Labor - And A Whole Lot More

UC's On-The-Make Bosses
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Hard times continue at the University of California - except, of course, for UC's very well cared for administrators.

Their six-figure salaries continue to grow handsomely while the pay of those who teach and do most of the university's other work remains stagnant, and even as student tuition and fees increase and qualified students are being turned away.

Like the UC regents who set their pay, the administrators embrace the values of corporate America, which gives the greatest rewards and greatest credit to those at the top, and does so at the expense of employees whose pay and benefits they invariably try to limit. Although they are operating a non-profit institution of higher learning, they act as if UC was instead a profit-seeking corporate business.

Like corporate executives, the UC administrators will serve only if the price is right. True, the administrators' salaries are generally below the obscene levels of chief corporate officials, but like the officials' pay, it is far above the pay of their subordinates.

How far above? The university's 18,000 clerical employees average only about $30,000 a year. Teaching assistants, and the lecturers who conduct more than half of UC's undergraduate classes and do other indispensable work make even less. Tenured faculty members do much better, but even at an average of about $96,000 a year, their pay is below that at many other universities.

As for the administrators, consider Robert Birgeneau, president of the University of Toronto, who will take over this fall as chancellor of the UC Berkeley campus. The regents voted 11-1 to hire him at a base salary of $390,000 a year, nearly $75,000 more than paid outgoing chancellor Robert Berdahl.

The salary is only part of it. Birgeneau will get a "moving allowance" of about $100,000 and, like the chancellors at UC's seven other campuses, a rent-free home and a "housing allowance" to maintain it. Among other extras, chancellors get an auto allowance and payments to cover such "business expenses" as entertainment, travel and club dues and membership fees.

That's the level of compensation essential "in order to recruit the very best," asserts UC President Robert Dynes, who recommended Birgeneau's hiring to the regents.

Dynes has done pretty well himself. When he took office last October, the post paid $361,400. Now he's making almost $34,000 a year more, presumably because he also ranks among "the very best" and would have taken his undoubtedly special talents elsewhere had he not gotten the raise.

The Board of Regents elevated Dynes to the presidency from his previous position as chancellor at UC San Diego. His successor, Marge Anne Fox, was hired in April for $350,000 a year, nearly $70,000 more than Dynes was paid.

UC spent even more to hire a new system-wide provost, Marci Greenwood, last February. She was willing to take the job for $380,000 a year, $100,000 more than her predecessor and $111,000 more than she made in her previous job as UC Santa Cruz chancellor.

Even mere vice chancellors can expect sizeable rewards. Francisco. Last November, the regents raised the base pay of Bruce Spaulding, the vice chancellor at UC San Francisco almost 13 percent. He now gets $245,000 a year plus the same extras as full-fledged chancellors.

University spokesman Paul Schwartz argued that UC had no choice because a private firm had offered Spaulding a job at $350,000 that he would have taken if UC had not raised his pay.

Spaulding explained that he was nobly "turning down a job where my net compensation would have been $100,000 more than I'm getting with the raise. So I don't feel badly about it."

Among the other administrators-on-the-make who have done well playing the corporate game, you can surely count Joseph Mullinix, a senior vice president who got a raise from $291,900 to $370,000 last June. That came after he, too, got an offer for higher pay from elsewhere and naturally told the university about it.

The pay of administrators must be raised in such circumstances, says UC's Schwartz, "if we are to attract top candidates" and retain them.

It amounts to this: The University of California is buying administrators whose devotion to education can be measured by their demand for the highest possible compensation, men and women who eagerly sell their services to the highest bidder at our expense and that of the university's students, faculty and staff.

Copyright Dick Meister