Some sabbatical …

When Manuel Esteban was preparing to retire as president of Chico State University, he was awarded a full year “transition” sabbatical at a salary of $208,000, plus full benefits. The “transition” sabbatical was supposed to be used in preparation for his return to the classroom.

After he’d collected that tidy sum, however, and earned two years of service credit for his one year of not working, he decided to retire. He did “work” one additional year, serving as special assistant to the chancellor with a salary of $93,711 for that part-time slot. Beats teaching any day.

Taking money for services not rendered is called “fraud” in the real world. It’s called a “sabbatical” in the upper echelons of the education racket, where deans and chancellors and presidents make the rules, in collusion with the other honchos who sit on the boards that are supposed to monitor them. The situation has gotten rather cozy and pretty far removed from what was once seen as the Ivory Tower, a place where academics went about seeking truth and nurturing youth apart from the hustle of the harsher world beyond those towers.

But hustlers are in the towers now, and everyone is poorer for it. And it’s not just the diversions of taxpayer money to reward specious service. The very integrity of higher education is compromised.

Accepting nearly a quarter of a million dollars to “retool” for a brief return to the classroom is bad enough as a wasteful expenditure of education monies, but it’s even worse when the man who takes that money does not see a problem with his failure to carry out the work for which that sabbatical money was paid.

Esteban is just another in that legion of California educrats who feature themselves victimized and underpaid compared to their role models in the world of corporate CEOs, so any way they feather their nests is legitimized. But is Corporate America the best role model for Higher Education? We think not.

“I’ve always felt that we were treated fairly in the CSU,” Esteban said in a recent interview.


Like their brethren in the UC system, state university administrators have made a fine art out of ensuring their own good treatment, and it’s costing us all much more than money.