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By Terry Miller
Okay, I admit it. Once in a while I open my big British mouth when things upset me.
Last week’s opinion piece about Citrus College president’s $40,000 a year housing allowance (atop her rather large salary) was one such example and garnered a little attention.
A few friends and colleagues disagreed with me on my opinion. That’s great. I love a good squabble. Trouble is, so do they.
Once again, I come to the aid of my party. Come on, really, do you think a California college should add insult to injury by offering incredible salary and benefits packages to top administrators while the state and students suffer. Just look at Monday’s Los Angeles Times article this week. A story on A1 pointed out the very thing we’re talking about.
One friend asked “Is Citrus Public or Private, it makes a difference?” A former Marine, a Vietnam Vet thought I was terribly unfair to the poor Superintendent. Some agreed that the allowance was a little excessive and one former teacher, Dave Peterson made some bloody good points on the importance of raising funds for these small colleges. That, in part, is what a superintendent is supposed to do and Peterson believes, as do others, that the salary is appropriate with the experience in fund-raising and the results achieved.
Now for the facts: Citrus College is, a public community college and part of the California Community College system, which “furthers the economic development of the region and the state by providing education and vocational training and offers cultural opportunities for the greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.” It is the oldest public community college in Los Angeles County and has been serving the community since 1915.
The California Community Colleges is indeed the largest system of higher education in the nation, with 2.6 million students attending 112 colleges. California community colleges , according to the Chancellor’s website “ provide students with the knowledge and background necessary to compete in today’s economy. With a wide range of educational offerings, the colleges provide workforce training, basic courses in English and math, certificate and degree programs and preparation for transfer to four-year institutions.”
The Citrus College Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in 1966 and revitalized in 1982. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors, this according to their website.
The mission statement is clear: It’s mostly about money unless I’m misreading their mission statement:
• Strong Partnerships
• Ambitious Fund-raising Goals
• An Engaged, Productive Board
• Improved Visibility and Awareness
• Ongoing College Success Stories
• Modeling and Recognizing Philanthropic Involvement
I guess the point was trying to make last week was that schools’ budgets are being cut significantly and students often can’t even get the classes they want. When they do get classes, they land up traveling from far and wide to get to that class and end up with a huge student loan to repay.
The balance seems tilted in the direction of top heavy administration.
Directors are prominent and influential members of the communities served by the college. Each may serve up to two three-year terms in office. Officers include a president, president elect/vice president, secretary and treasurer. Directors are appointed by the Foundation board. The superintendent/president of the college is named in the Foundation’s by-laws as the executive director of the Foundation; however, the assistant to the superintendent/president, who is also director of the Foundation and grants, manages the day-to-day operation of the foundation.
The standards set by inequitable salary hikes and perks can only be perceived as ironic to this reporter when the result of an action is contrary to the desired or expected effect. My advice to students. Go to grad school, get a doctorate and apply for one of the many college administration jobs that seem to be paying a rather good ransom.
For the record: Dr. Brice W. Harris was unanimously selected as the 15th chancellor of the California Community Colleges by the system’s Board of Governors in September. He will assume the position on Nov. 6, 2012 replacing former, very-well loved Senator Jack Scott.
During Scott’s time in office, state funding to community colleges was cut by $809 million—12 percent of the total budget. Additionally, tuition fees have doubled and schools have cut course offerings by about 15 percent.
The new chancellor will make He will receive an annual salary of $198,500, plus a standard benefits package afforded to state employees, the same as his predecessor, according to a CCC press release which I’m sure you’ll note, is considerably less that the salary and benefits package of the aforementioned Citrus College president.
According to Andy Kroll of Mother Jones magazine, California’s public higher education system is dying a slow death. “A cheap, quality education is slipping away for the working and middle classes, for immigrants, for the very people whom the University of California’s creators held in mind when they began their great experiment 144 years ago.”