Chronicles Special Edition II: Response to Provost Ochoa
June 29, 2010
By Co-Authors, SSU Chronicles
In response to two opinion pieces in the Press Democrat (June 19, 2010) that expressed critical
views of SSU’s administration, now former Provost Eduardo Ochoa presented his own idealistic
and partisan views of President Arminana’s legacy. Few would disagree with the Provost that
faculty and programs at SSU offer an excellent education and outstanding opportunities for our
students. None would disagree that state budget cuts have severely damaged SSU and its
abilities. Most might even argue that the Green Music Center (GMC) would have been a good
thing, if it had been finished on schedule in summer 2006 (SSUAF audit, 2003, pg. 7), and if
President Arminana had downsized the project with the downsized economy rather than
aggrandize it. Many wonder what SSU might have been like today with a smaller music center,
where SSU’s Bach Choir might actually be able to afford to sing. All worry what the future holds
for a small state university struggling to support a “world-class” music center. The $20 million
project is now $120 million plus with $2 million in annual operating costs.
Provost Ochoa, however, is entitled to his opinions along with the rest of us. In the interests of
transparency, dialog, and keeping the administration honest, we reply to those portions of his
article that attempt to revise history or that use questionable numbers. It is always important to
question the numbers (even from those with whom one agrees in principle). Where did they
come from? Are they accurate? How are they being used? Are they meaningful or window-
In his well-intentioned but flawed argument, the former Provost responded to many statements
not made, creating straw men easy to dismantle. In the interests of academic integrity, we use
direct quotes from the Provosts’ longer on-line opinion, prior to our rebuttal.
References are provided at the end and we will answer any questions asked on SenateTalk or
Faculty and Staff for Quality Education and will gladly correct any errors of fact. Provost Ochoa
provided no references, but then his was a “Guest Opinion.”
Revisionist History: No Confidence Vote
The former Provost said: “The vote of no confidence to which they refer took place … under a
unique set of circumstances: Draconian budget cuts across the CSU driven by the state budget
crisis; an immediately preceding California State University-wide strike vote by the faculty union
membership; a last-minute settlement which narrowly averted the strike; an opportunistic motion
to carry out a vote at the end of the semester, with no time to debate the issues. Under these
circumstances the vote can be better understood as a general expression of SSU faculty’s
unhappiness about the limited resources available to support their work, rather than a judgment
about its cause.”
This is wishful thinking and revisionist history on Provost Ochoa’s part. The faculty had been
working without a union contract for years and a strike was under discussion, but not popular.
The Union negotiated a contract, which the faculty system-wide passed on May 6, 2007. The
CSU Board of Trustees approved the contract on May 14, 2007. It promised General Salary
Increases in the neighborhood of 25 percent (compounded) by July 2010 (most did not happen).
A vote of no confidence in President Arminana had been under general discussion for a long
time. The resolution on the no-confidence vote listed three rationales with supporting details:
• President Arminana has failed to ensure appropriate levels of funding to support the
institutional mission of teaching and learning.
• His fiscal priorities have left the financial support of student learning dangerously
• He has failed to engage, utilize, and support the problem-solving capabilities of faculty
governance, including failure to follow the new University Consultation Policy, which he
The resolution passed the Academic Senate on May 10, 2007 by a vote of 27 to 7, with 1
abstention, authorizing a vote of the general faculty. The faculty approved the resolution by
73.4% on May 18. The turn out was largest ever for a SSU faculty initiative (68 percent). Over
50 percent of the eligible faculty at SSU asserted no confidence in the leadership of President
Arminana. The no-confidence vote had been debated among faculty before its presentation and
continued to be so in the on-line forum referenced below. Faculty had already been promised
raises by the CSU before the vote. This was decidedly not a referendum on the CSU.
The Provost continued: “More relevant than a vote which took place three years ago is the fact
that this spring a motion to carry out another vote of no confidence died on the Academic Senate
floor after being severely criticized by several senators.”
The administration did everything in their power to delay, derail, and disrupt this most recent
resolution for an assessment of the President and CFO through a campus-wide referendum.
Rumors spread that such a vote would only delay the departure of the targeted individuals;
procedural motions lengthened the process and questioned technical points. SSU athletes, many
in uniform, visited the Academic Senate during the discussion in a dramatic and disruptive show
of support for the administration. Since many of the coaches were present and participated, one
wonders what motivated this behavior. It is worth noting that SSU Athletics recently moved to
Administration and Finance. Coaches received raises in 2008-2009 with a significant increase in
funding for the department (almost $400,000) last year, a year of financial cuts and struggle
(Expenditure Plan 2009-2010, pp. 87; 115-120).
The main argument put forth against the most recent referendum revolves around the first having
achieved no results. If the goal of the first resolution was the President’s resignation, this is true.
