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.