Excessive executive compensation has been in the news a lot lately from AIG to the Auto Industry, but when it happens in a public institution like the University California it gets nowhere near the public outcry.
All the while students and taxpayers will be paying for our new, more expensive Chancellor we will still be paying Chancellor Vanderhoef his current salary to take administrative leave on the condition that he comes back and serves one year as a tenured professor. Great, not only do we get to pay out the nose for a new Chancellor, but we get to pay for the old one to go on vacation. One for the price of two!
All these raises happen in spite of the fact UC fees have doubled over the last ten years, excluding the recent 9.3% hike, even though the Regents and the University continue to cut back on services, hand out thousands to executives, and try to find new ways to cover their costs.
None of this is new information. It has been in the news and nothing has happened. Senator Leland Yee recently proposed an amendment that would bring the UC system under the control of the State Legislature. While that would be inadvisable – just take a look at the Legislature during budget season – it highlights the need for more accountability in the UC Board of Regents.
I would like the ability to recall Regents, as they are currently untouchable and far out of the reach of California voters. Eighteen of the twenty-six members of the Board are gubernatorial political appointees riding out a twelve year term. Letting the voters have some say in the system would put a check on some of the more interesting decisions the Regents make.
Everyone wants to blame the Regents and the State Legislature, and although I used to agree with that feeling I have begun to realize that we are very quietly being taken for a ride. It seems to be in poor taste for Chancellor Vanderhoef to take full salary on vacation while students are asked to pay 9% more a year. On that note shouldn’t Chancellor Katehi feel a little guilty about taking slightly more than a 25% pay raise from what her predecessor received?
With Cal Grants and other sources of aid at risk from year to year and costs only increasing maybe they should give a little back to the students who are hurting most from the fee hike. Chancellor Vanderhoef can give back half of his vacation salary and Mrs. Katehi can give back the $85,000 increase she got from the Regents to do the same job Mr. Vanderhoef had been doing. If either of them did that I would feel a lot more respect for both of them.
There are far more solutions to the problem than those I mentioned, and what we need is for more people to think about how to improve our system. What is obvious is that our top tier public education system is in trouble and complaining about the Regents and the Legislature making bad choices just won’t cut it anymore.
All the figures featured in this column are from the sources below:
Jack Zwald is a Junior International Relations major, Chinese minor at the University of California, Davis. He currently serves in the Senate of the Associated Students and as the Political Director for Davis College Democrats. He’s always looking for feedback, feel free to shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org about the column or anything in general. Egghead is a weekly column for the Vanguard.