LOS ANGELES (AP) — California State University has spent $1 million in public and private funds over the past year renovating houses used by campus presidents, causing some to wonder why the system does not sell the homes in a time of fiscal austerity.
The renovations at four of the 11 houses at different campuses has caused consternation at a time when state funding is plummeting, causing tuition hikes, layoffs and program cuts, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday (http://lat.ms/NjeO81 ).
Although the bulk of the renovation money came from private donations to campus foundations, faculty and students say the kitchen and bathroom makeovers are rubbing salt in the wound caused by the loss of $750 million in state funding in recent years and potentially another $250 million cut next year.
"If you have to make a choice, don't remodel the kitchen and use that money for students until we figure something else out," said Kim Geron, vice president of the California Faculty Association. The association, the union representing faculty and other professional employees, estimated that the money spent on renovations could pay for 153 one-year scholarships or 183 extra classes.
CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said the renovations are necessary because the homes are used by presidents to hold fundraising events. The renovations are being done as presidents are being hired to fill vacancies.
"We need the presidents to have the best array of tools possible to perform their jobs," he said.
For instance, San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman is using the campus home, which received a $257,000 remodel, to host events that raise $1 million a week and has contributed $100,000 of his own money to the fundraising campaign, Uhlenkamp said.
But Geron questioned why other campus facilities couldn't be used for events and suggested CSU sell the houses to raise money.
"It feeds the notion that campus presidents and higher-ups are always going to get what they need," she said.