Making Universities Operate More Like Business

Conservatives have long demanded that academia adopt common business practices to improve education.  I’m happy to report that public universities California have gone a long way in that respect.

Here is an excellent report from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jim Doyle. 2006. The money trail: How former top CSU administrators brought home big bucks with special assignments. Monday, July 17,


Seven former California State University executives were each offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to work on special projects for the chancellor’s office following their retirement from top administrative positions. In most of these assignments, there was no requirement for a final work product or written report.

“I didn’t need to tell the (Board of Trustees) about the assignments. I have the responsibility to give those assignments,” said Chancellor Charles B. Reed, the university system’s top executive. “I shared a copy of (private correspondence) with the chair of the board.”

Here is the information on our former president and a former vice president who became the president of Sacramento State.

Manuel A. Esteban

President of Cal State Chico (1993-2003) [an a good guy by the way]

Took a “transition year” at a salary of $208,248 to prepare for his return to teaching, but decided instead to retire as a faculty member and — with the governor’s “golden handshake” program — received two additional years of service for CalPERS retirement benefits. The next year, he worked as a part-time special assistant to the chancellor for $93,711. He spent about eight months assisting with presidential evaluations and working with the McConnell Foundation and Shasta Community College to study how best to serve students in the northernmost parts of the state.

“I’ve always felt that we were treated fairly in the CSU,” Esteban said. “I received a sabbatical in which I was trying to retool myself to go back to the faculty. At the end of that I decided not to go back to the faculty. I had been out of the classroom for 10 or 12 years. … When I was about to retire, I was able to get an additional two years of service credit. It was pure luck.”

Donald R. Gerth

President of Cal State Sacramento (1984-2003)

Writing a history of the CSU system for the chancellor’s office. Under the terms of his five-year agreement, his work on the CSU history and “other specific projects as assigned” may continue until 2008. His annual salary for part-time work is $54,372. He also has clerical support of about $36,000 a year.

“I hope to get it done by the end of five years, or actually by the next academic year,” Gerth said. “My wife claims I’ve flunked retirement. It’s turned into a full-time project. I’ve got the thing thoroughly outlined. I haven’t started to write yet.”

Gerth, who hopes to finish his research in the fall, said he writes a “very general” letter to the chancellor once a year to give him a progress report on the project.

The article lists another of similar instances.

The University of California behaved similarly.

The result, of course, will probably be to cut the budget, then hire a new vice president to oversee the financial stringency.


1 comment so far

  1. edarrell on

    And I’ve long thought that it would be a good idea to get businesses to function more like universities, honoring those with wisdom and knowledge, and swapping good information from department to department — perhaps awarding tenure to good workers so they can be free to speak their minds about where the organization should go.

    You have a great voice for this stuff, and a great eye for the issues in the news, Dr. Perelman. Please write more.

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