SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom voted Tuesday against giving the new chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley a $50,000 pay raise over what his predecessor earns, saying salary increases for public officials are inappropriate given the state's bleak financial condition.
The two politicians said during a meeting of the University of California's governing board that they fully supported the selection of Columbia University Dean Nicholas Dirks as Berkeley's 10th chancellor, and they joined the rest of the board in approving his appointment.
But both said they could not endorse his $486,800 base salary even though the bump in pay is expected to be covered through private donations. It passed without their backing with an 11-3 vote.
"I believe a $50,000 increase from the incumbent — even though the incumbent did not get a pay increase for several years — does not fit within the spirit of servant leadership that I think will be required over the next several years," Brown said. "We can all agree this issue is much bigger than anyone's salary, but I want to put my marker down."
The governor added that he made a commitment to voters who approved Proposition 30, which raises the statewide sales tax and boosts income taxes on the wealthy, that he would spend the state's money wisely. The University of California as a whole needs to be restructured as part of that process, he said.
Dirks, Columbia's executive vice president and dean of the faculty for arts and sciences, is set to replace outgoing Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau on June 1. Birgeneau's base salary is $436,800.
One other regent, Charlene Zettel, an appointee of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, joined Brown and Newsom in voting for the appointment of Dirks but against his compensation package, which also includes an annual car allowance of $8,916 and a house on the Berkeley campus.
Several of the 11 regents who endorsed Dirks' salary noted that the pay raise would be funded by private donations to UC Berkeley's foundation, and that even with the $50,000 increase, Dirks would be making less than his counterparts at most other major public universities.
"On this particular compensation, I would just point out that we are dealing with the No. 1 public university in the world," Regent George Kieffer said. "The compensation for this chancellor is below that of all the major universities in the country it competes with and many of the universities it does not compete with."
Meeting by teleconference, the regents also approved the appointment of Jane Close Conoley, dean of the UC Santa Barbara Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, as acting chancellor of UC Riverside.
Board members, including Brown and Newsom, unanimously approved paying Conoley $245,600.