When Del M. Anderson accepted the position as chancellor of the
City College of San Francisco (CCSF), she knew she wasn’t walking into
the ideal situation. There had been relatively few applicants for the
job, the pay was lower than she expected for such a large urban
institution, and there was much work to be done in building community
She took the job anyway. It was a step up from her position as
president of the San Jose City College, and it was an opportunity to
prove what she could do under challenging circumstances.
“The salary was lower than average for chancellor of a district
this size,” she said. “But the board seemed like a good one to work
with, so I decided to take it and maybe if I did a terrific job they
would raise it.”
So in August 1995, Anderson became the first woman president of the
77,000-student college. After setting priorities and addressing all the
goals she outlined to the board in the last eighteen months, Anderson
asked for that raise — and got it.
She now has the highest base salary among her colleagues in the
state’s 106-college system, and is among the highest in the nation. Her
salary even eclipses that of her boss, chancellor of the state
community college system, by more than $20,000.
“I’ve done a very good job in a very short period of time,” Anderson said.
In December, the CCSF board voted to raise Anderson’s compensation
— through cost-of-living, step and merit increases — from $144,000 to
more than $156,000. In a commendation of her management, the board
cited her exemplary accomplishments.
During her tenure, she outlined and met twenty-five specific goals,
Anderson said. Among them were her efforts in getting the college’s
first bond referendum, which voters will decide in June.
Not everyone praised Anderson’s leadership and subsequent reward,
however. Faculty have protested the raise and questioned her
performance. Noting that Anderson secured a substantial increase in pay
over her previous post, history instructor Austin White said the
faculty questions the board’s judgment in awarding the latest increase.
“Many faculty, staff, and students are hard-pressed to think of
anything significant she has accomplished here despite her assertion
that, `I’m considered one of the best in the state,'” White wrote in
the San Francisco Chronicle.
He also noted that it takes a full-time faculty member at City
College more than two decades to reach the top faculty salary of
But Anderson defends her compensation, noting that management of
the district was shared by a chancellor and two presidents a few years
ago. The duties were consolidated and one leadership post was retained.
It now falls on her shoulders, according to Anderson, to improve the
college’s performance and visibility in the community.
Around California, the mean salary for a CEO of a single-campus
community college like CCSF was $103,492 in 1995-96, according to a
survey by the California Postsecondary Education Commission. The lowest
salary in the state was about $83,000. The salaries vary according to
the institution — whether it is a single- or multicampus college, or a
multi-college district — according to Penny Edgert, the commission’s
assistant director of academic programs and policy.
However, comparisons to other community college CEOs around the
state and country can be misleading. Although her base salary is higher
than most, Anderson was unable to negotiate a housing allowance, a car
or other perks that some presidents have been able to win. Some
colleges offer benefits worth thousands of dollars above and beyond
And the compensation paid to CEOs of four-year institutions is
often double that of community college leaders. In California, the
community college chancellor, in charge of a system of 106 colleges and
1.2 million students, earns $135,000, with an opportunity for another
$10,000 in merit bonuses, officials say. That salary was raised more
than $20,000 recently after more than a year-long search that turned up
few qualified candidates for the position left open when Dr. David
Mertes retired. It is still lower than most other CEOs in the system.
Among the other higher education sectors, chancellors earn
considerably more, Edgert said. The chancellor of the University of
California System, which has nine campuses and approximately 175,000
students, earns about $240,000 a year, and the California State
University chancellor, in charge of twenty-two campuses and 350,000
students, earns approximately $ 190,000.
With a recent history of high turnover in the community college
system, salary levels has been an issue, Edgert said. As many as
three-fourths of president and chancellor positions around the system
have been empty at one time. Some urban districts, such as Los Angeles,
have had several changes in their leadership within just a few years.
“The average life-expectancy of a community college chancellor in
California is 3.2 years,” Anderson said. “People are not able to do it
for very long. I’m working fourteen-hour days and I’m out in the
community three or four nights a week. They should be paying me more.”
COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com