The fallout from this summer’s media nightmare for the California State University Board of Trustees continues to have academia, legislators and students in an uproar as another campus president has announced plans for his impending retirement.
Last week, San Francisco State University President Robert Corrigan announced he will retire. CSU Northridge President Jolene Koester is also scheduled to retire in December, making the CSU presidential selection process revamp all the more crucial.
On July 12, the CSU Board voted to approve the $400,000 annual salary of San Diego State’s new university president Elliot Hirshman, $100,000 more than predecessor Stephen L. Weber.
The same day, the board also voted to raise tuition by 12 percent, on top of the 10 percent that it was already raised during the 2010 school year.
At that meeting Gov. Jerry Brown sent a letter to the CSU Board asking it to rethink its criteria for setting presidential compensation. He challenged the CSU’s Mercer compensation study which was used as the basis for deciding what Hirshman’s salary should be.
“The assumption is that you cannot find a qualified man or woman to lead the university unless paid twice that of the Chief Justice of the United States. I reject this notion,” Brown wrote.
Brown’s letter to CSU Board Chair Herbert Carter led to the establishment of the Special Committee on Presidential Selection and Compensation which met in Long Beach on Aug. 8 and 24.
The proposed changes
Among the biggest changes to the current policy on selection of presidents being considered by the board is the elimination of campus visits by the final slate of presidential candidates. CSU General Counsel Chris Helwick discussed the changes at last week’s meeting.
As was the case with the selection of SDSU’s eighth president last spring, presidential candidates visited the campus. The purpose of the campus visits is to keep candidates interested in pursuing the position by meeting with campus constituent groups. Even though the visits aren’t meant for formal evaluation of the candidates, they give the faculty, students and community the chance to compare and debate which person might make the best president for the campus.
Helwick said many presidential candidates have been lost at the point when they’re required to make campus visits, citing concerns about confidentiality.
Also being eliminated under the proposed new policy is a second review panel, Helwick said. Current policy gives the CSU chancellor the option of appointing a second panel made up of mostly faculty members from the campus to submit nominations to the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President. The panel is meant to give additional reaction and advice on presidential semi-finalists.
The TCSP recommends a minimum of three presidential candidates to the board. Under the proposed policy change, an additional trustee will be added to the TCSP. Currently the CSU Board chair, three trustees and the chancellor make up TCSP.
As it stands, the CSU Board is set to vote on the new policy at the next board meeting being held on Sept. 20.