On Nov. 18, the California State University (CSU) board of trustees voted to eliminate salary caps for new campus presidents in order to remain competitive and recruit more qualified applicants. This move was preceded by an approval the day to request $103 million more in-state funds than allocated to the university for the next fiscal year.
The vote was passed 8-4, although many board members expressed concern over the message this elimination of a salary cap might send. The current salaries of CSU presidents range from the lowest at $257,500 and the highest at $420,240. The new policy allows Chancellor Timothy White to go beyond a 10 percent pay increase for exceptional candidates who receive the position as a CSU president. Additionally, the CSU is considering a tuition hike in order to improve facilities for students and to generate revenue for the system.
“When we’re telling faculty they can’t have more than (a) 2 percent (raise), but we’re looking at potentially giving new presidents 10 percent, that’s not a good message to send,” said board member Douglas Faigin.
CSU management is currently in debate with the California Faculty Association (CFA) over the union’s contract. The CSU union, which represents over 26,000 staff members, wants a 5 percent general increase across the spectrum and a 2.65 percent additional increase for 12,000 union members, such as custodians and service staff.
The CSU management has refused to go any further than a 2 percent general increase, citing budget issues as the primary reason. According to the CSU Chancellor’s office, the demands of the union would require $68.9 million more than management is prepared to spend on professor salary increases.
The debates are already in the final stage, fact-finding. A third-party mediator will sit down with both parties and try to mediate a solution. At the end, White will make his best and final offer, at which the CFA can either accept the offer or be legally allowed to go on strike. Meanwhile, CFA members and their supporters held a rally outside of the board of trustees’ meetings on Nov. 17, the first day of the meeting. Their supporters, labor organizations, volunteers and students, all went to the meeting in order to speak on the union’s behalf.
“Fight for 5 percent is an important measure on how much the trustees respect our work. Our members have made it clear they have said I don’t want to strike but I will,” said CFA President Jennifer Eagan.
Additionally, an advisory panel recently directed the board of trustees to start increasing tuition, which has been static for four years. The plan has not officially been approved yet and will be reviewed in January, 2015. The advisory panel suggested tuition increase as a way to combat economic and financial instability and the increase of enrollment within the CSU system.