus of a two-day meeting held at Cal State Long Beach was to figure out ways to deal with a $750-million budget shortfall. One proposal was to limit enrollment for the spring semester, but no final decision was made on that front.
Instead, the Board of Trustees voted to give pay raises to two university presidents, which didn't sit well with students who have been hit with tuition increases.
It might seem counterintuitive to give pay raises to the presidents of two Cal State campuses during a budget crisis. But Cal State officials did exactly that, arguing that the new presidents of Cal State Fullerton and Cal State East Bay deserve a raise. Each will now be paid about $300,000 annually.
Most on the committee said in order to attract and keep qualified personnel, they need to pay more, and that the presidents of the CSU system make 20 percent less than their counterparts at other universities.
"Those same presidents last year brought in $343 million in external resources back to this institution," said CSU trustee Lou Monville. "Under any other measure in any other business, that is a heck of a return on an investment."
The 11-to-3 vote in favor of the pay raises was made Tuesday afternoon at the Long Beach meeting. Officials say that presidents in the Cal State system make 20 percent less than presidents at other universities. But that didn't mean much to angry students who came to protest the pay raises.
"I can only dream of finding a job after I graduate in May where I'll make 15 percent of what some of you presidents and what the chancellors are making this year," said Cal State Long Beach student Kayla Crow. "This is not easy for the majority of students to handle. I've worked 60-hour weeks to pay for my education while covering 17 units so I could get a degree that would allow me to be able to contribute to society, as I'm told I'm supposed to do."
The Cal State presidents' salaries make up about $7 million of the roughly $2 billion budget.
Governor Jerry Brown voiced his disapproval with the board's decision.
"The colleges, and not just those, but a lot of public employers, think that they have to give pay raises. I don't think so. Because the average person has not gotten a pay raise, and the kids have been paying more in tuition," said Brown.
Trustees also grappled Tuesday with how to deal with a $750-million budget shortfall. Also at issue was the governor's tax initiative. If that fails in November, that would trigger an additional $200-million budget cut for the the Cal State system.
"Criticism of this board, the chancellor, presidents, and others, has been dramatically misdirected," said William Hauk, the chairman of the Cal State Board of Trustees. "We are all functioning in unprecedented circumstances related to a lack of funding and an outright policy of disinvesting in public higher education."
The university presidents that received the pay raises will be making about 10 percent more than their predecessors.
The proposal to limit enrollment on 23 campuses next spring is still under consideration. No final vote on the issue was held Tuesday.