Pushing against the limits they set a few months ago, California State University trustees have given the maximum allowable salaries to two new campus presidents, and nearly the maximum for one more.
Big salaries offered to presidents have drawn criticism at a time when the university system has cut back on course offerings and hiked tuition. So in May, the trustees approved a policy limiting the salaries of new presidents to 10 percent more than their predecessors' salaries. The extra 10 percent has to come from private foundations.
On Tuesday, the trustees immediately zoomed to that maximum.
Diane Harrison at CSU Northridge and Leslie Wong at San Francisco State will make $324,500 a year each, and Tomas Morales at CSU San Bernardino will earn $319,000, according to AP.
Those salaries represent a 10 percent increase over those of outgoing presidents at Northridge and San Bernadino, and a nine percent increase at San Francisco.
The trustees will also pay out a $1,000 monthly car allowance to each president. Harrison receives free campus housing while Morales and Wong each receive a $60,000 annual housing allowance.
Not everyone gets top dollar, though. Retired Admiral Thomas Cropper, the fourth new president, will earn $250,000 a year, 3.5 percent less than the previous president of the California Maritime Academy.
Chancellor Charles Reed, who oversees the whole system, tried to preempt criticism of the big salaries.
“No funds from the foundation will be coming from any financial aid or scholarship money," he said, according to KQED's Ana Tintocalis, who followed the proceedings. "The supplemental funds will be raised separately from each of the foundations... I’m very proud of all of my presidents. And this year was the largest challenge I have ever had to go out and find nine new presidents.”
Trustee Steven Glazer also emphasized that money for the higher salaries wasn't coming from public coffers.
“These are private individuals who are making these choices," he said.