Budgeting Dilemmas Deal With More Than the Chancellor’s Salary

Here at UCSD, students are contemplating ideas — ideas that could reform the university’s financial woes, whether that may be additional fundraising or program cuts. One of the common sentiments on campus is that our new Chancellor, Pradeep Khosla, has an astronomical salary and, as a result, contributes to UCSD’s economic wounds. Chancellor Khosla does indeed gulp up a significant chunk in comparison to his UCSD colleagues; however, it is imperative to note that such generalized notions do not simply equate to UCSD’s budget downfalls. By diverting all attention toward salary figures, two important dimensions are neglected: the rationale behind the salary and its trivial impact on the financial well being of UCSD.

If UCSD is to remain a world-class institution that fosters the intellects of tomorrow, it must also continue to recruit members who further enhance the quality. This quality is well reflected by the recruitment of academically robust faculty, students, the university’s annual rankings and even the selection of the chancellor. It is for this reason why it is crucial to recognize the rationale for Khosla’s selection and his salary. Chancellors make a difference, according to Steve Montiel, a UC top-level official. Khosla has demonstrated, based on his tenure as Dean of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, the entrepreneurial spirit needed in this global economy and his potential to lure in fundraising benefactors. Of course, the jury is out on how successful he will be; time will be the best form of measurement. Regardless of Khosla’s future performance, the need for a well-qualified individual is mandatory if UCSD wants to withstand this turbulent economic environment and continue to build on its solid foundation.

Critics point out that the $411,084 salary approved by the UC Regents in May is a 4.8 percent increase from the salary of Khosla’s predecessor, Marye Anne Fox. Yes, the optics of this move can be questioned, especially at a time when tuition is rapidly rising. However, according to the UC Regents, the additional funding for his salary comes from non-state funds, so students are not directly affected. This eliminates the central talking point that Khosla’s salary increase is a byproduct of the students’ funding cuts; the students’ funding comes directly from the state — something Khosla’s salary increase does not.

Now, if Mr. Khosla’s salary exceeded other UC chancellors by a significant margin, it would be wise to raise some legitimate doubts. When taken into account, the salaries of UC chancellors are, in fact, relatively comparable with Khosla’s. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, for example, had a base pay of $415,999.92 in 2011. The chancellors of the likes of UC Berkeley and Davis also had similar sums to that of Khosla. All of the Universities of California mentioned are, based on their rankings, strong universities who have contributed to fostering the intellectuals of the present and the future — and so is UCSD, of course. My point being: While the salaries of chancellors may be a bit higher than ideal, the universities’ overall well being remains strong, showing that these salaries have little impact on students’ individual quality of education.

This discourse of senior management salaries has caused a few elements to be hidden in the shadows as well. Former Chancellor Fox, for instance, earned a prolific salary too. It is not as if Khosla’s salary has sparked a revolution at UCSD; this has been going on for years.

The public turbulence — in regards to the salary — has come as a byproduct of not being practical with data and attempting to formulate conclusions without studying key figures such as the overall budget. Granted, the principle of raising pay for the students while asking students to additionally contribute can be contested. But at a time when UCSD faces major dilemmas such as state funding cuts that will be hundreds of times the salary of the Chancellor, it is prudent that students be pragmatic about the real dilemmas facing this fine university, rather than constructing instinctive arguments. By no means am I advocating that the chancellor’s salary is well justified. No. I am simply stating that UCSD — and the UC system, for that matter — has more underlying problems to confront than the salary of one chancellor.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2320
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2320
$500
Contributed
Our Goal