Tag Archives: CSU Board of Trustees

Failure is Success: Charlie Reed Cited for Leadership Abilities

In an act of supreme irony TIAA-CREF last week awarded CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed the 2012 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence, “one of the most prestigious honors in academic stewardship” according to a press release from the Chancellor’s Office.

Maybe Charlie Reed is equally astonished that he was awarded for his leadership.

Stephanie Bell-Rose the head of the TIAA-CREF Institute cited Reed for his “remarkable, collaborative leadership styles reinforce the need to build bridges both within an institution and throughout the surrounding community.”

I am not exactly sure with whom they consulted in making this award, but faculty surely were not in the mix. Everything that I have learned about the Chancellor in my five years working in the CSU suggests that his lack of collaboration has failed to build bridges, at least bridges with the faculty and students (two groups often thought to be important in a university).

Indeed, much of this blog has focused on his shortcomings as a leader in an educational institution.

Reed’s inability to deal respectfully and forthrightly with faculty is well documented. The California Faculty Association is headed toward a strike vote that would be completely unnecessary if the Chancellor had vision and leadership skills.

His lack of  “concern” for students is illustrated by his treatment of students at a Board of Trustees meeting and repeated tuition and fee increases while failing to address problems of administrative bloat in the CSU. How is it that a university can spend only 35% of its budget on direct instruction and get away with it?

The one thing the Chancellor has been truly good at is advocating (often overly vehemently) for pay increases for campus presidents. Ultimately he got what he wanted: The beginnings of a series of pay increases for his campus presidents (that will ultimately result in a raise for himself–just as his golden parachute opens).

Failure is success. Frankly, it is almost Orwellian.

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Limiting CSU Presidents’ Pay: Proposed SB 755

News comes today of SB 755. Sponsored by Senator Ted Lieu the proposal would cap CSU Campus Presidents’ pay at 150% of the salary of a California State Supreme Court Justice.  If the proposal passed today a CSU President would be entitled to a top salary of $343,269. Pay increases for campus presidents could not occur until three years after a tuition increase, and must occur during an open session of the Board of Trustees.

I support limiting the salaries of top executives in the CSU. I am pleased to see our legislators begin to take this issue seriously.

A few things occur to me about the proposed legislation based on the Senator’s description (I have not seen the text of the legislation).

  • Why link salaries to State Supreme Court Justices? It seems to me that a Campus President’s salary should be linked to some feature of his or her campus. As I argued months ago, linking presidents’ salaries to a measure of faculty salary would set a salary cap at a reasonable level and minimize the soaring inequality between faculty salaries and presidential salaries.
  • Salary versus Total Compensation. There is a difference between salary and total compensation. Currently CSU Campus Presidents are salaried and receive an allowance for housing and for a car. In addition to their benefits (e.g. health and dental insurance) their average total compensation already exceeds $300,000. It seems to me that the cap should be on total compensation; otherwise the Board can simply provide additional “benefits” to skirt the pay cap.
  • Limit the Chancellor’s Salary Too. According to the proposal as described, the CSU Chancellor’s salary would be exempted. The limitation only applies to a president who governs a single campus; this does not apply to the Chancellor.
  • Beware Fee Increases. The proposed three year ban on increases should include increases in tuition and fees. A creative Board and Chancellor could skirt the spirit of the law by increasing student costs by increasing only fees and ignoring tuition.

I commend Senator Lieu for his leadership on this issue. I hope we will see legislation this year that addresses this crucial issue.

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Why Students and Faculty Rebel

The CSU Board of Trustees recently cancelled their December meeting. At the December meeting the Board was expected to consider recommendations regarding executive [read: campus presidents’] compensation. CSU Chancellor Charlie Reed and the Board approved large increases for campus presidents at San Diego State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo over the summer, and since then the Chancellor has been on a crusade to increase compensation for his other campus presidents.

