By John Hrabe | CalWatchdog
LOS ANGELES — California State University officials have provided false and misleading information to the public about the total compensation provided to at least one of the system’s 23 presidents, a CalWatchDog.com investigation has found.
According to IRS documents of the Cal State University Los Angeles Foundation, CSULA President James Rosser reported receiving $515,612 in total compensation for fiscal year 2009-10, which ended on June 30, 2010. The half-million dollar figure is roughly $200,000 more than CSU’s previously cited base salary of $325,000 per year. (For this and other numbers, please see the 15 pages of confirming documents below.)
A university spokeswoman confirmed to CalWatchDog.com that, in addition to his base pay, housing allowance and car stipend, Rosser also receives more than $134,000 per year in “nontaxable benefits such as retirement, FICA, health, etc.” This disclosure is the first time that Cal State has acknowledged the complete and accurate total compensation for its top executives. Rosser’s more than half-million-dollar annual compensation package raises questions about the true cost of other college executives, including San Diego State University’s Elliot Hirschman and Cal State Chancellor Charles Reed, both of whom receive “base pay” in excess of $400,000 per year.
Legislator Calls for Immediate Pay Freeze & Audit
Republican and Democratic legislators quickly criticized Cal State for its apparent deception. One influential member of the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education is urging the Assembly leadership to freeze CSU’s pay and benefits and conduct a line-by-line review of actual spending records.
“If it’s true that the CSU has been hiding important budget information from the Legislature and public rev
iew, potentially in violation of state law and the CSU’s own rules, then I believe there needs to be consequences,” said Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge. “It is PAST time for the CSU to be fully and completely transparent. I call on the Assembly Leadership to support my continuing effort to FREEZE the pay and benefits for the CSU executives until we have adequate time to review, line-by-line, actual spending records.”
Senator Joel Anderson, R-Santee, who has been critical of the Cal State Board of Trustees for its executive compensation policies, also disapproved of CSU’s misinformation campaign. “It is always frustrating when intellectually dishonest bureaucrats play hide-the-pea with public records requests,” he said.
The new revelation of the total compensation package provided to Cal State L.A.’s president contradicts at least five instances in which Cal State officials have claimed or implied a lower compensation amount. At a minimum, Cal State has violated its commitment to be “as open and transparent to the public as possible.”