Cal State Chair Nabs Committee Nod

FEB. 16, 2012

By JOHN HRABE

The Senate Rules Committee quietly voted Feb. 15 to reconfirm Herbert Carter to a second term as Chairman of the California State University Board of Trustees. Carter, who has served as the board’s chairman since 2009, received the bare minimum three votes needed to send his confirmation to the full Senate.

Although Wednesday’s committee vote advances his confirmation to the Senate floor, there are some signs that Carter’s reconfirmation is in jeopardy. As of Monday morning, Carter’s nomination had not been listed in the Senate’s Daily File. One Capitol staffer, who asked not to be identified, said that the late addition to the agenda reflected a lack of support for his reconfirmation. Time is of the essence for Carter. The Senate must confirm his appointment by February 29, the 365th day of his reappointment by Gov. Jerry Brown.

A holdover from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term, Carter has presided over several rounds of tuition increases and spending controversies, including the board’s recent executive compensation scandal. In November, Carter was among the nine trustees to vote in favor a 9 percent tuition increase on the system’s 409,000 students.  Since 2004, Carter’s first year on the board, tuition has increased from $2,334 per year to just under $6,000 for the upcoming 2012-13 academic term.

CalWatchdog has previously reported on the lucrative pay and benefits that the Trustees have provided to the system’s 23 campus presidents. According to data from the Cal State University Chancellor’s office, the average Cal State president receives a total compensation package worth $372,000 per year. 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 Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960, which established the Board of Trustees, “charges the board with overseeing the efficient management of funds.”

New Policy

In January, the board approved a new compensation policy after public outcry following the trustees’ approval of a $400,000 annual salary for San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman. The carefully-worded cap allows the board to continue its controversial policy of supplementing executive pay through university foundations. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, San Jose State’s Mohammad H. Qayoum, San Diego State’s Hirshman and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Jeffrey Armstrong currently receive foundation bonuses ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.

“The Trustees’ special committee has developed a new pay policy for the 23 campus presidents that, not surprisingly, puts old wine in new bottles,” the California Faculty Association wrote in a recent press release. “Using a self-generated list of comparable institutions, they conclude that CSU presidents are underpaid.”

While executive salaries have increased, the 23,000 members of the university’s faculty association have taken pay cuts and furlough days. In 2009, the California Faculty Association agreed to take two furlough days a month, the equivalent of 9.5 percent of their salary, in order to stave off greater budget cuts.

Nineteen of the 24 CSU Trustees are appointed by the governor to eight-year terms. The appointments are subject to confirmation by two-thirds of the State Senate. Carter will need at least two Republican votes, assuming all Democratic Senators vote to reconfirm.

The Rules Committee’s three Democrats voted in favor of Carter’s reconfirmation, Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, Sen. Elaine Alquist of San Jose and and Sen. Kevin de León of Los Angeles. State Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, the lone dissenting vote, did not respond to our request for comment. Sen. Bob Dutton, R- Rancho Cucamonga, abstained.

 

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