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Cal State Fullerton Spends $300K To Renovate Home Of Incoming President

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FULLERTON (CBS) — Not only will incoming Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia get a 10 percent raise, by the time she arrives on campus, the school will spend $300,000 to renovate the eight-bedroom historical home where she will live.

After nearly $750 million in budget cuts over the 2011-12 year, the Cal State University system is planning to cut enrollment for the 2013-14 year by up to 25,000 students.  CSU faculty this week started a two-week vote to decide whether the union should launch a statewide strike.

But those grim numbers haven’t stopped the Cal State University Board of Trustees from voting to give Garcia a base salary of $324,500, in addition to free housing at the presidential estate and a $12,000 per-year car allowance, according to California Watch.

CSUF began working on fixing up Garcia’s future home, the historic C. Stanley Chapman house, also known as El Dorado Ranch, in March. El Dorado Ranch boasts two stories, eight bedrooms, 5,800 square feet on 3.9 acres and a tennis court. It was last assessed at $3.4 million in 2011, California Watch reported.

The residence also serves as a reception facility for the university.

Dave Bryan, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, says the renovations are not sitting well with many on campus. He spoke to two history professors — Steve Jobbitt and Ray Rast — who find the expenditures on the president’s house excessive and unwise.

Rast says, “This is something that is hard to explain to my class. They look at that amount — and for those of us who are teaching it’s an astronomical amount — I think of how many years I would have to work to make that kind of money, on the salary I have.”

Jobbitt also says professors, students and staff have been suffering monetarily, but the school’s executives haven’t done their fair share. “A few years ago, teachers took a 10 percent pay cut — to save the university. Students have seen a 318 percent tuition hike over ten years. We all have to suffer for the good of the university. And Garcia gets a 10 percent raise, on top of making $300,000 a year. And now the renovations to the house.”

For their part, the school told Bryan they had no choice but to make the renovations. The house was built in 1919 and hasn’t been renovated in more than 60 years.

The house was in major need of upgrades, says the school. The house had lead paint, asbestos, antiquated plumbing and electrical systems.

University spokesman Christopher Bugbee told California Watch that the renovations won’t be paid out from state funding, but rather from surplus revenue from one or more the campus auxiliary organizations.

For the cost of renovating El Dorado Ranch, the university could pay for roughly 49 full scholarships for Cal State Fullerton students, California Watch reported.

Bryan reports many in the state legislature are also questioning the huge renovation expenditure. State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) says, “As you can imagine, I, along with many other individuals in the state legislature are absolutely outraged that you have at the head of a university to say it is okay to spend $300,000 when we’re cutting courses and we’re raising student fees. It is just unconscionable she would be asking for this expenditure on her behalf.”

School officials told Bryan the incoming president had “nothing” to do with ordering the renovations and had no control over it.

The school said an original estimate to bring the home up to code was about $1 million but they cut it down to $300,000.

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