Jun 07 2012

LA TIMES: More than $1 million spent on home renovations for CSU presidents

More than $1 million in public and private funds have been spent over the last year or so to renovate university residences of several new California State University presidents, improvements officials say are necessary as the pressure on campus leaders to raise funds becomes more acute.

Repairs to many of the homes had been delayed for years and the transition to new campus leaders provided a natural window to conduct the remodels, Cal State officials said.

The $1 million is a small sum in a university system with about 420,000 students and more than $2 billion in state funding. But at a time of major cutbacks and spiraling fee increases, the money has become a potent symbol and a political issue on some campuses.

News of the renovations has also spotlighted the increasing demand on campus presidents to solicit outside funds, as state support for public higher education has declined. The university-owned homes, occupied by 11 of the 23 campus presidents, as well as Chancellor Charles B. Reed, serve as event centers for fundraisers and other occasions that annually involve hundreds, even thousands, of guests.

Twelve other campus presidents live in their own homes but receive annual housing allowances of $50,000 or $60,000.

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