Friday, May 08, 2009

California's public universities go to the deep pocket

SACRAMENTO, Calif. USA - That California's two major university systems have voted in recent weeks to raise student tuition for next year at all of their campuses should not be a surprise to the public or students or university faculty. Especially university faculty.

While both systems have been dealing with declining revenues from the state year after year, neither has made any secret that they would be looking to the students to keep the funds flowing, and budgets nicely topped off.

In the CSU, its trustees have adopted long term plans to raise fees - and also raise administrative salaries so as to be competitive. Those plans started back in the mid 1990s with former Chancellor Barry Munitz, who in 1997 went on to fame with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Barry Munitz
Barry Munitz

It might be more accurate to refer to Munitz's time with the Getty as infamous, as the link below explains.

  • What happened, Barry?

  • I won't bother to revisit all the baloney thrown out by both university systems about the need to hike administrative salaries so they systems can be competitive. I'm not sure even the CSU Trustees or the UC Regents really believe that hogwash.

    But students ! Ah, the students are ideal onto which to push the burden. They are not organized politically. They have relatively short time at each institution. And for the most part they are busy doing what they went to college for - racking up units to get a degree.

    And those few students who do decide to ask questions and get vocal either find themselves in hot water (politically) on their campuses - or get co-opted by their respective administrations. Watch most student government meetings and you get the eerie sense that the students have been coached - and not by a faculty member.

    But non-university critics of the two systems, who routinely argue that the universities are profligate in their spending, miss one major point.

    The systems do spend waaaaaay too much on administration. (And also love to create new administrative positions to fill with overpaid staff.) But as a percentage of their total budgets, it's not as startling as it might seem on the surface. Much more important is that the two systems are slowly killing their academic programs through starvation.

    And the regents and trustees don't really care.

    It much more fun to encourage the universities to divert funds to things like marketing and public relations (and maybe sports). Finding funds for more classes for students is infinitely less amusing.

    The major objective of CSU Trustees - and UC Regents - would seem to be to ensure well-paid administrations and to be obnoxiously supportive of their campus presidents, chancellors and top staff.

    "Students? Who are students?" they might ask, if ever pressed.

    When CSU Sacramento faculty held a vote of no-confidence in the leadership abilities of CSU, Sacramento President Alexander Gonzalez several years ago (which was a landslide against him) the CSU Trustees went out of their way to ignore all the fiscal issues raised.

    Alexander Gonzalez

    But the trustees have continued to keep raising students fees at about 10 percent per year- and will continue to do so.

    How else will they have the money to keep their 23-campus administrations happy?

    Oops! I meant to say competitive.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment