CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White participated in a campus forum addressing concerns over class availability, tuition fees, sustainability and faculty wages.
The forum on Feb. 18 was part of a day-long visit to Cal Poly Pomona in which the chancellor toured the campus, met with students, faculty and staff and heard presentations on educational initiatives and research. He also met with the news media following the forum.
White was met with a protest from some faculty related to a possible strike called by the California Faculty Association for a 5 percent salary increase, plus a Service Salary Increase. The CSU has offered a 2 percent increase, which would cost the system about $33 million. The 2 percent increase is consistent with the amount negotiated with all other collective bargaining units in the CSU, as well as what managers and executives received. However, a 5 percent increase, plus a 1.2 percent for SSI would cost the CSU $102.3 million, plus an additional $40.7 million because of “me too” language in agreements with other bargaining units.
He fielded questions about the negotiations, citing that the CSU received state funding for specific purposes – increasing enrollment, IT infrastructure, construction projects and student success initiatives – and it could not be used for pay hikes, nor could the system’s $1 billion reserve.
“A salary commitment is one that you pay every year and a reserve is something that is one-time money, so when you spend that dollar, it doesn’t come back into the system,” he said. “I think the solution is a multi-year solution. I am committed to moving the salaries of our faculty and staff.”
One student who questioned him about the rising costs of tuition fees objected to paying for facilities that she would not directly benefit from.
The chancellor said he understood the frustration with the fees and suggested that students take those concerns to lawmakers in Sacramento, adding that the state has disinvested in the CSU over the past three decades, creating the need for fees.
“I think it’s part of a civil society in where we invest in things we might not personally benefit from but will benefit those who come behind us,” he said.
He also was asked about the possibility of students centers for undocumented students on CSU campuses. The chancellor said while not all campuses have centers, most have some sort of program, so the commitment to undocumented students is there.
He fielded a question from a parent concerned about the difficulty his son is having in getting the classes needed to progress. White shared the work the CSU is doing to study and improve bottlenecks, citing that the median time for a degree in the CSU is 4.7 years. In comparison, the median time at in the UC is 4.3 years.
The chancellor also talked about the CSU system working on developing a strategic plan, which includes six touchstones — quality, student learning and success, public benefit, diversity, sustainability and innovation.