The California State University Board of Trustees settled on a 10 percent salary reduction for newly-appointed Chancellor Timothy White in a meeting Wednesday.
White’s salary was set to equal former Chancellor Charles Reed’s $421,000 with a $30,000 supplement, but in an unexpected letter, White opted for a 10 percent reduction, or $380,000, with the additional $30,000 still in tow.
White said in the letter that he hoped his action would communicate his desire to “contribute to the rebuilding of this great university.“Despite the passage of Proposition 30, there remain grave economic issues to solve in the California and the California State University… As I join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes, and increased fees, I too must do my part,” White said in the letter.
Some trustees strongly supported White’s request for a downsized salary in agreement that all should share the burden of an aching budget.
Other trustees dissented with the opinion that the demanding position of chancellor is already unbalanced with the meager level of compensation.
“What we originally offered to Chancellor-Elect White was the right level of compensation. The same level that what our current chancellor is making,” said trustee William Hauck. “It’s clear that the chancellor of this system is substantially underpaid.”
On the other side of the room, trustee Henry Mendoza expressed optimism about White’s move to feel the same pain as students, faculty and staff who have only seen funding for their respective programs recede.
“I honor him for doing that. He’s trying to come in and create some harmony and show that this won’t be an issue when he comes through the door,” said Mendoza.
Proposition 30, a state measure passed last week that prevented a $250 million cut to California public schools, was lauded by all who offered public statements on both days of the proceedings.
While it passed with an edged majority in California, the trustees voiced that it is not enough to hold down the cost of tuition they would like.
“We have dodged a 250 million-caliber bullet,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor Robert Turnage, who reported for the CSU finance committee. “But we also need to be sober in our understanding about what our budget reality still is. I would say Proposition 30 has stabilized the patient.”
Turnage used “patient” as a metaphor for the CSU, which is still recovering from the wounds inflicted by surging costs of tuition and fees that have crippled the system to historic lows.
The committee requested an additional $371.9 million to the normal budget to assist in increased enrollment, improved maintenance and supplementing faculty salaries.
Turnage emphasized the areas of the CSU budget that have been neglected during the budget crunch.
“Proposition 30 now presents us the opportunity for how much the state is willing to begin to help us recover and serve students,” Turnage said.
He specifically noted the necessary upkeep of outdated buildings at various CSU schools. In addition, he said the money would be used for the possibility of increased compensation for faculty and staff, which has been in stasis for the last four to five years.
“If we’re going to have a real future as a university, we need to begin reinvesting,” Turnage said.
He said he believes the proposal is a reasonable balance between the needs of the college system and the fiscal concerns of the state government.
The extra money would bring annual spending for the CSU to $4.5 billion, $69.9 million of which would come from increased student enrollment of an additional 20,000 students.
Reed, who has served the CSU for over 14 years, attended his 101st, and last, Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, which ended in three standing ovations for him and his staff.
Amid criticism from students and the general public, those surveyed who worked with him expressed a sense of gratitude and admiration for his leadership and resilience in the face of trigger cuts.
“I think that Chancellor Reed had some major issues he had to deal with in his 15 years. He kept the system moving forward, always with an eye on what was best for students,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Linscheid.
“Chancellor White comes as a product of the (California) community college, CSU and University of California. He brings a very special background. I’m eager to work with him,” he said.