Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hail to the Chief, Or, A Cog Makes a Modest Proposal

Doubtless you all know that the UC Regents have made their choice for the next systemwide president --- UT Chancellor Mark G. Yudoff. What you might not know is that the UC system is in California. And California is currently having yet another of its budget crises, with Gov. Arnie-poo proposing next year’s state budget with a 10 percent across-the-board cut. As Berkeley’s budgetary web site puts it:
The governor's proposal would increase funding under his "compact" with the UC system but then apply a reduction of $332 million, or 10 percent – the same percentage reduction proposed for most state General Fund programs. That would leave UC with a net state funding reduction of $109 million, or 3.4 percent, compared with the current year. However, it also would leave state funding more than $400 million below the level in the Regents' proposed budget for 2008-09.
The governor's plan provides flexibility to the university in determining the allocation of the $332 million reduction but anticipates the cut will impact student enrollments, student fees and individual programs. The governor's proposal calls for about 10 percent of the reduction to come from administrative spending and urges that cuts to instructional programs be minimized.
I don’t understand how increasing funding and then cutting it afterward would count as “upholding” the compact, i.e. the promise, he gave the university, but many people tell me it’s because I am not an economics major, so, ok then.

What I do want to point out is how brilliantly the Regents have enacted their plan to concentrate the cuts in administrative spending, or as the SF Chronicle puts it, “New UC president to earn $591,000, plus perks.” The only part they left off this headline is the “holy shit!” on the ending. In the article itself, they lay out the details:
His Texas package made him one of the highest-paid leaders of a public university in the country, with total compensation estimated at $790,000 - including a base salary of $528,860. At UC, his base salary of $591,084 will be a significant boost over the base pay of departing President Robert Dynes, who receives $405,000 a year.

In addition to his salary, Yudof's compensation package will include an $8,916 yearly car allowance, supplemental pension payments totaling $228,000 in fiscal 2008-09, and varying amounts each year after that. His total compensation package for fiscal 2008-09 is valued at $828,000, excluding moving expenses as well as standard health, retirement and management benefits.

The new president also will be eligible to live in a 13,239-square-foot mansion in Kensington with 10 acres of land, Mediterranean gardens and sweeping bay views - all maintained by a large staff at a cost of close to $300,000 a year. It's where Dynes has resided.
The website UTwatch has more information on Yudof's paycheck at his previous job, but it seems to me that this salary bump is way more than just inflation, which is currently about 4 percent.

Now, the Chronicle of Higher Education did a big spread a while back on compensation packages for top administrators, plus another article counting the numbers of presidents and chancellors topping the half million mark, plus another series on UC's past troubling compensation practices that were not getting spelled out adequately for a public institution subject to sunshine laws, but, since they are behind a subscription firewall I can't link to any of them for you. But I remember that all the campus chancellors, mine included, were getting cars in addition to their housing and gray-area raises and bonuses. How do they even spend this kind of money, with no housing or car payment to keep up with?

And here I would like to extend a generous offer to the University of California: dear Board of Regents, I am graciously willing to be considered as a candidate for UC President.

As a soon-to-be Ph.D. from this very University of California, with extensive practice balancing budgets and cutting corners on a TA stipend, exhaustive knowledge of how to push my way through the campus's labyrinthine bureaucratic system, significant experience lobbying the legislature against budget cuts and protesting fee hikes, and considerable participation in union activism, I feel that I am immensely qualified to be the next leader of this great educational system.

You might be worried by the inclusion of union activities in my resume, but to show that I understand how the economics works on the other side of the table I am hereby underbidding the presumptive candidate and declare that I am willing to take his package for only $100,000 in salary. Think of all the money you could save and pour back into making the university even better!

Not enough? Ok, if you keep the house, car allowance, and pension payments in the mix I am willing to work for nothing. Let the race to the bottom begin! After all, aren't the economist-types always complaining that every job should be competed over in a free market to determine its true worth? Logically, the Regents should want to get the best value for their money and hire the cheapest candidate. Aren't the Regents members all business types?

And look at how much this could improve our overcrowded classrooms! If a TA at, say, Davis, makes 32,782 a year ---- ha ha ha! My bad! Silly me! TA's aren't allowed to work full time and still have student status! --- that would mean 16,391 a year, then, if you take Yudof's "base salary" you could hire 36 grad students! Or you could use the whole compensation package and hire 48.1 grad students! (Where you will find .1 of a grad student? I have a grand plan for that as the new UC President and all will be revealed after my official inauguration.) Or, perhaps, give all the TAs a small raise.