At a Board meeting in November–during which the Board increased tuition once again–some attendees became unruly causing the Board to close the meeting, and voting for the tuition increase behind closed doors. In a letter distributed to CSU campuses the Chancellor claimed that:

…the protests became disruptive and resulted in personal injury to three California State University police officers and the arrest of four individuals. The glass entrance doors to the Chancellor’s Office were shattered. The damage to our building is estimated at $30,000.

His rant continued:

…demonstrations that turn disruptive and result in damage and injury are intolerable. The disrespect shown by several protestors was inexcusable.

The one issue that the Chancellor never seems to consider is this: Why? Why did the students turn to disruptive tactics? Why did the faculty choose to participate in a one day strike on November 17th, which he also referred to as a “disruption?”

Why people rebel has been the focus of students of politics for millenia. What students of rebellion agree on is this: Rebellion is not the first option of individuals; it is the last choice of people who feel that their grievances are not being taken seriously by political leaders.

Individuals are not likely to risk personal injury or arrest to promote collective interests except under the most dire of circumstances. The men who wrote the Declaration of Independence understood that much:

…all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Rebellion, revolution, protest, strikes: These are the last, desperate actions of individuals who are being ignored. It is not “hippies” and “troublemakers,” not “a few bad apples.”

Until the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees understand that protests and strikes are a symptom of a deeper dis-ease within the CSU, protests and strikes will continue to flare and even intensify. They will not become less destructive they will become more destructive.

Chancellor Reed, Trustee Hauck: Do not try to explain them away. That is not what effective leaders do.

Even the most casual student of American history knows that the Boston Tea Party–which was “disruptive” and led to “damage”–ended in the American Revolution. Why? Because King George failed to listen; he failed to hear and respond to the many, many grievances of the Colonials.

Repression also, ultimately, fails. Whether it is pepper spray or bullets and bombs, people rebel and win. Ask dictators like Mubarak, Gaddafhi, the Shah of Iran. Ask resistance leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr..

Chancellor Reed: CSU students, CSU faculty, CSU staff, the people of California are asking you, they are begging you to listen. You ignore their pleas at the great peril of the CSU.

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A Bottomless Pit of Idiocy

Oh it just could not last, could it? On Tuesday I posted a list of my top 10 favorite albums of all time. It was an attempt to divorce myself from the idiocy of the CSU leadership.

I tried.

But now comes this: More maneuvering by the Chancellor’s Office to raise the pay of campus presidents. The “leadership” is proposing some potential ideas for paying for the pay increases that the Chancellor so desperately wants for his presidents.

Among the ideas proposed are a 1 percent surcharge on such services as housing and parking, creating a fund where donors could chip in, and offering a CSU credit card for alumni in which a percentage of charges would go to presidential salaries.

In order to pay presidents more the Chancellor thinks it might be a good idea to charge faculty and students more for parking, and students more for housing (increases over and above the tuition increase he and the Board of Trustees just imposed). Perhaps that was what was behind his last offer to faculty in collective bargaining to remove the negotiated cap on the cost of faculty parking: “Let’s charge the faculty more for parking so that we can pay presidents!”

Why is it that the leadership cannot find a similar elan for finding ways to find funding to support academics, and raise the pay of staff and faculty? Well that is easily explained says CSU Spokesperson Claudia Keith:

Asked why these methods would be considered for executive pay but not for shoring up CSU’s cash-strapped academic program, Keith said it was less expensive to bolster the presidents than the entire faculty.
I explained this very logic in an earlier post. As I explained:

This is how administrator salaries rise incrementally. No single increase will break the system. No single act of holding the line will solve the problem. And so we can “afford” the increase! Brilliant.

More like a bottomless pit of idiocy.

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The Tragedy of the Chancellor’s Vision for the CSU

Outsourcing. It is ubiquitous in the private sector. Low skill jobs are shipped to low wage countries to increase the bottom line for corporations.

Outsourcing is also common in the public sector. For decades proponents of outsourcing government services argued that it is a more efficient use of public funds; pay private companies to provide the services that are typically delivered by governments. They believe that the private sector can deliver similar services for a lower cost and at a higher quality.

