Chancellor immobilizes Cal Poly’s proposed fee increase
April 1, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed informed California Polytechnic State University President Warren Baker that he will not approve a student fee increase at this time, said Cal Poly Provost Bob Koob Tuesday.
Students voted earlier this month to increase fees $100 to $200 per quarter to protect their degrees and help guarantee the availability of classes and labs.
During times of financial hardship, Baker has relied on Koob to manage budget shortfalls. Because of a projected deficit of $3.5 million, a group of deans asked Koob to propose a student fee increase.
Fee increases require a student vote of approval, followed by the university president’s endorsement and then the chancellor’s sanction.
“We will know in three to six months if the chancellor will decide to approve the fee increase, until then it is up in the air,” Koob said during a lunch meeting of the Cal Poly Retired Faculty and Staff Association.
Following the students’ vote to increase fees, some Cal Poly faculty members voiced their opposition to the large salaries paid to consultants who appear to have little or no actual duties while the administration asks students to pay more for their education.
One such consultant, Joe Jen, resigned from his position as the dean of the college of agriculture for a position as President George Bush’s undersecretary of research, education, and economics.
In 2006, he returned to Cal Poly and now receives a salary of approximately $170,000 a year plus benefits.
“As far as I know Jen has no official duties and doesn’t even have a secretary,” said Professor Emeritus George Lewis, formerly a senate chair and president of the California Faculty Association (CFA). “My question is why isn’t this theft and prosecuted as a felony?”
Asked if the university was planning to pink slip consultants such as Jen who have few if any duties, Koob replied, “That would be up to the president.”
Additionally, Lewis noted that stripping the college of highly paid non-performing jobs given to ex-deans and a provost could save the university close to $1 million a year.
Last year, state lawmakers recommended that California State University campuses should be more transparent regarding their finances, said professor Emeritus and Cal Poly’s Pas-Ledge Chair to the CFA, Tim O’Keefe. He noted that the legislators also voiced their disapproval of administrative perks.
“The chancellor’s office was reprimanded for having sweetheart deals for many top administrators and those deals usually provided that the university administrator would reap not only the regular state retirement, but would also be given special highly paid positions that essentially had no duties attached or if there are duties they are not enforced,” O’Keefe added.
One local attorney and Cal Poly graduate, Dan McGee, thinks Cal Poly should cut back on spending rather than asking students to vote for fee increases.
“Cal Poly is exposing itself to a class action law suit,” McGee added.
Koob also reported that no tenure track faculty would be getting pink slips this year, though they would not be bringing back some part-time lecturers. Approximately 25 percent of Cal Poly’s teachers are classified as lectures.
“I would rather fire administrators than fire faculty,” Koob added.