Faculty, students to CSU Trustees: Awards, accolades don’t pay the bills

Award-winning faculty and three of their students converged on the CSU Trustees’ meeting Tuesday to urge Chancellor White and his administration to pay faculty fair salaries.

Stagnant CSU salaries that lag far behind that of the University of California and other education segments—in addition to failing to keep up with cost of living—place growing obstacles in the way of faculty who are trying to keep their celebrated teaching programs and methods alive.

While all who spoke told of a love for teaching, they also said they are finding it increasingly difficult to rely on their CSU salary alone, and the increasing demands are taking a toll on them, their families and their students.

“People can tell I love my work, and my productivity demonstrates that love… (Yet,) it’s hard to justify to my family why I invest up to 60 hours a week to help my students and contribute to the advancement of the CSU’s mission.  And, I’m not the only one.  Today’s CSU faculty are tremendously overworked and underappreciated,” said Matthew Jendian, who chairs the sociology department at Fresno State.

Jendian has received numerous accolades while at Fresno State, including the 2014 “Trailblazer for Prosperity” Award and 2012 President’s Award of Excellence.

Donna Andrews, an education professor at CSU Stanislaus and 2014 Outstanding Professor for Service Learning recipient, said she feels undervalued, despite 21 years of secondary teaching experience and 13 years in higher ed.

“When these new public school teachers make more than I do, they very reasonably ask me why they should become a university professor,” she said. “It seems that CSU management’s policy contributes to a shrinking pool of college professors.”

Veronica Chavez, one of Andrews’ former students, attributes much of her success as a respected K-12 teacher to the partnership she developed with faculty like Andrews and their positive influence on her life personally and professionally.

“I was a high school drop out, I was a teenage mom and I was involved in gangs. I was the epitome of an at-risk student, but it’s these professors that inspired my life and changed it,” Chavez said, later adding that contract issues involving faculty pay is disconcerting to her. “I worry about the future and the future of the students in our K-12 system. Professor like Dr. Andrews and others deserve compensation and they need to be compensated for their professional work. Without them, I don’t think this education system can continue.”

The California Faculty Association and CSU management are at impasse regarding salary in year two of the faculty contract. Both sides are currently in mediation. Click here to read the latest bargaining update.

For more perspectives from some of many of the CSU’s award-winning faculty, click here.