California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White hosted an event last Thursday at Sonoma State University addressing the university system’s vision, as well as responding to questions from students, staff and faculty.
Among topics covered during the speech, White spoke about a California drought in education — an anticipated shortage of roughly one million bachelor degree earners in the state by 2030.
“As you look at California’s future, there is a significant drought that is starting to emerge with the number of students that have a bachelor’s degree from colleges and universities,” said White. “By 2030, at the current rate at which bachelor’s degrees are earned by students in California, we are going to be over a million degrees short of what is going to be necessary to sustain the economy.”
During the question and answer segment of the event, several members of the audience comprised of students, staff and faculty asked White to address several topics.
“At the moment, there are faculty on this campus and other CSUs that have graduated with bachelors, masters and even doctorate degrees that are currently making salaries below the poverty line,” said senior Gabe Duran. “Have you ever considered cutting administrator salaries, presidential salaries and maybe the needs at the top to sequester sacrifices needed to be made at the lower level?”
White responded that presidents on CSU campuses often make less than other universities and that it’s not beneficial to CSU campuses to cut administrative pay.
“Our presidents are well below market, in some places 45 percent,” said White. “[When] we came out of the recession, none of the president’s got salary adjustments and everybody else did for the first year. I can’t continue that and hope to keep the talent that we have, there’s a lot of people coming after our best presidents and we don’t want to lose them.”
Members of faculty also asked questions regarding faculty positions on campus.
“In the last ten years, the proportion of tenure track faculty to the adjunct faculty has dropped dramatically, and with fewer tenure track faculty comes fewer curriculum innovations, fewer curricular developments and less contact between students and faculty,” said Sam Brannen, a professor of mathematics and statistics. “Are you committed to restoring the proportion of tenure track faculty to what it was ten years ago?”
White answered the question by acknowledging that non-tenure faculty can make good instructors and also brought up allocation of campus resources.
“When resources get tight, how do we continue to deliver the curriculum?” asked White.
In a later response to the question of staffing tenure and tenure track faculty, White said the CSU is making progress.
LGBT representation on university campuses were also addressed.
“What is being done to support transgender and gender nonconforming students?” asked Carina Buzo, the program coordinator with Sonoma State’s HUB.
Support centers and similar resources on CSU campuses were mentioned in the response.
“The DNA [of the CSU] is for every student to succeed,” said White. “There is a very strong commitment to supporting students, particularly those who come in the most vulnerable environments, which many in the [LGBT] community are.”
Questions about tuition increases were asked as well.
“Why the planned [tuition] increases?” asked Sonoma State sophomore Devin Fox.
White said CSU tuition hasn’t changed since 2011 and won’t change this year or next.
“It’s sort of like the least lousiest decision, nobody wants to raise tuition,” said White.
White also spoke about visiting with student leaders, staff and student workers at Sonoma State’s IT Help-desk and the retirement of Sonoma State’s President Ruben Armiñana during the event.