CSU Board of Trustees Meeting Day Two Recap: Executive Pay and Tenure Track Hiring, Security Measures and Land Acknowledgment on the Dockett

While the first day of last week’s two-day CSU Board of Trustees Meeting focused largely on the trustees’ proposal to require incoming applicants to take an additional course in quantitative reasoning to qualify for admission to the CSU, day two took on a different flavor with the issues of executive pay and the budget in the spotlight. CFA members were present to comment on tenure track hiring, new “enhanced” (read excessive) security measures at the Chancellor’s Office and CFA’s Indigenous Peoples Caucus land acknowledgement resolution.

Massive Salary and Benefits Increases for Executives
On the matter of executive pay, the trustees heard a follow up report from outside consultants, Sibson Consulting, which expands on their July 2018 report that claimed CSU presidents are woefully underpaid. The presentation included recommendations for large increases to salaries, benefits, and perks for the executives, who are already among the highest paid public employees in the state. The consultants argued that for the CSU to remain competitive in its recruitment of qualified individuals for executive level roles, substantial increases to salaries and benefits must be enacted immediately. Some recommendations were for eye-popping increases, up to $200,000 in one case.

“There is scarcely a board meeting that goes by when the trustees don’t talk about increasing executive pay,” said Jennifer Eagan, CFA’s Political Action and Legislative Committee Chair. “Students and faculty keep waiting for them to talk seriously about rolling back student fees, increasing the number of tenure track faculty, and retaining high quality faculty. There are dozens of urgent issues that demand their attention…issues that really matter to students’ education and their experience in the classroom, but executive compensation is what dominates.”

During the meeting, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, both of whom serve as Ex Officio Trustees, voiced serious concerns over the study and its recommendations. Kounalakis challenged the need for an umbrella policy that would automatically raise all salaries and asked why the study did not take into account the compensation differentials for all CSU employee groups. Meanwhile, Rendon assured the board that the Legislature would certainly not be receptive to the types of salary increases described in the Sibson report.

Many trustees pushed back, as they did last year, about the methodology, choices of peer institutions, and the omission of the $50-$60,000 housing allowances that the presidents receive. Trustee Douglas Faigin seemed baffled by the proposal when he raised questions about the implications for upcoming bargaining, commenting, “What kind of reaction are we going to get in the public view? What kind of reaction are we going to get when we go to collective bargaining with our unions who want relatively small increases and they look at this and say, ‘my gosh’?” What kind of reaction are we going to get from the legislature when we ask for these increases?”

Action on this matter is likely to be taken during the November trustees meeting.

Tenure Track Hiring, New Security Measures, and Land Acknowledgment
With the trustees discussing the 2019-20 budget last week, CFA took the opportunity to draw attention to the $35 million in new funding we secured in the current year budget for the express purpose of new tenure track faculty hiring. CFA Vice President Kevin Wehr reminded them that faculty are still waiting for evidence that the Chancellor’s Office will spend this money as intended and are expecting transparency regarding these funds. The budgetary earmark should result in at least 280 additional faculty hires, beyond what was already planned.

CFA members also called on the board to reconsider their new, exaggerated security measures, which included metal detectors, security dogs and armed guards. All meeting participants were required to proceed through the excessive security checkpoint multiple times, except, of course, the trustees and Chancellor’s Office employees.

In addressing the full board, Wehr described these measures as something more akin to “security theatre,” aimed at symbolically keeping people out. He argued, “The building of walls to keep people out has been a dominant theme in conversations across the country for far too long and it’s unacceptable that it would extend to the people’s university and the students we serve.”

Finally, Craig Stone, professor at CSU Long Beach and member of CFA’s Indigenous Peoples Caucus renewed CFA’s call for Chancellor White and the Board to coordinate with California tribes on a plan for acknowledging the tribal lands on which every CSU trustees meeting as well as all campus convocations, graduations, and cultural events take place.