To hear California university administrators tell it, times are tough all over.
Pleading incipient poverty, the University of California is seeking to raise tuition 5 percent a year for five years, and some California state universities, including the one in San Diego, have already imposed a new "student success fee," maxing out at $200 a semester.
In a written statement, SDSU president Elliot Hirshman said the fee, hastily imposed this past spring, “stems from limited resources," according to a March 15 report in U-T San Diego.
"He also said the university will establish a hardship fund for the coming year to ensure that 'no student has to leave San Diego State due to increased fees,'" the story added.
"The president was in Las Vegas attending the Mountain West basketball tournament and was not available for comment."
One California State University resource that appears to be relatively plentiful is money for administrator salaries, including a tidy pending raise for Hirshman.
Next week, according to a university trustees agenda for the meeting of November 12 and 13, Hirshman is set to get a $12,000 boost to his already handsome yearly taxpayer-furnished pay of $350,000, which is supplemented by an annual $50,000 from "foundation sources," bringing his new combined salary to $412,000.
"This will be the first salary increase for executive positions since July 2007," explains a memo to the board from chairman Lou Monville, chancellor Timothy White, and vice chancellor for human resources Lori Lamb.
"Executive positions include the chancellor, presidents, executive vice chancellors, and vice chancellors. Last year when the university funded a modest compensation pool of 1.34 percent for faculty and staff, it was not extended to executive positions….
"The base salary adjustments for the individuals listed below are recommended for trustee approval effective July 1, 2014 or on the date of hire, whichever is later," the memo continues.
"The increase for all executives will be three percent. Some executives receive supplemental compensation from auxiliary sources. The three percent [pay increase] is calculated on the total compensation for the executive, and will be paid from state funds….
"Chancellor White will continue to evaluate equity and market issues related to executive compensation and will bring further recommendations to the Board at a future date," the memo adds. "Chancellor White believes it is important to distribute the current salary increases evenly, given that this is the first salary increase the executives have received since 2007."
Hirshman's new base pay of $362,000 would top the list of CSU campus presidents, with San Luis Obispo's Jeffrey Armstrong close behind with $361,400, though Armstrong only only gets a foundation supplement of $30,000.
Under the proposal, CSU chancellor White's salary would rise from $380,000 to $392,300, with a supplement of $30,000, for a total of $422,000, putting him not too far ahead of San Diego's Hirshman.
When Hirshman was hired in July 2011, his then-record $400,000 salary — $100,000 more than his predecessor Stephen Weber's, according to a Los Angeles Times report — was widely criticized, leading governor Jerry Brown to ask CSU trustees to reconsider the move.
"The assumption is that you cannot find a qualified man or woman to lead the university unless paid twice that of the Chief Justice of the United States," wrote Brown. "I reject this notion….
"These are difficult times and difficult choices must be made. I ask that you rethink the criteria for setting administrators’ salaries."
The newly reelected governor’s reaction to the latest pay moves remains to be seen.