Too many UC administrators make more than the governor
The University of California, deservedly so, is seen as one of the finest educational systems in the world. But even as it pursues enlightenment inside its classrooms, UC fosters a bureaucracy defined by inefficiency, secrecy and bloat.
Over the past five years, the number of UC administrators earning salaries in excess of $174,000 a year has nearly doubled — from 5,931 employees to 9,640. Today, there are 712 UC administrators, excluding faculty and physicians, who earn more than $190,103 — the salary we pay the governor.
During the great recession, after tuition was raised by 32 percent, low-wage workers were furloughed or fired and student admissions cut. But UC officials quietly handed out $100,000 pay raises to select administrators.
Unfortunately, UC is at it again, this time with a fall tuition increase that will raise another $143 million from students.
It seems UC President Janet Napolitano has forgotten her own words. In one of her first speeches as president, she told the Commonwealth Club of California in 2013 that she would “stay constantly on the prowl” for savings.
Now we learn from a state audit that the UC Office of the President has managed to secretly squirrel away $175 million in funds, much of it collected from fees assessed each of the 10 campuses. Only when pressed by The Chronicle did the office inform the public that the money is divided into separate pots — even one for food pantries to feed hungry students.
Never mind that feeding students with one hand and then slapping them with a fee increase with the other is nonsensical.
Decisions at the top are also hurting long-term employees whose blue-collar jobs are being contracted out to help cover the rise in administrative salaries.
It’s long overdue that the citizens of California impose more constraints on UC’s $32.5 billion budget. When the California Constitution was ratified in 1879, UC was deemed a “public trust.” Its governing board enjoys almost complete autonomy in how it operates.
To rein in the excessive spending and administrative inflation, I am authoring State Constitutional Amendment 13, a bill that will amend the state Constitution and force a recalcitrant UC to stick to a new budgetary constraint: No tuition increases can be implemented if the number of administrators making a salary above that paid to the governor exceeds 600. Right now, UC has 112 well-paid administrators beyond that ceiling.
At the same time, the amendment would prohibit UC from contracting out lower-paying jobs if the 600-limit is crossed.
Looking for bloat, the president might want to begin with her own office, where the list of executive directors, associate directors, managers, strategists and specialists includes almost 40 people.
You would think with that many message-makers, she’d be able to stick to her original message of fiscal constraint.
Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, represents San Joaquin County and a portion of Sacramento County in the state Senate.