Salaries Responsible for Budget GapExcessive Administrative Compensation Packages Demand Stricter State Oversight
Monday, May 10, 2010
Category: Opinion > Op-Eds
While corruption can be found in all three of California's public higher education systems, the University of California can add this as another area in which it is No. 1-at least according to the California state auditor's office.
The amount of the University budget gap is half of the $1 billion or so the University doles out to its 3,650 employees who earn $200,000 a year or more. To put this in perspective, that means for each UC campus 365 people earn more than 96 percent of Californians. It also means that the "severe financial challenges," as the UC Office of the President likes to call its budget problems, are as much a product of Oakland as Sacramento.
Arguments about being competitive are as bankrupt as the UC professes to be. By selectivity, the UC Riverside's business school ranks below San Diego State's and just above Cal State San Bernardino's. Yet the $370,000 salary of the UCR business school dean is more than what the president of either campus makes. It is hundreds of thousands more than what these schools' business deans make. But we can always take President Yudof's word for it that his people are underpaid, as he claimed in his speech to the Regents in support of the fee increase...
Or we can take that of the state auditor, which released a scathing report, "University of California: Stricter Oversight and Greater Transparency are Needed to Improve Its Compensation Practices." We could also accept President Yudof's further claim that executives are not receiving pay increases were it not that the minutes from the Board of Regents meeting on July 16 show that among the executives getting perks was Mark Yudof himself!
An anachronistic constitutional amendment makes the UC autonomous of the state while giving it the benefits - public money, public land - that come with being a part of the state. As a result, it is one of five public universities without oversight and easily, the least accountable. Logic would suggest repealing that amendment. That is what Senator Leland Yee sought to do when he introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment 21. "They are a state institution, a public institution. But because of the way the constitution is structured, it gives them that independence
(from oversight)," Lee told the Bay Area's own KTVU.
To be sure, legislative oversight comes with its own set of problems, the most obvious of which is a dysfunctional legislature. To this, there are no quick retorts except to note that the legislature wouldn't be running the UC. Far from usurping day-to-day operations, legislators would have power to veto fee and pay increases and investigate scandals, such as that involving current UC Berkeley administrator Linda Williams last year, where school officials admitted to misleading the public about her severance package, when she swapped one UC job for another.
The CSU and Community College systems already have oversight. Certainly, the (relative) absence of graft in these systems - by the state auditor's reckoning - is reason enough to give Yee's proposal thought. Something, after all, is undoubtedly rotten in Oakland when a university spends only $3 billion a year on instruction, out of a $20 billion budget.
You would think it was just a simple case of greed and dishonesty, but President Yudof's ... lapses ... of memory and blatant disregard of the facts is getting to the point of being almost scary. Dishonesty or insanity I know not, but when Mark Yudof starts pontificating, as he did at the fee increase vote, that, "These recommendations for the fee increase are painful, but as a leader it is important for me to be truthful and direct," you have to start wondering if the Freudians in the house aren't thinking "Hometown Buffet," or whatever it is they think when they see someone who is either an über-hypocrite or an obvious whack job.
Mark Yudof is right on one point. "There's a lot of disinformation out there," as he said. He would know. Most of it comes from him.
Travis Donselman is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the CSU over fee increases. Reply to [email protected]
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