By Peter Phillips
After 24 years as President of Sonoma State University Ruben Armiñana has finally announced his retirement at the faculty convocation August 24. Faculty and staff are smirking in the hallways with glee and clearly hoping Armiñana’s last year will not be a capstone of mismanagement and more debt for SSU.
Also at the faculty convocation SSU student body president Brandon Mercer announced that the Green Music Center is $800,000 in deficit and bail out money will need to come from the general fund for several years into the future. Faculty had long been promised by the SSU Administration that the Green Music Center would completely pay for itself and never dip into campus funds.
According to the Press Democrat (8/25/15), Larry Schlereth, the university’s chief financial officer and co-executive director of the music center, said later the $800,000 figure was outdated. He said the center’s projected deficit now stands at about $300,000.
Whatever the Green Music deficit, the faculty are outraged feeling lied to for over fifteen years. “Let the rich bastards pays for the deficit,” said one full professor openly in an afternoon school meeting after the convocation.
The opportunity costs of the $140 million dollar Green Music Center was the primary reason faculty voted no confidence in Armiñana by 73% in 2007. Opportunity costs are the use of available campus resources for building projects in place of support for academic programs. SSU professor salaries rank dead last among all the CSU campuses. There has been a net decrease in tenure faculty over the past ten years,sonoma-seal while SSU has increased students by 42%. SSU faculty in 2012 was approximately 222 tenure and tenure track professors, where as SSU had over 260 tenure and tenure track faculty ten years earlier. At the same time SSU student population rose from 6,600 in 2005 to 9,400 in 2015. Faculty are teaching more students with less staff, and class sizes have increased dramatically. Waiting lists for classes are some of the higher ever recorded.
Recruitment for a new SSU president is scheduled to begin this fall. Perhaps a better plan would be to have the faculty elected an acting president from among our ranks at a dean’s salary of $150,000 and apply the difference to the Green Music Center until a remedy for the deficit can be achieved.