SACRAMENTO — The Senate Education Committee on March 21 approved legislation (SB 952) to allow double-digit pay hikes for California State University executives making $300,000 to $600,000, while killing a bill (SB 967) that would have prohibited pay hikes for top administrators during bad budget years or within two years of a student fee increase.
“It is another sad day for our students,” said Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who introduced SB 967. “Unfortunately, the Education Committee has sent the completely wrong message. Rather than stand up for students and faculty, they protected the 1% and condoned CSU’s bad behavior. CSU students and California taxpayers deserve better than the status quo.”
Despite bipartisan support from student groups, university faculty, labor unions and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, as well as four votes from both Democrats and Republicans, Yee’s bill failed to receive the six votes needed for passage after three Democrats voted against it.
On March 20, the CSU Board of Trustees approved 10 percent pay hikes for two executives — $324,500 plus housing and a $12,000 per year car allowance for the next CSU Fullerton President Mildred Garcia (former president of CSU Dominguez Hills) and $303,660 plus $60,000 per year housing and $12,000 per year car allowance for CSU East Bay President Leroy Morishita.
At that meeting, CSU Trustee Roberta Achtenberg said, “I’m just sorry we can’t pay them more.”
Trustee Steven Glazer acknowledged that Garcia and Morishita are highly qualified, but said a pay increase was inappropriate during an economic crisis.
“Unfortunately, SB 952 codifies this abhorrent practice of catering to university elites,” said Yee. “Rather than approving SB 967 and putting a stop to these exorbitant pay hikes, the committee instead has ensured in perpetuity that students suffer and executives get rich.”
In 2009, Yee introduced a nearly identical bill to stop executive pay hikes. It was passed by the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yee said Gov. Jerry Brown is likely to sign the latest bill if it reaches his desk.
This past year, the trustees raised fall tuition twice, by 9.6 percent and then again by 12 more percent.
“Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before CSU gives yet another executive pay hike and another scandal plagues our great university,” said Yee. “I will not give up this fight for our students, faculty, and California taxpayers … When the students are suffering, CSU should not be handing out such exorbitant executive compensation.”
In January, the trustees capped the pay of executives at 10 percent above that of their predecessors. The board was criticized last July when it approved $400,000 for San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman, $100,000 more than his predecessor, and raised tuition on the same day.
When contacted by the Rafu Shimpo, Morishita provided the following statement:
“All salary and compensation decisions for campus presidents are determined by the California State University Board of Trustees. For your information, I had no input into their decision on salary and additional compensation.
“The trustees understand that the duties and responsibilities of a CSU campus president require specialized experience, training, and understanding of the system, especially in these very challenging times. It’s up to the CSU Trustees to determine the value of what a president can offer in terms of leadership, experience, and vision.”
In January, Morishita, who had served as interim president of Cal State East Bay since July, became the fifth president in the institution’s 55-year history.
Morishita has 29 years of senior administrative experience at San Francisco State University, where he held a variety of increasingly responsible positions, including executive vice president, chief financial officer, vice president of physical planning and development, and associate vice president of budget planning and resource management.
He was also a California State University Administrative Fellow for the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Cal State East Bay in 1987-1988, when the university was known as Cal State Hayward.
“Since he arrived at East Bay, Leroy has demonstrated the leadership skills, administrative experience, and interaction with students, staff, faculty and the community that are critical to the role of president,” CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said at the time. “He has developed good relationships with key stakeholders and will continue to move the campus in the right direction.”
Morishita was also praised at the time by Chris Prado, president of CSUEB’s Associated Students Inc.: “Since he became interim president July 1, Dr. Morishita has been very visible on campus and has worked hard to keep an open communication with the student body, which has been complicated, considering the recent fee hikes. In Dr. Morishita, we have a president who is willing to collaborate with us to solve the difficult issues we have on our campus.”
Raised on a grape and plum farm near Fresno, Morishita earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley, and his master’s degree in counseling from San Francisco State. He received his doctorate in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Morishita and his wife, Barbara Hedani-Morishita, have two sons.