CSU trustees OK Fresno State president's salary

The Fresno BeeJuly 23, 2013 

Fresno State's new top dog Joseph Castro will get $299,000 in his position as university president -- the same salary outgoing President John Welty was paid -- California State University trustees decided Tuesday.

At their meeting in Long Beach the Board of Trustees voted unanimously and without discussion to approve Castro and five other new CSU presidents' salaries including former Fresno State Provost William Covino, who is set to become president of Cal State Los Angeles. Covino, who takes office on Sept. 1, will also be paid $299,000.

Like all CSU presidents, both Castro and Covino will be at-will employees without a contract.

Both will also get a monthly car allowance of $1,000 and reimbursement for their moving expenses. Castro will hold the rank of full academic professor with tenure in Fresno State's Kremen School of Education and Human Development; Covino will be a full academic professor at Cal State Los Angeles' College of Arts and Letters.

Other employment provisions:

• Castro will be required to live in Fresno State's University House on Van Ness Boulevard and his wife, Mary Castro, will be designated as a university volunteer.

• Covino will get a $60,000 annual housing allowance.

Board divvies up extra $125.1 million from state

In other business, the board discussed how it will use $125.1 million new state dollars promised by lawmakers this year. Those funds add padding to CSU's 2013-14 budget, which totals $2.3 billion.

Almost $50 million will help pay for rising employee benefits and energy costs, while another $22 million will be directed toward enrollment. The trustees also plan to chip in $38 million for university employee raises and the remaining dollars will be used to improve online classes and help more students graduate on time.

"We're grateful for this important step in the right direction," said CSU Chancellor Timothy White. "But we still need to do more to help meet the unprecedented demand to attend California State University campuses. So, we continue to work with our elected officials and all the stakeholders ... on restoring additional access."

At this time last year, the trustees were weighing whether to slash employee pay or raise tuition prices to help fill a $250 million budget hole left after lawmakers passed steep cuts to CSU and several state agencies.

Those proposed university cutbacks were contingent on the passage of Proposition 30, which raised the sales tax and income taxes on people earning more than $250,000. Fresno State students ended up getting a $249 tuition refund and reprieve from an additional $150 hike set to take effect in January 2013 after voters approved that measure in November.

This year, CSU's total allocation was decided after "a tremendous amount of back and forth discussion" between CSU officials and lawmakers, said Robert Turnage, assistant vice chancellor for budget.

But unlike the prior budget season, CSU got most of what it asked for.

By the time Gov. Jerry Brown signed his $96.3 billion budget act in June, Turnage said, the trustee's 2013-14 spending proposal approved last November stayed largely intact.

"A lot of what I think was a successful budget season has to do with the fact that everyone in the university pulled together in advocating for the university," he said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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