Pay raises, in bad taste

While the California State University system’s Administrative Council was discussing the effect another round of state budget cuts would have on the system-and facing demonstrations about an education that has become increasingly expensive for students-pay raises for three new system presidents were approved.

We do recognize that a good professional with the responsibility of managing a large university must be paid well. However, we think this is the worst time, symbolically and morally, to give any raises to the top leaders of this educational system.

The excuse is that the money for the raises is coming from a private foundation. The reason, they say, is that only money can buy the talent needed to manage the educational system. They should tell that to the professors, whose salaries have been frozen, and to the students, the workforce and professionals of the future, who can no longer afford their education, which is getting increasingly out of reach. Or does this saying only apply to university president. The raise the three presidents received, including Mildred Garcia of Cal State Fullerton and Leroy Morishita of Cal State East Bay, was 10%, which puts them at a salary level of $324,500 and $303,660. And that is not the only thing they are getting: there is a car allowance and a good benefits package.

Maybe it would have been better to wait until the current crisis is resolved. This type of decisions annoys California’s voters. Based on the negative comments readers have made on the press reports about this issue, this is obviously not helping Governor Jerry Brown’s goal to get a tax increase approved in November in order to tackle the state’s budget deficit. Sometimes it is more important to act symbolically, but morally, and generate trust among citizens and students, who are being asked to make more and more sacrifices in hard times.