Minutes after voting to raise student tuition by 12 percent for the fall, California State University trustees on Tuesday decided the salary for a new campus president should be $100,000 greater than his predecessor's.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a board member who voted against both the tuition increase and the compensation package, told his colleagues that the university would damage its public image by raising salary and tuition on the same day.
"I caution us today with these two decisions and I feel compelled to make this point," Newsom said. "There are plenty of people watching, and people we need as supporters."
The tuition increase adds an additional 12 percent on top of a 10 percent increase approved last year. Combined, the two increases bring undergraduate tuition at CSU's 23 campuses to $5,472 a year.
That's an increase of about 23 percent compared with last year, and does not include campus-based fees that average $950 a year.
The tuition increase is a direct response to the state budget approved last month, which cuts state funding to CSU by $650 million, or about 24 percent.
Cal State officials lamented the need to raise tuition but said they had cut their budget by $400 million through expense reductions and had to turn to students to make up the rest.
The salary debate concerned Elliot Hirshman, who began earlier this month as the president of San Diego State. The board approved a compensation package for him Tuesday afternoon that includes a salary of $400,000, with $50,000 paid for with private funds from the university's foundation.
Hirshman's predecessor, Stephen Weber, earned an annual salary of $299,435 at the end of his 14-year tenure at the helm of San Diego State.
Joining Newsom in rejecting Hirshman's compensation package were trustees Margaret Fortune, Melinda Guzman and Steve Glazer, an adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Earlier Tuesday, Brown sent a letter to CSU trustees saying he was concerned "about the ever-escalating pay packages awarded to your top administrators."
"I fear your approach to compensation is setting a pattern for public service that we cannot afford," Brown wrote.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Trustee Melinda Guzman also voted against the compensation package for Hirshman. Corrected 1:56 p.m., July 13, 2011.