Friday, July 28, 2006

The CSU Administration: pigs at the trough

An editorial from the Sacrmento Bee. Another indication of the failure of Bill Hauk to provide leadership in the CSU.
This story is taken from Opinion at sacbee.com.

Editorial: Auditing the academy

Time to get answers in CSU pay mess

Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, July 28, 2006

Pay arrangements in a public university system are supposed to serve the state's interest in strong academic institutions, not the personal financial interests of administrators. That may seem obvious, but unfortunately it isn't always the case in California.
After revealing out-of-control administrative compensation schemes in the University of California system, the San Francisco Chronicle now has found outrageous administrative pay arrangements in the California State University system.

These arrangements include big, unwarranted payouts for people who are doing little if anything for the university system. Millions of dollars have been handed out to administrators after they have left their jobs in the CSU system -- without public disclosure by the chancellor and the university's board of trustees. This practice needs to be investigated, fully exposed and fixed.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez has called for a legislative audit of the CSU compensation practices. But the audit should look beyond the handful of administrators getting enormous payouts for who knows what. The larger issue is bureaucratic bloat and excessive compensation to administrators overall -- particularly at a time when the CSU system has scaled back academic programs in the face of budget cuts and increased student tuition and fees by 76 percent over the past three years.

Certainly, the starting point for an audit has to be the Chronicle's revelations of some administrators getting "transition pay," continued pay after they have left CSU, and others getting "special assignments" with no required work product.

Here's one example: David S. Spence, a deputy to CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, took a job in Atlanta a year ago but has remained on the CSU payroll with a $173,952 annual salary. The Chronicle reported that he agreed to do some consulting for the chancellor.

Here's another example from the Chronicle: Manuel A. Esteban retired as president at CSU Chico in 2003. He remained on the payroll for two years -- with a transitional leave and a special project -- though he was also collecting early retirement benefits. He was paid a total of $301,959 for the two-year period.

Such examples reveal a public university system emulating the worst excesses of executive compensation in the private sector. This is symptomatic of the ever-expanding growth of central administration bureaucracies at the expense of the academic mission of our public universities. It is yet another example of lack of accountability and a weak governing board structure.

Remedying this situation will require more than a one-time legislative audit. The CSU system needs better scrutiny of the central administration's finances -- detailed salary information by individual administrative positions on an annual basis.

With the CSU system, as with the University of California, the responsibility lies with the institution's governing body. CSU's 25-member board of trustees has proved to be utterly ineffectual in overseeing administrative compensation.

The system's trustees need to get control of the bureaucratic bloat, and answers to some basic questions.

How many employed in the CSU system are directly engaged in educating -- and how many are administering or assisting those administering? What is the gap between administrative salaries and perks and faculty compensation? What does it say that administrative salaries have become so much higher than faculty salaries that few administrators want to return to teaching after doing an administrative stint?

The only way to contain out-of-control administrative costs is to make the cost of administration public -- and hold the system's trustees accountable for how the system operates. A wide-ranging audit is an essential step toward that accountability.


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