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The Bountiful Table:

Generous Pay Raises for 80th
Street and College Presidents;
Crumbs for Faculty and Staff

80th Street, Presidents Get Generous Raises

CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein received a $100,000 raise on October 27, when the Board of Trustees voted to raise salaries for administrators covered by the Executive Compensation Plan. The 40% increase, Goldstein’s first since taking office in 1999, brings his total annual pay to $350,000.  

CUNY’s 18 college presidents received raises of 3.2% to 9%; their new salaries range from $167,184 to $221,776. These figures do not include additional compensation such as a housing allowance, use of a CUNY-owned car, etc. Chancellor Goldstein, for example, receives an additional $90,000 for housing costs plus a car and driver, for total compensation that approaches half a million dollars. 

The Board raised pay for executives at the campuses and the Central Office by an average of 5.8%, at a total cost of approximately $2.1 million. 

“Management argues that you need to pay people well to attract the best – so why to and faculty the professional staff?” asked PSC President Barbara Bowen. She noted that real-dollar salaries for CUNY employees have decreased dramatically since the 1970s (see p. 12), and that management has yet to offer a wage increase in the current contract negotiations. “To give such a large raise to management, and management alone, reflects the wrong priorities for City University,” said Bowen.


Michael Arena, university director for media relations, told Clarion that the raises were made possible by good management. “Productivity savings at the Central Office, including the elimination of a number of positions, funded the increases for the college presidents and the Central Office,” he said. “Similarly, the colleges have been asked to fund their ECP Executive Compensation Plan] increases by cost efficiencies.”

Susan O’Malley, chair of the University Faculty Senate, questions whether such savings can cover the executive raises’ full $2.1 million cost. “Senior Vice Chancellor Alan Dobrin has made many good efficiencies but we have not seen the exact figures,” she said. “Show us the numbers.” 

The Board’s resolution stated that $50,000 of Chancellor Goldstein’s increase will come from “non-tax levy sources” – perhaps the CUNY Research Foundation, according to The New York Times. When Clarion asked Arena exactly where this half of the money would come from, he declined to elaborate.


According to ECP guidelines established in 2000, CUNY’s chancellor evaluates each president according to how well he or she has fulfilled annual performance goals specific to each campus. Presidents are rated outstanding (exceeds goals), effective (meets goals), needs improvement (does not meet all goals) or does not meet expectations (does not meet most goals). 

The 2002-2003 performance goals for Borough of Manhattan Community College President Antonio Pérez provide a window into the criteria the chancellor uses to judge college presidents. They include a 16% increase in total funding from grants and contracts, a 4% increase in the proportion of non-remedial instruction by full-time faculty, a 2% increase in the first-time freshman retention rate, a 2% increase in the CPE pass rate, and an increase in instructional space. 

Performance goals for all CUNY presidents are posted on the University’s Web site (go to www.cuny.edu; click on “Chancellor’s Corner,” then click on “University Performance Goals.”)The University’s Office of Media Relations did not respond to an inquiry about actual performance on the goals set for each college president during the past academic year.  O’Malley said she is unaware of any public document that compares the goals with actual performance. “While all these raises are supposed to be performance-based, I’ve never seen someone get nothing,” she noted.   

In explanation of its decision to give the chancellor such a large raise, the Board of Trustees cited an evaluation of Goldstein’s salary by the consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles. “Based on competitive salaries from other systems,” the Board statement  declared, “the Heidrick & Struggles report states that ‘one could argue for a salary in excess of $500,000.’ ”


The November 14 Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the number of public-university presidents earning $500,000 doubled this year. But the Chronicle also reports that “professors, lawmakers and some higher-education experts are questioning whether such presidential pay is frivolous, particularly as states have increased tuition and slashed higher-education budgets.” 

The ECP covers professional employees who are excluded from the PSC’s collective bargaining unit.  Some of these employees, including deans and college presidents, are excluded because of their managerial titles. Others, such as those who work with confidential files in the offices of personnel directors, are excluded because of their job functions.  The raises just approved by the Board of Trustees apply only to those on the ECP because of their managerial titles.

Reprinted from December 2003 Clarion, page 3