Responses to
Chancellor's Communication-February 11, 2002

Here are the most frequently asked questions and my responses:

1. What is the status of the CFA contract negotiations?
The CSU and the California Faculty Association (CFA) reached a tentative three-year agreement on March 2. For more information, please see:
2. I heard that the CSU has withheld some of the money it has received for salary increases. Is this true?
I know that there is a great deal of misinformation out there on this issue, so I am glad to have an opportunity to set the record straight.
Our budget is proposed each year on the partnership agreement with Gov. Davis. (The 2001/02 budget and the proposed budget for 2002/03 represented the first years that the partnership has not been fully funded.) The legislature approves the CSU budget in broad expenditure categories; e.g. enrollment, compensation increases (the distribution of which is determined by collective bargaining), long-term budget needs such as the maintenance of the CSU's buildings, library support and technical support, as well as mandatory costs.
Once the budget is approved by the legislature and is signed by the governor, the expectation is that the CSU will spend the dollars according to this budget plan. All dollars projected for salary increases are spent as designated in the budget, and the CSU reports to the legislature and the governor accordingly. Every eligible employee receives the appropriate salary increase as negotiated between the CSU and the represented employee bargaining groups.
However, the amounts in the budget for compensation are estimates of expenditures 10 to 12 months in the future. For example, the 2002/03 budget is drafted in August to October of 2001 for expenses to be incurred starting in July 2002. Due to the changes in employee hires, retirements, and separations that may occur during that time, some temporary funds may be available on a one-time basis each year.
These one-time, temporary funds are used for:
  • The recruitment and hiring of new faculty and staff;
  • The start-up costs for new faculty such as office equipment;
  • Compensation of temporary faculty to teach students until a permanent replacement begins (thereby avoiding unwarranted increases in class size);
  • New faculty relocation costs;
  • Equipment for new faculty laboratories;
  • Costs for annualization of fringe benefits.
Again, some amounts of these temporary funds are available each year, but the amounts can vary substantially from year to year.
3. If the CSU received record amounts of external support last year, why can't those funds be used to supplement the current shortfalls in the CSU's state budget?
The external support received by the CSU is extremely important to our campuses. It provides us with the "margin of excellence" that allows our university programs to rise above the level of support that the state funding alone can provide. It enriches the programs and opportunities that our campuses are able to offer.
External support received by the university through endowments and grants are typically received in the form of restricted funds for specific campus-based activities or donor-sponsored programs. These funds are often used for such programs as student scholarships, teaching fellowship awards, or library collections. In some cases, our external support funds are used for student or university programs and activities for which we cannot use state funding. Given that the amount of external support individual campuses receive varies greatly from year to year, it would not be wise to commit these funds to pay for annual recurring costs, even if that were possible.
What this year's record amount of external support does tell us, however, is that our advancement programs represent a critical investment for our campuses. For every dollar we spend on advancement, we receive a five-fold return in our investment. At a time when there is more competition than ever for a limited amount of state funding -- and especially during this difficult budget time -- we will need to keep building this investment in order to preserve our margin of excellence as an institution.
4. Has the CSU diverted money that was supposed to be used for salaries into the CMS project?
Let me reiterate that all funds required for salaries in the CSU have been expended on salaries at CSU. Every employee eligible for salary increases has received the increases for which he or she is entitled as negotiated between the CSU and the represented employee bargaining groups.
CMS stands for Common Management System. It is a systemwide initiative to improve our human resources, financial, and student information services, using PeopleSoft software. We decided that we needed to undertake this project because many of our campus information technology systems are out of date and very costly to maintain and repair. It makes no sense for us to continue to spend scarce technology dollars to maintain costly, aging systems that will have to be replaced eventually, at a far greater cost.
CMS will allow us to standardize systems from campus to campus, which will make it easier to transfer information -- an especially important benefit at an institution like ours that serves such a large mobile population. Other CMS benefits include:
  • For students -- One-stop, anytime, anyplace web-based access for all student services.
  • For staff -- Improved budgeting and administrative efficiency through streamlined reporting and elimination of duplicate entry of data.
  • For faculty -- Better support from administrative departments, plus better administrative tools and more timely information for use in advising students.
CMS expenditures are funded from system resources including campus assessments, utilization of marginal cost enrollment appropriations for Academic and Institutional Support, redirection of Chancellor's Office funding, and allocation of the governor's partnership funding. CSU carry-forward funds have also been used to address one-time costs.
Over 40% of the marginal cost funding allocated by the legislature is for academic support, student services and institutional support, all of which are supported by CMS. The use of a portion of these new dollars to update the administrative infrastructure is an appropriate and necessary university expense.
I appreciate all of the work that so many of you are doing on our campuses to implement CMS. The effort and the cost will be more than worthwhile in the long run.
5. Why does the CSU admit students needing remedial education?
When the state of California created its Master Plan for Higher Education, it gave the California State University the role of educating the top third of California's high school graduates who wish to enroll in higher education and seek the baccalaureate degree.
Unfortunately, California's high school standards have not always been specifically aligned with the CSU's standards. This fact becomes very clear when our incoming students take the CSU's English and mathematics placement tests. In many cases, a student who has received top grades in high school does not perform well on the CSU placement tests. This means that he or she needs to take remedial education courses.
Although some universities have made a practice of guiding remedial students to community colleges, the CSU's Board of Trustees has decided that the CSU should continue to assist students who need remedial education, while at the same time working more closely with K-12 schools to eliminate the need for remediation in the future. In 1996, the CSU established a goal of increasing the proficiency of entering students to 90% by 2007.
The CSU has since earned a reputation as a national leader when it comes to K-12 outreach, and we are also working closely with the state to connect our placement standards with California's new 11th grade standards test. This connection would enable high school students to receive an early signal as to their progress in meeting CSU placement standards. We will continue to work on these and other projects with our K-12 colleagues in order to meet the trustees' goal.

Last Updated: March 5, 2002