Cal State Prez Salaries Top Facebook Exec

FEB. 14, 2012


Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is one of the country’s top executives. Under her tenure, the company has increased its user base tenfold—to more than 750 million users worldwide. That’s to be expected from someone with her pristine resume. She’s spent time at Google, the U.S. Treasury Department and Harvard Business School.

Thanks to Facebook’s Feb. 1 filing for an IPO, we now know exactly how much the company’s second-in-command earns for all her hard work: a respectable base salary of $300,000 per year. Not bad, but she could be doing a little bit better, if only she were in the public sector.

According to data from the Cal State University Chancellor’s office, the average base salary for Cal State presidents is a whopping $300,541. That means Sandberg, one of the private sector’s most accomplished executives, earns less money in base pay than the average base pay of the presidents of the state’s 23 Cal State campuses.

Just like Sandberg, these taxpayer-funded executives receive added perks and bonuses in addition to their base pay. Each Cal State president receives up to $60,000 per year in a housing allowance and $12,000 per year for a car allowance. The average presidential compensation package totals $372,000 per year. Who is responsible for this excessive compensation?

Cal State Trustees: The Public Sector’s Board of Directors

The Cal State University’s Board of Trustees, the equivalent of a corporate board of directors, sets the pay and compensation of university presidents. Earlier this year, the board explained its newly revised compensation policies. The board took up the matter only after public outcry following the trustees’ approval of a $400,000 annual salary for San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman.

“The new compensation limits and more relevant tiered list of comparator institutions will give stakeholders a good benchmark of where presidential compensation will be set as we move forward,” Board Chairman Herbert Carter said in the press release, which listed the University of Southern California, Rutgers and Tufts University as comparator institutions.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who is arguably the legislature’s higher-education watchdog, isn’t buying into the Cal State’s phony executive compensation reforms. He told the San Francisco Chronicle in January that public institutions shouldn’t be cash cows for executives.

“While I am pleased to see CSU Board of Trustees finally recognize that their past executive compensation practices were completely unacceptable, their new policy just doesn’t go far enough,” Yee said in a recent press release.  “Those making hundreds of thousands of dollars should not receive double-digit pay increases during bad budget times or when students are forced to foot the bill.”

I recently asked a spokeswoman for the Cal State system to justify the excessive compensation for Cal State executives.

“When you look at anybody’s salary, including presidents of public institutions, you need to look at the marketplace,” Claudia Keith, assistant vice chancellor of public affairs at Cal State wrote to me via email.

Which Marketplace Exactly?

Carter believes that the Cal State system should recruit and retain the best leaders. “Our continued goal is to recruit and compete for the best leadership possible, but also within articulated budget guidelines,” he said in a January press release.

Facebook executive Sandberg’s resume certainly qualifies her to lead a minuscule operation like a Cal State campus. After all, Cal State Los Angeles has fewer than 16,000 undergraduate students, or .002% of Facebook’s user base. Yet, Cal State LA’s chief executive, President James Rosser, earns $25,000 more per year than Sandberg.

Ultimately, students and taxpayers foot the bill for higher education’s highly compensated executives. Since 2004, the CSU Board of Trustees has increased tuition by more than 155 percent. In 2004, CSU undergraduate tuition was a bargain at $2,334 per year. This fall, incoming freshmen will pay just under $6,000 per academic year.

Hallmark of Bad Leadership

Business guru Warren Bennis, who heads the University of Southern California’s Leadership Institute, has written the book, “On Becoming a Leader.” His second lesson of leadership is to “accept responsibility and blame no one.” You’d expect the Cal State University system to be familiar with the book. Remember, they listed the University of Southern California as a comparator institution in their search for the “best leadership possible.”

“The board has had to raise tuition, not because of executive salaries, but because state funding for the CSU has been cut by a $1 billion over the past three years,” Keith said.

In other words, “Don’t blame us. It’s the Legislature’s fault.”



Write a comment
  1. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 February, 2012, 09:06

    Shows how out of touch the gov has become, and the fact that these losers STILL try to defend this BS as market driven is even worse.

    Don’t try to tell me we could not find an applicant as good as or better (these jobs are all cronyism/connected) to do it for $150K per year in this economy.

    Reply this comment
  2. Bruce Ross
    Bruce Ross 14 February, 2012, 10:55

    “Her executive compensation for FY 2011 was $300,000 base salary plus $30,491,613 in FB shares.” (Source:

    Sandberg in fact earned more than all the CSU presidents put together. I’m sure it’s just an oversight on Mr. Hrabe’s part, right?