If, however, the goal, as stated by its proponents, was to increase attention to the academic
mission, at least some of the recent achievements cited by the Provost Ochoa may stem from the
vote and the continued pressure.
The recent resolution did not die, as the former Provost says, it was tabled by the author, as
reported in the Press Democrat (April 29, 2010). It can be revisited at a later date.
Student Faculty Ratio (SFR)
The former Provost said, “SSU’s student faculty ratio of 23.1 and average class size of 28.8 for
2008-2009 were below the CSU averages (24.4 and 32.1 respectively) in the fall of 2009.”
The Provost has his academic years confused. Fall 2009 is AY 09-10. In Fall 2008, SSU’s
student faculty ratio (SFR) at 23.3 was higher than the CSU at 22.6. But the figures for Fall 2009
The figures used by Provost Ochoa for SFR and average class size for SSU and CSU wide are
taken from a CSU webpage. Unlike the other campuses, however, SSU proudly advertises its
membership in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), whose educational
mission is “small class size, close faculty-student interaction, an innovative curriculum, and a
commitment to civic engagement.” At only a student below the average SFR and a few students
below the average class size, SSU is no longer distinct, if we ever were, from the other 22 CSU
campuses, most of which are much larger campuses with larger classrooms.
Few can disagree that SFRs have climbed substantially in this decade. For example, the School
of Social Sciences faculty has seen an increase of over 30 percent. We also note that the Provost
did not choose to deal with the fact that the campus has added over 2000 FTES in the last few
years while increasing the number of permanent faculty by a total of four. Members of the
Academic Planning Committee (APC) have had heated debate with Provost Ochoa over the
methods now used to calculate SSU’s SFR.
Faculty Pay Raises
The former Provost stated: “During the six-year period from 2003-2009, faculty received annual
pay raises all six years, while administrators received three annual raises.”
The Provost is incorrect regarding faculty raises in all six years. The Collective Bargaining
Agreements (CBA) indicate that faculty received annual raises in only two of the six years. The
CBA that expired June 30, 2005, shows no General Salary Increases (GSI) in 03-04 or 04-05.
The current CBA lists a 3 percent increase on July 1, 2006, and a 1 percent increase on June 30,
2007 for 06-07. For 07-08 the CBA lists 3.7 percent on July 1, 2007 and 2 percent on June 30,
2008. GSIs for 08-09 (3% and 2%) and 09-10 (4% and 2%) were rescinded. This equals an
actual GSI raise of 10.2 percent (compounded) between 2003 and 2009.
The Provost is correct: Administrators (MPPs) received three annual raises in these years in 05-
06, 06-7, and 07-08. While faculty receive a set GSI negotiated by their union, MPPs are not in a
union and receive Merit Salary Increases. Merit increases in theory should mirror GSIs; in
practice, they are determined on an individual basis by the top administrators. In addition, MPPs
serve at the will of the President who can give them new or additional duties and raises at any
In reviewing the compensation histories of the 10 top paid SSU administrators, none have
received increases since 07-08. All, however, received substantial increases ranging from 10 to
56 percent between 2005 and 2007, with an average increase of 25.6 percent for the period
(excluding those new to SSU).
The White and Karlsrud piece was not specific regarding how administrators pay rates increased
during the most recent budget crisis. The President gave some administrators raises to reclassify
them because they took on additional duties. Faculty continue to take on additional duties with
no additional compensation. Faculty increases are set by the Union in negotiations. The President
determines administrators’ pay increases.
None of the former Provost’s assertions, however, alter the fact that at SSU full and associate
professors’ salaries are the lowest in the system, while some 17 or more administrators earn
salaries in excess of $140,000, according to a database posted by the Sacramento Bee.
Fundraising and the GMC
The former Provost said: “Of the nearly $89 million contributed to the University over the past
10 years, 57 percent has been designated by donors to support scholarships, athletics,
endowments, and academic programs.”
As the Foundation records are not public record for this 10-year period, it is impossible to verify
the Provost’s numbers. This is what State Senator Yee’s SSB 8330, Transparency Bill, seeks to
remedy. Twenty percent of the CSU overall $6.7 billion budget or $1.34 billion is kept out of
Even if the Provost is correct in his numbers, $38.2 million still went to projects, presumably the
GMC, that are not directly connected with the academic mission. It is very difficult to
reconstruct gifts to and from the Foundation with available financial statements as the data
presentation detail changes over the years.
