Better education through new counter tops

Money in the California State University system is scarce, which has resulted in nasty tuition hikes and budget cuts. The pain has been widespread — except when it comes to those at the top.

During the last decade, CSU has not only lavished pay increases on its top executives, it’s also spent $2 million on home renovations for university-owned presidential residences.

Mostly recently, CSU Fullerton shelled out $300,000 to remodel its El Dorado Ranch for new president Mildred Garcia. CSU Northridge, spent $115,000 for work on its president’s home.

But these are hardly the only cases. In 2011, San Diego State spent $257,000 on kitchen upgrades, new windows, pool re-plastering, and other cosmetic improvements.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo forked over $230,000 that same year for lighting replacement, kitchen upgrades and new wood flooring.

Clearly, universities need to maintain the residences they provide for their top men and women. Not only are they an important lure to attract top-tier leaders, these presidential mini-palaces often play host to guests and special events.

Still, there’s spending money to maintain a property, and then there’s being ridiculous. Is now really the time to blow that kind of money on frivolous improvements when everyone else is struggling?

As the Sac Bee points out, though, spending in this area accounts for only a small fraction of university system spending. Presidents who got the big home renovations have proven to be star fundraisers, bringing in millions of dollars to their universities.

Not all CSU schools provide housing directly to their presidents. Presidents at 12 schools receive a $60,000 annual housing allowance from CSU.