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 February, 2012, 11:20

    We are talking BASE SALARY Bruce. I guess that was just an oversight on your part Mr. Ross.

    Reply this comment
  4. PJ
    PJ 14 February, 2012, 14:24

    The travel budget for administration was the big scandal when I went to a CSU. Doubt if it’s toned down any.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bruce Ross
    Bruce Ross 14 February, 2012, 15:06


    If you think comparing different people’s compensation without mentioning 99 percent of one person’s compensation is accurate and honest, well, more power to you.

    I’m sure Ms. Sandberg is itching to trade places with Charles Reed.

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 February, 2012, 16:15

    Bruce, stock options are worth boodles of cash ONLY when the company does GOOD, but if it tanks they are worthless.

    In the case of FB the stock is worth millions, maybe billions right now, but in the real world the stock can also become worthless in less than a year or two. Look at, FB could be the next MySpace. Look at Apple, trading ta $5 a share in 1995 and 90 days away from BK, now worth $500 a share. Tech stocks are notorious for wild fluctuations.

    The stock options work both ways, not always a value.

    Reply this comment
  7. Bruce Ross
    Bruce Ross 14 February, 2012, 18:10


    A “restricted stock unit” — of which Sandberg received $30 million worth last year — is not a stock option. It’s also not cash, but it’s not nearly as volatile.

    She’s filthy rich and with a bare modicum of financial planning her grandchildren will be too — and bless her for it. A Cal State campus president is bourgeois prosperous but not even in the same financial league. You, I and John Hrabe all know that very well.

    But it’s a free country. Believe all the lies you like.

    Reply this comment
  8. Kevin
    Kevin 15 February, 2012, 06:54

    What a misleading article. It may be that CSU presidents make too much ( btw check on the UC chancellors) but comparing their salaries with a FB executive does not make a good argument for this. CSU presidents actually do bring in money – one of their main jobs is fundraising. As far as I know FB has not turned profit. Also stock options increase the base salary of FB execs way over their base pay. Sandberg will soon be worth millions if not hundreds of millions.

    Reply this comment
  9. ELee
    ELee 15 February, 2012, 09:37

    Most campus presidents also receive perks, such as free housing, free transport, a nearly unlimited expense account, etc. Campus presidents have a fairly large staff of professional development experts — the people that bring in money. Further, most campuses have fully functional and comprehensive faculty governance. Upper level executives are unnecessary. They are a remnant of the notion that you need a monarch, a single leader, to run an institution. This is a fallacy. Let’s instead choose a mascot for each campus, and let the development experts and faculty senates run the university.

    Reply this comment
  10. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 15 February, 2012, 09:48

    CSU presidents actually do bring in money – one of their main jobs is fundraising.

    So what if they bring in money, big deal, why should they be paid $500K in total compensation when others will do ti for 1/5 that cost??????I know tons of people who fund raise and don’t get paid $400K per year, in fact they get $50K. Your comment is as bogus as it gets.

    As far as I know FB has not turned profit You then do not know very much. FB is a private company and has NEVER released a P&L statement so there is no way for you or anyone else outside of top management to knwo what the company brings in. I will tell you this, if the have an IPO that values the company at $80BILLION or more then they certainly do bring in a profit and will continue to do so.

    Also stock options increase the base salary of FB execs way over their base pay

    ONLY if the options have avalue baby Einstein. Like I said above, if the stock options go to zero net worth then the stock options do nothing to base pay. Why don’t you Google and see hwo their stock options did. I Packard Bell computer, or any of a number of other hi tech companies where they handed out stock options and the went BK. And for the record, stock optiosn are ONLY given to insiders who start or develope a company to profitability, last time I checked San Diego State had been around for 110+ years, so the current Presdient did nothing to deserve a $500K comp package.

    Reply this comment
  11. nowsane
    nowsane 16 February, 2012, 11:41

    I can’t help wondering if the Cal State system is just as resistance to distance learning as the general school districts are? If these guys are so intelligent and deserving of high base salaries, why are they encouraging distance learning and incorporating into the UC system?I know, it is a side issue.

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Gov. Brown axes 2013-14 school testing for K-12

Most California’s K-12 public schools will go through the 2013-14 school year without standardized testing after Gov. Jerry Brown just

Janet Napolitano rebukes policing speech on college campuses

  With a single op-ed, UC chief Janet Napolitano has become an unlikely ally of conservative and traditionalist critics of the

CA public sector: Laws? We don’t need no stinking laws

May 12, 2013 By Chris Reed In the private sector, there are all kinds of laws that govern employment, conduct,