Critics of outsourcing argue that the promised savings are illusory; the proponents of outsourcing government services have a stronger ideological argument than an empirical argument. Where is the evidence, they ask, that supports the contention that government gets more for its money by outsourcing services?

Now we have an answer. And it is not good for proponents of outsourcing.

According to a long-awaited new study by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) the “savings often promised in connection with outsourcing services are not being realized.” According to the study governments are negotiating competitive prices for services–government is paying market prices for services–but those same services are not cheaper than if the work was done by “in-house” government workers.

The government pays contractors 1.83 times more than it pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than twice the total compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services.

In short, government is paying more for work by private sector employees because they receive better compensation than their public sector counterparts.

Why bother making note of this study on this blog? The direction that CSU Chancellor Charlie Reed and the CSU Board of Trustees is taking our university is toward a model that relies heavily on outsourced services. A large portion of the faculty in the CSU, over half, are low wage, part-time, non-benefit eligible workers. That part of the model is well -established and well-understood.

The next step in the Chancellor’s plan is to outsource the content of courses. Typically faculty determine course content and evaluate students.

In the Chancellor’s new and improved vision private companies like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, will create on-line course content for delivery by an interchangeable workforce of low-wage delivery units. These instructors need not have any particular qualifications–like Doctoral or other terminal degrees–experience, or any particular expertise. The CSU will simply contract with the “content provider” and assign an instructor to “deliver” the content. Because the course is delivered on-line the instructor need not live in California, or even the U.S.; instructors could be drawn from India, China, Vietnam, or anywhere that labor is offered at the cheapest cost.

Forgetting the obvious question for the moment (is this the best way to educate college students?), the POGO study promises that the savings envisioned by the Chancellor and the Board will not be realized. Profit is the primary motive for private companies like Pearson and McGraw-Hill. The “content services” offered by these companies will cost more than advertised.

Furthermore, once the CSU system is locked in to a small number of service providers they will inevitably increase their content delivery fees incrementally to maximize their profits. Think about your cable bill, for instance. Has your cable company ever decreased your bill? No. But they have incrementally increased it, and over the course of years you are paying much more than you did when you first signed on, right?

The Chancellor and the Board have bought into a myth. It would not be so tragic if the implications of this new delivery model were not so grave. We are talking about the education of our future workforce, and the decline of the California State University, the largest and most successful educational enterprise that the United States has ever seen.

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Take a Flying *@#! at the Moon

It seems that the prevailing philosophy in the Chancellor’s Office–and by extension in his Board of Trustees–is that the CSU should be “run like a business.” This is a refrain often repeated over the last few decades when it comes to government.

As suspect as the idea that government be “run like a business” is, about now I wish the Chancellor was thinking of running the CSU like a business.

According to a recent survey, employees in the private sector should be looking forward to some modest pay raises:

After increasing salaries by 2.6 percent this year [2011] and last year, companies are planning a 2.8 percent bump in 2012, benefits and human resources consultancy Towers Watson reported Monday.

The California Faculty Association is currently bargaining with the Chancellor for a three year contract with faculty. CFA has proposed a 1% pay increase in the first year of the contract. It is a modest proposal–given the state’s financial difficulties–and a fraction of what private sector employees will see in the coming year.

The offer that is on the table from the Chancellor is a ZERO percent increase for year one of the contract. During years two and three the Chancellor wants language to reopen the wage and benefit clauses of the contract. One can only interpret this as a signal that wages and benefits would likely be CUT in the last two years of the contract.

This is the Chancellor’s offer at the same time that the Chancellor is lobbying the Board of Trustees to increase the pay of the campus presidents by as much as 25%.

At least in the private sector the near-pornographic pay raises for CEOs are coupled with modest pay raises for their employees. The Chancellor’s message to his faculty, to his workforce? “Take a flying *@#! at the Moon.”

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