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CPP, CSU administrators left in the dust over chancellor’s assessment

By Matthew Acosta and Ryan Huynh, Mar. 22, 2022

In the wake of former California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro’s resignation, Cal Poly Pomona and CSU administrators have been left out of the loop regarding the announced Title IX assessment supposed to take place across the university system.

As part of his resignation, Castro was awarded a $400,000 compensation package as well as a teaching position at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo that he can choose to accept. The specifics of his compensation drew criticism from the California Faculty Association, as well as the process for the Title IX assessment which involved an outside law firm on behalf of the CSU system.

“An investigation is not independent when Trustees hire and pay a company that specializes in risk management and liability deferment to review systemic and structural problems with its policies and procedures,” read the CFA statement. “The Trustees have also decided that the review would be limited to a review of Fresno State, rather than a review of the system in its entirety.”

While the Chancellor’s Office has historically provided guidance on the subject, there is not currently a systemwide policy related to opportunities to return to faculty positions, known as “retreat rights.”

Castro was awarded the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professorship when he was appointed as chancellor, as he was also awarded a joint appointment with the rank of full professor with tenure, subject to faculty consultation.

Any campus seeking to offer an incoming administrator with the opportunity to return to a faculty position consults with the Chancellor’s Office prior to finalizing an agreement, and any offer letters would include language that indicates that individuals found to have engaged in significant misconduct would not be eligible to return to a faculty position.

Subsequent to his appointment, it was identified that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo would be the campus where Castro could exercise that opportunity upon conclusion of his service as chancellor. In fall 2020, his opportunity to return to a faculty position at the university was unanimously approved by the tenured faculty in the program. Castro has not yet indicated whether he plans on exercising that opportunity to return to the faculty.

Castro’s compensation package is based on his participation in the CSU’s Executive Transition Program, not his potential teaching position.

The CSU’s Executive Transition Program allows a university to benefit from the accumulated experience of an executive, such as chancellor, executive vice chancellor, vice-chancellor, or president, following their resignation, while also recognizing their years of service and contributions to the university system.

To be eligible, an executive must have served five years in an executive position at the CSU, be in good standing at the beginning of the executive transition program, have an identified position in the CSU to return to after completion of the transition program and not accept non-CSU employment.

Although he has not indicated his intention to accept the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professorship, Castro joined the Executive Transition Program after his resignation and will participate in that program for one year, according to CSU Senior Director of Public Affairs Michael Uhlenkamp.

The salary for executives who participate in the program is negotiated between that individual and the Board of Trustees and is typically calculated at the mid-point between the executive’s final salary and the maximum of the salary range for a full professor.

Castro’s compensation package includes paying him a total of $401,364 until February 2023, classifying him as an “advisor to the board,” allowing him the right to “retreat” to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next year as a tenured professor in the College of Business — a discipline that he does not hold a terminal degree in — and provide sick leave and benefits. The CSU will also give a six-month housing allowance of $7,917 per month and an additional $47,502 in housing allowance until August 2022.

The CSU has hired the law firm Cozen O’Connor to conduct its systemwide assessment of Title IX practices in response to the ongoing investigation. The specifics will be discussed during the upcoming CSU Board of Trustees meeting on March 22 and 23.

Due to the lack of information that has been provided to the entire CSU system, there is hope among CPP administrators that this meeting will provide clarity to a situation that has been handled mostly behind closed doors.

Dawnita Franklin, assistant vice president for institutional equity and compliance and Title IX coordinator of CPP, has lacked information from the CSU regarding the assessment.

“We haven’t heard anything from anybody at the Chancellor’s Office about anything that might happen with the assessment,” said Franklin. “Even my colleagues at other CSUs don’t really know what to expect since there are no details that were made available to us. So, we’re not entirely sure what resources we would need to help (the assessment).”

As for the student body, ASI has also not received any information that it could relay to students about the assessment.

“If you think of the CSU system as a map of the U.S., and we are basically states waiting to hear from the federal government,” said ASI President Prabhat Jammalamadaka. “But our hope is that like the U.S. government, that there will be accountability from the assessment and that we should be able to have trust in our institution.”

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