California State University trustees will consider freezing state-funded pay for new campus presidents next week but with a catch: raises could still come from foundation accounts.
CSU trustees have come under fire in recent months for giving raises to newly hired presidents as state funding has shrunk and fees have soared, particularly last year when it granted the new San Diego State University president a $100,000 raise from $300,000 to $400,000.
In January, the board agreed to limit raises to campus presidents to 10% percent above what the outgoing leader made.
But the 23-campus system has continued to face pressure from state leaders and employee unions, who have demanded more action. Faculty members, currently in a contract dispute over several issues, are voting on whether to authorize a strike later this year, with results of the vote due Wednesday.
The new proposal would freeze use of state funds for pay hikes until 2014 while allowing campuses to tap foundation money to give more when "deemed necessary to retain the best leader." University foundations raise money in a variety of ways, ranging from donations to campus bookstores. It is unclear whether there is any limit to the amount of raise that a foundation could provide.
The plan comes as the CSU system could face seven vacancies to fill in the next year, according to CSU spokeswoman Claudia Keith.
Despite having changed the policy in January, "some of the board members were expressing that they wanted to look at the policy once again," Keith said. "So they started thinking about so many of the presidential vacancies and hiring coming up, and this seems thoughtful and reasonable."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson "welcomes" the change after calling for a pay freeze earlier this month, said his spokesman Paul Hefner.
But Adam Keigwin, chief of staff for Sen. Leland Yee, a CSU critic, called it a "terrible idea."
"Executives making hundreds of thousands of dollars should not be getting double digit pay hikes during tough economic times," Keigwin said in an e-mail. "Dollars from foundations should be going to provide scholarships and assist students, not to line the pockets of administrators."
Post updated at 3:05 p.m. because of conflicting information on whether there is a limit on foundation-funded pay hikes under the proposal.