As of June 2008, the Foundation had a commitment of $43 million to the GMC, which was then
projected to cost a mere $87 million (SSUAF audit, June 08, pg. 30). As of June 2003, the
Foundation had already exceeded $17.5 million in fundraising with another $4 million in pledges
(SSUAF audit, June 2003, pg. 7). In March 2008, the Press Democrat reported that $53.2M had
been raised for the GMC, but that the Foundation needed to raise another $21M to finish
construction. Table 1 lists Foundation “gifts” to SSU as shown on available SSUAF audited
Table 1: Foundation “Gifts” to SSU
FY year GMC Programs Scholarships Total Reference
2009 $11,908,442 $1,278,417 $746,303 $13,933,162 Audit 09, pg. 7
2008 $21,006,290 $378,647 $752,491 $22,139,436 Audit 08, pg. 7
2007 $239,373 $401,934 $762,989 $1,406,303 Audit 07, pg. 7
2006 $83,780 $556,287 $564,982 $1,207,055 Audit 06, pg. 7
2005 $356,993 $712,400 $513,161 $1,584,559 Audit 05, pg. 6
2004 no audit available
2003 $1,553,285 $359,592 $637,382 $2,552,262 Audit 03, pg. 7, 22
Total $35,148,163 $3,687,277 $3,977,308 $42,812,748
Percent 82.10% 8.61% 9.29% 100.00%
This matches CSU-provided data, showing over 75% of “gifts” to SSU being distributed to
Campus Improvements and Other in FY 2008-09, the most recent year for which data is
available. In that year, according to CSU, only 23.6% of all dollars from gifts to SSU went to the
endowment or to programs. This contrasts sharply with the over 80% average distribution to
these same categories for the rest of the campuses in the CSU. This is a matter of public record
available from the CSU website and from SSUAF audited financial statements.
Provost Ochoa stated: “According to the most recent audited financial statements, the
administrative budget is not ‘bloated’: SSU’s overhead as a percent of total campus expenses
are at 10.7 percent below the CSU average of 11.5 percent.”
Of course, financial statements do not make value judgments; they present numbers that are
subject to interpretation. He is correct: the “institutional support” figures, net of depreciation, as
a percent of total campus expenses do show SSU’s share at 10.7 percent and the CSU at 11.5
percent. What the former Provost hasn’t acknowledged is that the CSU total for institutional
support includes the Chancellor’s Office’s expenses in Long Beach, which are substantial.
Applying the same comparison to the audit listing for “instruction” shows 33.6 percent of SSU
campus expenses went toward instruction in comparison with the CSU figure of 40 percent,
which again includes the Chancellor’s Office that does no instruction per se. In no way can this
be interpreted as SSU focusing funding on students.
Again, no one from the administration, including the Provost, has been able to explain why SSU
has nearly twice as many managers in place as campuses of comparable size like San Marcos or
A Democratic GMC
The former Provost waxed poetic: “The vision of the Green Music Center is that of a profoundly
democratic institution, one that would bring students, faculty, and the community into a town
hall environment with superb acoustics and aesthetics hosting music and ideas for a new age….”
An inspiring vision, but doesn’t democracy revolve around shared decision-making? Faculty
governance has yet to be consulted in any meaningful way on any aspect of the GMC. The
GMC is a public-private venture using funds donated to the Foundation and monies supplied by
the State. Once complete, events at the GMC and Hospitality Center will need to cover their
costs, including debt service, or require a subsidy from the General Fund and/or sustained
fundraising (probably both). Long after Provost Ochoa has departed this campus for a “better”
job, SSU faculty, staff, and students, California taxpayers, and private donors will share any
The GMC must be finished and it must be managed as the world-class facility it was designed to
be. The question remains: how is this going to occur? Why has the Business Plan still not been
released? Is there a Hospitality Center Business Plan? So far all the administration has released is
a list of coming events—Friday happy hours, Sunday brunch, New Year’s, Valentine’s, and
Oscar parties. This is not a Business Plan it is a social calendar.
A GMC town hall meeting is years past due. Only when the campus community is made a party
to the plans to finish, launch, and operate the GMC can it comfortably share former Provost
Ochoa’s view of SSU’s bright future. Until then, the GMC is a foreboding symbol of dictatorial
decision-making and privilege.
Press Democrat Opinion Pieces
Eduardo Ochoa. “SSU Replies to Recent Funding Criticism.” June 19, 2010.
Peter Phillips and Noel Byrne. “More Fiscal Management Concerns at Sonoma State. ” June 9,
Tony White and Bob Karlsrud. “Students are not Focus of SSU Funding.” May 29, 2010.
No confidence vote
Senate Resolution, 2007
SSU Faculty Puts off Vote on Arminana. Press Democrat.
Steve Orlick SFR research: http://www.sonoma.edu/Senate/Currentinfo.html
Analysis of decline in funding for Schools and Tenure-Track Positions
Faculty Pay Raises
Collective Bargaining Agreements
May 2007-June 2010:
May 2002-June 2005:
NEA Special Salary Issue:
Top 500 salaries in CSU
Fundraising and the GMC
SSUAF tax returns
CSU data on gifts
Press Democrat. “Costs go up at SSU’s GMC.” March 7, 2008.
SSU 2009 Financial Statement
System-wide 2009 Financial Statement
MPPs per CSU
A Democratic GMC
GMC Business Plan http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080825/NEWS/808250306.