Race to the Bottom Paper 2
Salary, Staffing Priorities and the CSU's 1%

Executive Summary

The first paper in this series, “Race to the Bottom: CSU’s 10-Year Failure to Fund Its Core Mission,” examined faculty salaries over the last decade and the dramatic drop in purchasing power that has occurred for faculty at all 23 California State University campuses.

As we demonstrated, those trends cannot be explained by simply pointing to external factors; rather, they are the result of administrative choices based on administrative priorities. Other administrators at comparable universities throughout the country, as well as at other public colleges and universities in California, made different choices in similarly tough circumstances and did a much better job of improving faculty salaries, or at least protecting their purchasing power.

The findings of the first paper raise an obvious question: “What has the CSU administration prioritized?” To help answer that question, we analyzed data on several key trends related to staffing and salary for CSU administrators and faculty.

The title of this paper bluntly forecasts our conclusions: over at least the last decade, CSU administrators, like many corporate executives, have consistently and vigorously prioritized those at the top of the organizational hierarchy, while others in the CSU have been left to languish. At the same time that faculty salaries have plummeted in terms of purchasing power and student fees and student debt have skyrocketed, those at the top have done very well.