Sierra College administrative pay revealed

State Controller soon to require all community colleges to report salaries
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Nineteen Sierra College administrators make $100,000 or more a year, totaling over $2.5 million annually. Sierra College administrators say those top salaries are mainly awarded to deans and associate deans, while board members say only a fraction of administrators make $100K annually. Students say they agree administrators should continue to earn more for the responsibilities that come with the job, but students and faculty should have a fair amount of resources spent on their needs, too. By April 2012 the State Controller’s Office says all community colleges will be required to report employee salaries on the State Controller’s website. Sierra College Board President Aaron Klein said less than half of the administration makes a salary in the six-figures. “We have about 55 administrators, so 35 out of our 55 administrators are actually paid less than that,” Klein said. At American River College, in the Los Rios Community College District, the highest paid administrator is also the President, David Viar. He makes a range of $169,390 to $180,369, according to Stephen Peithman, Public Information Officer for American River College. Peithman said there about 38,000-38,500 students enrolled at American River College, one of four community colleges in the Los Rios Community College District. Each college within the district has its own administration, including a president at each site. Sierra College has about 20,000 students. Sue Michaels, Sierra College Marketing and Communications Director, said it is important to remember that Sierra College has multiple campus sites. It does not have a Chancellor’s Office as do neighboring districts, such as Los Rios Community College District. The chancellor of Los Rios Community College District, Brice Harris, receives a total of $390,035 in compensation and bonuses. “Sierra College is one district with multiple campuses, so we have four campuses and one administration for all four,” Michaels said. Michaels said deans and associate deans manage a large number of class sections and faculty. Subhead: Why does pay differ among districts? Willy Duncan, Sierra College president and superintendent, said the reason for such a difference in salaries among California Community College administration could be related to each district’s board of trustees. “We have individual, local boards. Each community college district has its own local trustees who decide as to what they think the proper pay is for a chancellor, a president, a dean. It might have to do with the unique situation at each of those districts,” Duncan said. Duncan said the complexity of the job and size of Sierra College warrant a fairly compensated administration. “We have 1,200 employees,” Duncan said. “If you compare us to say a private sector employer of that size, I think our management salaries would be very reasonable. It’s a big job. There is a lot to do.” Debra Sutphen, Dean of Liberal Arts at Sierra College, said her department comprises 46 percent of full-time equivalent students. She said being a dean or associate dean means managing a large staff and being available 24 hours a day. Her duties range from managing personnel, to fielding student complaints and responding to study abroad emergencies. “In any given year we have to evaluate all of the staff in our division — 400 part-time faculty, 100 full-time faculty,” Sutphen said. “It’s the best job in the world. I love what I do.” Sutphen said although nearly half of the students at Sierra College are enrolled in Liberal Arts programs, she makes the same as the deans of other departments. Newly-hired deans are also started at the same as her current pay, although she has been a dean for seven years, and there are no longer cost of living increases. “We hope to change that. You know, it isn’t fair,” Sutphen said. Subhead: State Controller has plans to publicize more The State Controller’s Office says taxpayers should be aware of how public funds are spent, including those at community colleges. “We are hoping to have everything by April 2012. I don’t know how long it will take to go through the data,” said Jacob Roper, a spokesperson for State Controller John Chiang. “I don’t have an exact time frame.” Roper said community colleges have never been required to report salaries to the State Controller’s office. Duncan said he thinks the public has a right to see how their tax dollars are being spent and supports the move to put salaries online. All of the salaries for employees in the California State University System are currently posted on the State Controller’s office website. Nelson said even if less were spent on the salaries of administrators he isn’t sure that would benefit students in any way. “I don’t know if you tried to augment salaries that would make that much of a difference,” Nelson said. “A lot of those programs come from special funding. I think there is a really kind of complex picture.” Reach Sara Seyydin at _______________________________________________________ Student body president weighs in on administrative salaries Book fees, class cuts student concerns, he says Andrew Nelson, Sierra College student body president, said in the tough economic times pay of administrators is probably being scrutinized more. “This disparity of income between the haves and the have-nots, whether it’s a teacher or business employee, I think it becomes much more noticeable to see administration making more,” Nelson said. “As an idea, obviously, it would be better to say let’s try to close this disparity.” Nelson said he does believe administration has more responsibility and in turn should make more, but would like to see things distributed fairly. “I think administration does deserve a higher pay check,” Nelson said. “Where is the focus? Where are the financials and the support coming from? Is it to faculty or administration or students that are really at the crux of it?” Many students aren’t complaining about staff salaries, he said, but rather textbook prices and cuts to classes and programs. “From what I am hearing from students they are focused on book prices at the bookstore and they are focused on whether they can get classes or whether they are going to get into a program,” Nelson said. “When our money comes from the state, we are basically at the mercy of what that budget becomes. What I hear from students are all of the consequences. I don’t know if they are making those connections.”