Friday, March 26, 2010

Is the University of California Afflicted by Morbid Obesity?

University of California fees continue to increase because the university as a quasi-corporate person is suffering from morbid obesity--more and more money is demanded to nourish fat cells that do little more than add weight to an organism struggling to move into the twenty-first century.

In a discussion with some friends I asked a basic question: Students are protesting in California and elsewhere about sharply increasing tuition they have to pay, but professors and teaching assistants have gotten miniscule pay raises if any at all. Where is the money going? Who gets the money?

You don't need to look far. Mark Yudof, the chancellor of UC gets compensation of $828,000. Would he be able to function for half as much, let's say around the salary level of $400,000, which is what President Obama gets? What about Kenneth M. Jones, Interim Chief Operating Officer UCSF Medical Center getting a raise of $58,625 to $500,723 in the summer of 2009, and Linda P. B. Katehi appointed as Chancellor, UC Davis at annual salary of $400,000, an increase of 27% percent above that of predecessor Larry N. Vanderhoef? How are those exorbitant salaries and pay hikes being financed with other than with student tuition increases?

Could the money be coming from wealthy alumni giving more to the universities?

Not at this time. Donations to non-profits have taken a downturn since the beginning of the current recession.

Who are the "powers-to-be" that decide to give increases to administrators while students are being squeezed to pay more and more in tuition?

They are the members of the Board of Regents. They are generally wealthy members of the business community and other persons of prosperity

How do they justify compensation increases to those who are already more than adequately paid?

The general reasoning among regents is that administrators "need" to be paid more and more so that they don't leave for other jobs.

Who decides and how is it decided what makes a good administrator?
Higher ranking administrators evaluate both lower ranking ones and candidates wishing to become part of the system.

And what do they look for?

The ones on the higher rungs look for those candidates on the lower rungs who make them feel good about what they are n o t doing.

What are they n o t doing?

They are "not-doing" anything of any value that would improve the mission of an educational institution, to be specific, discovery and learning.

What keeps students and the public from doing anything to limit administrative bodies' taking funds that should be used to educate students?

There are several possible answers. The public is not aware how much of the money is going to waste at the top of educational institutions. If a university is compared to a human being, it needs to be fed. Money is the symbol for the food needed to keep it nourished. In a health-conscious human being calories are used to nourish a healthy mobile body in which exercise keeps muscles toned and the mind alert. But when someone takes in food indiscriminately and then does little more than watch TV, the calories are turned into body fat. Education money that goes into the pockets of overpaid administrators only makes for morbid academic obesity.

Why can't people see this?

Administrators tend to keep their distance. They wear suits and ties and hide in offices and conference rooms where they don't mingle with students and faculty.

What does wearing suits have to do with it?

If someone wears a suit, it is assumed that he is of a higher standing, that he/she is important enough that an appointment is needed to talk to him or her. Those who are higher and less accessible feel themselves to be aristocrats who merit more pay simply because they are part of an "upper class."

--I am aware that a lot more needs to be explored in regard to these issues, so I would greatly welcome any questions and commentary.