Despite the state’s struggling finances and increased student fees, last week the University of California (UC) Board of Regents handed out over $350,000 a year for two top executives and paid exorbitant administrative leave for two former chancellors, receiving over $300,000 and $400,000 a year each. This is in addition to recent pay hikes of over 22 percent for several senior managers.
There is absolutely no justification for these bloated salaries. Once again, the UC continues to disrespect the taxpayers, students, and their low wage workers and faculty. The UC administration and Regents has continuously violated the public trust by catering to the University’s elite rather than serving the students, faculty, and workers they are appointed to represent. The public deserves better.
Over the past several years, I have joined students, workers, and faculty in attempting to reign in UC’s executive compensation practices. In fact, we have several bills including in Senate Bill 190, also known as the Higher Education Governance Accountability Act, in 2007. The law requires such decisions to be made in open session with public input. Prior to SB 190, many of the executive compensation decision were done behind closed doors.
This year, I hope we have finally found the solution to ending UC’s egregious compensation practices in SB 217. This legislation will prohibit raises for top executives in years in which the UC, California State University, or the state’s community colleges, raise student fees.
As long as the executives continue to receive excessive payouts, we will be unable to keep our universities affordable or attract the most qualified faculty.
For too long we have allowed the University to go down the same path as AIG and other Wall Street corporations, by providing for their top executives and ignoring everyone else. That is a proven failed strategy.
I urge you to join students, faculty, workers, and open government advocates in support of SB 217, which will be considered by the Senate Education Committee in the coming weeks.
Leland Yee is a member of the California State Senate Democratic Leadership team and the Assistant President pro Tem of the Senate. Senator Yee is also a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.