Zingg shares bling

Chico State President Paul Zingg

Chico State President Paul Zingg

Photo By Tom Angel

Faced with a raise that brought his annual salary to nearly a quarter of a million dollars, Chico State University President Paul Zingg decided not to, say, buy a Hummer, but rather donate 10 percent of his net income to charity in the form of scholarships.

A raise approved by the CSU Board of Trustees on Oct. 27 boosted all 23 campus presidents’ salaries by 13.7 percent, including the usual 3.5 percent cost of living adjustment. It’s part of a five-year plan to bring all employees’ salaries closer to what the CSU system’s counterparts in comparable institutions nationwide earn, after a study revealed a 13.1-percent disparity in pay across the board.

Zingg’s raise totaled $32,748, bringing his salary to $237,756. Fourteen other CSU presidents make more than him, with Zingg’s former boss, Warren Baker of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, topping the list at $286,896.

Zingg said he never intended for word to get out about his philanthropic donation.

“It feels awkward to talk about my own personal giving,” he said. “I’m not doing it to make headlines, I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I’m a little embarrassed that this has gotten out.”

Zingg said it has long been his practice to donate 10 percent to the institutions at which he works, including at his last campus. He also plans to start a fund-raising campaign to add to the three existing “presidential scholarships.”

Colleen Bentley-Adler, spokesperson for the CSU, said that typically presidents’ salaries are increased after the chancellor reviews job performance, the complexity of each campus, fund-raising, community relations and other criteria.

The presidents also get an official residence or a housing allowance. Zingg’s is $50,000. “He has a 24-hour job,” Bentley-Adler said, which includes entertaining at his home. Trustees increased housing allowances for the first time since 2000. Zingg also gets a car allowance of $12,000 a year.

Bentley-Adler said that while she hasn’t heard about any other presidents donating back part of their salaries, they may be doing so without anyone knowing. As for Zingg, she said, “He’s just a nice guy.”