CSU Trustees and executives continue to demonstrate how disconnected they are from students, faculty, and staff by dolling out more exorbitant raises to university presidents and approving modest changes to extravagant executive perks.

Two students with masks stand with signs outdoors.
CSU students attend the November Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach.

At the November 15 trustees meeting, students, faculty, and staff provided public comment detailing unsanitary learning and working conditions on some campuses, illnesses and discrimination people are suffering via contractor Aramark food services, the great need for equitable salary increases, and the damage of contracting out mental health services.

Instead of addressing any of these issues, the next day, trustees approved three major salary increases for presidents.

This just months after providing massive raises for most campus presidents and executives, which ranged from $23,696 to $106,227 per year, or 7 to 27 percent of pay.

At their November 16 meeting, trustees hired a new president for San José State. Cynthia Teniente-Matson will begin her new position January 16 and receive $474,840 in salary, $1,000 a month in car allowance, and university-paid housing. Teniente-Matson’s salary is a 10-percent increase over interim President Stephen Perez, and an 18-percent increase over most-recent president Mary Papazian who resigned in October 2021 after mishandling Title IX complaints on campus.

After a mere four months on the job, Sonoma State Interim President Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee also received a salary bump at the November 16 trustees meeting. His raise is retroactive to August 1 and will go from $324,052 to $381,409. Lee is replacing Judy Sakaki who resigned this summer following a sexual harassment and retaliation scandal linked to her husband.

And finally, after announcing his retirement at the end of this academic year, trustees approved an $89,000 pay bump for Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen. Billed as a triennial performance review for 2021 and 2022, the 17-percent pay increase and other executive increases are an appalling afront to the students, faculty, and staff who struggle to cover tuition and inflation, and find affordable housing and childcare.

Trustees also passed modest changes to executive consulting and retreat rights. After presidents, chancellors, and other executives leave their positions, they receive one- or two-years’ worth of salary for “executive consulting.” Trustees considered requiring these contract perks come to the full board of trustees for approval, but in the end voted to allow the chancellor and chair to approve.

Trustees – except Douglas Faigin and Anna Ortiz-Morfit – voted in favor of less executive contract transparency.

Former chancellors Timothy White and Joseph Castro are still on the CSU payroll as consultants; both approved a settlement to cover up mishandling of Title IX cases at Fresno State with Castro resigning in disgrace from the scandal. On retreat rights, trustees made a minor amendment to administrators’ rights to retreat to faculty positions. The change allows CSU management to place an administrator or former administrator on paid leave if there’s a pending investigation that could result in a finding against them, making them ineligible to retreat back to instruction.

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