Saying that compensation for the executives in the Cal State system lags behind that at comparable institutions, the California State University trustees approved pay hikes Tuesday for Chancellor Timothy P. White, 23 campus presidents and other top officials.

The executives will receive 2% increases retroactive to July 1, paid from a $65-million employee compensation pool included in the 2015-16 state-funded budget.

With the increase, White’s annual salary will rise to $430,746 from $422,300. That includes a $30,000 annual supplement from a university private foundation.

Compensation for San Diego State’s Elliot Hirshman, the campuses’ top-paid president, will be boosted to $420,240 from $412,000; that includes a $50,000 annual supplement from a campus foundation.

Officials said that all Cal State employees across the system — faculty and staff — are underpaid compared with their peers at other institutions, but that the discrepancies are especially acute for executives, with a 25% lag behind market rates.

“Recruitment and retention of high-quality leaders, faculty and staff … is critical to the overall success of students and the system,” White said at the trustees meeting in Long Beach.

Trustee Silas H. Abrego expressed concern that the pay hikes are one of the board’s first actions following a successful campaign to win $216.6 million in additional funding from the state — particularly because the system had argued for the money to enroll more students.

White noted that the same 2% compensation increase has been approved for all employees. The cost of the executive increase amounts to about $187,299, he said.

Many faculty, though, said that the focus on executive pay is misplaced. A recent report by the California Faculty Assn. found that since 2004, average pay for campus presidents had increased 44% compared with just 8% for faculty over the same period.

The group is negotiating a new contract.

“CSU presidents don’t teach classes and they’re not in direct contact with students, that’s a consistent problem,” said faculty group President Jennifer Eagan, a professor at Cal State East Bay. “The CSU is running on a model that fails to prioritize our mission to teach students above all else.”

Top executives received a 3% pay hike in 2014-15. Those were the first across-the-board increases since 2007, officials said.

Besides their state-funded salary, White and six campus presidents also receive supplemental compensation from private campus foundations. The 2014-15 pay hikes were controversial because they were calculated on this total compensation — which is being paid for with state funds.

The 2% hike also will be based on total compensation, and executives hired after July 1 would also receive the pay increase effective on their hire date.

White said he intends to more broadly address the issue of compensation, including looking at new ways to compare market rates for various employee groups and establishing new benchmarks that could include job responsibilities, campus size, cost of living and other geographic differences.

Meanwhile, Cal State is still finalizing spending priorities, including campus-by-campus enrollment goals, officials said.

Besides $216.6 million in state money, the system will receive about $52.4 million in net student tuition fee revenue. About $103.2 million will be used to increase enrollment by about 12,000 students for spring 2016 and the following fall.

An additional $38 million will go toward hiring more full-time faculty, counselors and other staff as well as supporting programs aimed at shortening the time to graduate, especially for first-time freshmen and those who need more preparation for college-level work.

Cal State will use about $25 million in one-time funding for urgent maintenance and $14 million to upgrade technology systems.


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