It would make more sense, of course, to spread out these gains across the campuses and across a wider range of job titles ---- especially considering that the staffers, custodians and food-service employees are regularly paid 20 percent below market rate for the surrounding area --- or we could work on decreasing the UC's reliance on adjunct lecturers and convert more of them into tenured positions. But yes, I hear you when you exclaim that this one salary, grossly inflated as it is, will never stretch that far. But I am a forward-looking leader, and this is why I am looking at the salaries of the campus's Chancellors, and Vice Chancellors, and Assistant Vice Chancellors, and at all the top staffers up at UCOP. And it is why I am looking at my large group of incredibly talented friends who also did not get jobs on the market this year.

Beware, President Cog is coming. And she has the knives out.


Sisyphus said...

And I only wish the salaries in those articles were an April Fool's joke!

Writing this post made me so depressed. Gah!

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Bardiac said...

I would vote for you! You could SURELY do better for the UC system than has been done in a very long while.

moria said...

Dear Sis,

This is awesome.

More university politics posts please!


P.S. You will always be MY president of the University of California system!

Psycgirl said...

I'll support your bid!

Flavia said...

I love the idea of replacing the chancellor with an army of former TAs.

Except actually? That might just lead to endless Coordinating Committee-type meetings. And I really want to see YOU as dictator-in-chief.

Belle said...

As a UC alum, I hereby second the nomination and vote for you!

Dear lord, please tell me you're using UCD as an example, not that you're really going there....

Because, gulp, I did.

Horace said...

I will say, while that salary is a whopping one, I am not really phased by it: it's an enormous system to be juggling, and while that an exorbitant amount, it's hardly the worst abuse of higher ed funds for salary.

That honor would go to Division IA coaches. The new University of Michigan football coach makes 2.5 million annually. At Arkansas, the new football coach (fresh off of a disastrous NFL campaign), is making 2.85 million.

Basketball's not quite as bad, but the UCLA basketball coach makes a good bit more than the whole system's administrator will.

So a sub-million contract for someone actually involved in the business of education, well, it's bad, but I think there are even bigger fish to fry.

Renaissance Girl said...

I'm also a UC alum, and would vote for you for sure. Especially if you turn that Kensington estate into housing for grad students. (And some professors--they don't make enough to live like anything other than grad students in that neck of the woods...)

heu mihi said...

Sis-y-phus! Sis-y-phus!

(that's enthusiastic chanting, if it isn't obvious--)

Anonymous said...

i could not support you more, and hate arnold more either. i can help make signs for your campaign. i woudl contribute monetarily, but as you can prob. guess, i make shit.

Sisyphus said...

Oh, all you people are just so sweetly naive! As if anybody gets to *vote* on the presidential search or any of the major administrative decisions! Thanks all, but I think we're going to need pitchforks and torches at the sit-ins.

Hi Aimee! I wouldn't trust a VP for Ext Aff ---- after all, his salary will be going to the janitors once I get in place. ---- For your department, I would suggest using guilt on the Catholic ones and whips on the Protestants ---- you might be out of luck if they were raised Bhuddist or hippie ... maybe you can make that special "I'm so disappointed in you" face. Or, we can feed the recalcitrant grad students to the bionic hyenas that the science labs will be breeding for me... ooh, I don't want to go into that too much...

Neo --- this shit was tiring! I had to go calm down after foaming at the mouth, and then I actually had to outline the post and stuff. I was worn out! Maybe there will be a sequel, but I couldn't do this every day.

Flavia, I was seeing my friends as more cronies-yesmen-lickspittle-hangers-on types than having steering committee meetings, but I see your point.

Belle, the union web site doesn't list salaries, so I googled. Maybe I'm there, maybe I'm not. I'm really the spirit of every TA who was crushed down and exploited who resisted through snarkery. Oh, and was the "Death Star" there when you went there?

Horace --- Yes, I saw in the LA Times article that the head football coach at UCLA made 1.5 million a year. I'm thinking that could completely cover all the library staffing cuts and put some needed renovations back on the schedule. Besides, I have a cousin who went there who'd be willing to coach for about 125 grand. Of course, he wasn't in that same sport, but how hard is coaching at the college level once you've done it at a high school?

Renaissance Girl, yes, I think I will move a department or two into the mansion with me ... I was thinking on charging a hundred bucks a month or so though, so I'd have pocket cash ... they could also camp on the 10 acre grounds for free.

Kudos to everyone for commenting! I will magnanimously let you all live. (oh wait, this is the academic dictator fantasy, not my take-over-California-and-force-it-to-secede one...)