Chop from the top, build up the bottom!
President Ray, Provost Feser, Financial Officer Mike Green
Summary (full version below):
Oregon State University acts more like a commercial enterprise than a public college. This is a consequence of the university being controlled by a small group of wealthy individuals who view higher education as, above all else, an opportunity for profit-making. Bold changes are required for OSU to become inclusive and equitable, and these changes begin with demands for a maximum salary for all university administrators , cuts to the highest salaries with reinvestments of these cuts into support for low-paid employees, a freeze on tuition and fees, and a Board of Trustees that is truly representative and democratic.
The future of the university must be shaped by commitments to equity, fairness, and access. It is clear that OSU upper management desires the opposite. They have proven incapable of meeting the real needs of the university’s student and employee population, and have displayed a consistent disregard for the health and sustainability of the surrounding community.
Therefore, we demand the following:
- Caps on salaries at $186k and cuts to any current salaries in excess of this amount.
- A freeze on tuition and fees.
- Investment in affordable housing.
- Redistribution of funds into a universal meal program for students and employees; guaranteed summer funding for all graduate employees; increases in compensation for all non-managerial staff, faculty, and adjuncts; and immediate reductions in student fees.
- A Board of Trustees that is truly representative of the working people of Oregon.
Oregon State University acts more like a commercial enterprise than a public college. This is a consequence of the university being controlled by a small group of wealthy individuals who view college as, above all else, an opportunity for profit-making. Bold changes are required for OSU to become inclusive and equitable, and these changes begin with demands for a maximum salary for all university employees, cuts to the highest salaries with reinvestments of these cuts into support for the lowest earners, a freeze on tuition and fees, and a Board of Trustees that is representative and democratic.
Upper management at OSU have concentrated wealth and power into their hands, and this comes at the expense of undergraduate students, graduate employees, staff, and faculty who do the real work that keeps this university running every day. Over the course of the past ten years, upper management’s cumulative salaries have increased by more than $32 million—a 36% increase—while tuition has grown by 91% over the same timespan. The lowest paid upper-level manager makes 13 times more than the lowest paid salaried employee. President Ed Ray earns 16 times more than the median income household in Corvallis. President Ray, Provost Feser, and Financial Officer Mike Green can all afford to take immediate pay cuts. Nobody should become part of the 1% while working in higher education.
State legislators have become reluctant to expand funding for Oregon public universities because they understand that funding packages will be disproportionately distributed to bloated administrations, coaches salaries, and building projects instead of investments in classrooms and quality education. Despite this, state funding for Oregon higher education has reached record highs and still the trend of increasing tuition and stagnant wages for the real workforce continues.
Every year upper-management claims the university is in some type of financial crisis due to forces beyond their control, and they use whatever convenient claim they can to twist the facts so that it seems like the university has scarce resources and nothing can be done about it. This narrative is premised on a number of myths contradicted by facts:
Myth: enrollment is down.
Fact: enrollment is staggeringly high. OSU has exploded in student population over the past ten years, going from less than 20,000 students in 2008 to now reaching past 30,000. What OSU actually means is that enrollment is lower than their projections, rather than the real data.
Myth: we are in a budget crisis.
Fact: the budget is not the same as revenue or assets. OSU has an endowment of 1 billion dollars. It is insulting to the students, grads, staff, and faculty who actually struggle with poverty to hear OSU pretend to be a pauper while walking the marble staircase of the Memorial Union.
The real crisis is upper management, and the concentration of wealth and power at the top of OSU.
The future of the university must be shaped by commitments to equity, fairness, and access and it is clear that OSU upper management desires the opposite. They have proven incapable of meeting the real needs of the university’s student and employee population, and have displayed a consistent disregard for the health and sustainability of the surrounding community.
Therefore, the following conditions must be met as a starting point for a structural shift in the operations of OSU to lead us all into a better future:
- An immediate cap on all OSU employee salaries of no more than $186,000 a year, including the salaries of athletic coaches;
- Cuts to existing salaries in excess of the proposed cap;
- Redistribution of funds from these cuts into the creation of a universal meal program for all students and employees at OSU; guaranteed summer funding for all graduate employees; increases in compensation for all non-managerial staff, faculty, and adjuncts; and immediate reductions in student fees;
- An immediate freeze on tuition and fees along with a commitment to use the surplus created by salary caps to reduce these costs;
- Significant investment in affordable housing for students and employees to ease rising Corvallis rents, and support for housing first initiatives;
- Creation of new standards that all appointed members of OSU’s Board of Trustees are residents of Oregon with at least one representative guaranteed for all OSU’s satellite campus locations, are either currently enrolled at the university or have employment with OSU, and a net wealth (including annual income, home mortgages, and retirement savings) of less than $400,000;
- All existing Trustees that do not meet the above criteria immediately resign from their position so that they can be replaced with candidates that satisfy these standards.
Imposing an immediate salary cap at $186,000 would cause no one economic hardship, and produce an instant surplus of $8.5 million. This amount would not be one time, this would be a permanent cost savings for each year that could be redistributed back into actual educational initiatives, such as reducing fees and tuition, paying higher salaries for faculty, staff, and graduate employees, making commitments to long-term employee contracts for the OSU workforce, and so much more.
With a Board of Trustees composed of those who are actually impacted by university decisions, as well as representative of the real multi-racial and multi-gender working-class who make up the majority of OSU, these changes in budgeting priorities would be subject to a population aware of the needs of the majority and willing to place strategic investments in the right areas. Darrald Callahan, former CEO of Chevron Oil, has no legitimacy serving on the highest governing board of this university. Faculty, staff, grads, and undergrads deserve to be in positions of governance-- not corporate and political elites.
President Ray, Provost Feser, Financial Officer Mike Green
From: [Your Name]
Without immediate action, OSU’s power and resources will continue to concentrate at the very top while the needs of students, staff, faculty, graduate employees and Corvallis community members are ignored. We demand that Provost Feser, President Ray, and Financial Officer Mike Green immediately make a binding agreement to meeting the above demands, and that all Board of Trustees members who do not meet the above criteria resign from their positions as trustees.
My name and signature below indicates my commitment to the well-being of Corvallis and OSU in the pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive university.