Cal State’s Executive Compensation

The campuses of California State University might be struggling, but not senior administrators at the schools.

According to an article by Erica Perez at the Center for Investigative Reporting’s California Watch blog:

In a pay package slated for review at this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, newly appointed CSU Fullerton President Mildred Garcia will get $324,500 in base pay, plus housing and a $12,000-per-year car allowance. That’s exactly 10 percent more than her predecessor, Milton Gordon, who in 2011 had a base salary of $295,000.

It’s also 10 percent more than Garcia earned in base pay at her previous post as president of CSU Dominguez Hills, according to CSU’s executive compensation.

CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp said the university needs to compensate Garcia and Morishita for the increased responsibilities they have. CSU Fullerton, where Garcia is taking the reins, has more than double the enrollment of CSU Dominguez Hills, for example.

In November Cal State trustees voted to increase student tuition by 9 percent for 2012. Students at CSU schools now pay a total $7,017 a year to attend college. That’s about three times what it cost in 2002-03.

The institution explains that it makes “every effort to keep student costs to a minimum.” But “fees listed in published schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate.”

The meaning of “inadequate” is undefined, however.

Uhlenkamp apparently said that there was little connection between the increase in executive pay and rising student tuition. “It’s such a small part of our budget; it’s more symbolic than anything,” he said.

Leaving aside the fact that symbolic meaning of the salary hike is something along the lines of “it’s more important for us to pay the president really, really lavishly than keep the institution affordable,” many argue that, in fact, the increase in the number of administrators and their salaries is one of the major reasons college tuition has increased so rapidly in recent years.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer