Chancellor immobilizes Cal Poly’s proposed fee increase

April 1, 2009


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.

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Member Opinions:

By: jlml on 6/7/09

Let's keep this in mind:

"Objective Statement

Upon recommendation by the Campus Fee Advisory Committee (CFAC), President Baker has approved the submittal of a fee proposal to the students for advice and consultation."

This student vote served to advice President Baker to make the final decision. Personally, whether the students would have voted yes or no, I think that the student fee increase would have gone through. However, the decision from the Provost came through and put this to a halt.

By: rogerfreberg on 4/2/09

Okay, does ANYONE really BELIEVE that Cal Poly administrators were actually going to use the funds to increase class offerings, hire professors and improve education?

Besides, it has been alleged that the administration painted a horrific picture for students if the fee increase didn't pass. In my day, we called that blackmail.

I remember the day when we didn't have any provosts or vice presidents at Cal Poly… and the business of the university STILL got handled.. there's a few million right there to save or hire professors and increase class offerings.

Lastly, Cal Poly is always looking at ways to enact a 'teacherless' environment through various distance education schemes… when the real effort needs to be made to do what they do best… teach. Someone needs to look at what support is really needed — and not needed — on a department by department basis. If it doesn't contribute to the overall mission… it needs to go.

By the way, have you ever tried to get a 'person' on the phone at Cal Poly or walk up to a service counter? PleeEeease! When you don't care how education is run at the top… it shows at the bottom… IMHO.

Fee increases and tax increases are really not the issue… I accept them if I believe that they are going to be used prudently and for the betterment of all and not to maintain an inefficient organization.

Bob Koob is on the right track… but what is needed is more than just an ax… but a vision of what Cal Poly can be.

By: mccdave on 4/1/09

Roger Freberg: "Fire faculty and classes are reduced and student progress is delayed… fire administrators and… what happens?"

It is vitally important that student transcripts receive regular dusting and that alumni are bombarded with solicitations for money embedded in Cal Poly Magazine, Kennedy Library Magazine and Porcine Science Monthly.

Headline: "Chancellor immobilizes Cal Poly's proposed fee increase"

Christ, I was expecting something involving tasers and choke holds. Hopefully the Chancellor will mobilize some English composition teachers and Blackburn and Velie will take a few courses. One of these days they're going to write a sentence with collateral damage sufficient to claim a human life.

By: CitizenB on 4/1/09

I am not surprised that students voted for the fee increases. There are so many classes required for graduation (both in major and general ed) and so few offered per quarter that it takes an immense amount of planning to be able to graduate in less than 5 years. The extra cost in fees is offset by reducing the amount of time students spend waiting to get the classes they need to graduate.

By: rogerfreberg on 4/1/09

The 'vote' for an increase in student fees was not publicized and happened at the beginning of finals when student's were thinking about other things. One professor asked their class if they knew anything about the 'vote'… and no one knew. The administration is pretty sneaky… as with the Saudi Deal… do we see a pattern?

I find the quote by Bob Koob, “I would rather fire administrators than fire faculty,” interesting and encouraging. Fire faculty and classes are reduced and student progress is delayed… fire administrators and… what happens? So, Bob, who and what is stopping you?

Looking back, I am reminded that in the 'old days', faculty would take turns as college President in a number of places as a service to their institution… This leads me to wonder how much the cost of Cal Poly's Administration represents relative to faculty salaries and benefits? How much of that could be reasonably saved or reduced and reallocated to make a better university?

It goes without question that Cal Poly is going to have to relook at how it does business from the top.

By: JorgeEstrada on 4/1/09

My guess is that the vocal minority wants to graduate. Good for them, they have learned something about the process. YOU MUST PAY TO PLAY. Now go get'em, it's the best system that money can buy. Kudos to Koob.

By: MartyTracey on 4/1/09

I'll wager that most of the students that voted for the increase expected their parents or old Uncle Sam to pay it.

By: CitizenCane on 4/1/09

Lets see ol Chip Vischi put some spin on this one and earn his newly aquired, public supported salary

By: Al on 4/1/09

What amazed me was the fact that the students actually voted FOR the fee increases.