In the wake of the California State University system's 12 percent tuition hike and a $100,000 pay increase for San Diego State University's new president, 10News has learned the house he lives in free of charge has undergone $148,000 in improvements that include new paint, window replacements, carpeting and $43,000 worth of kitchen upgrades.
University House is located in the exclusive neighborhood known as Alvarado Estates. It's the home now occupied by Elliott Hirshman, San Diego State's new president.
According to the real estate website Zillow.com, University House is worth more than $1.1 million. Rent for the property would cost an estimated $5,309 per month -- which is more than $63,000 per year.
"It seems as if the extravagance of the CSU knows no end," said Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.
Yee is outraged by what he called the excessive salary and perks of top CSU administrators, and he is re-introducing legislation to make sure state universities can't increase administrators' paychecks when state funding is down.
"These administrators who make those kinds of arguments just make really poor role models for our students," Yee told 10News reporter Allison Ash. "You ought to be teaching our students that when you come into public service you're not going to get rich, but rather your goal there is a more noble one, and that is to provide the leadership for these students so that they can be the leaders of the next generation."
When asked about the renovations to the house Hirshman now calls home, Yee questioned the need for the costly fix-up at a time when so many Californians are struggling to make ends meet.
"Who in the world does that?" he asked, saying the money would be better spent on students.
"It's important to note that no state funds, no student fees, no money that could have been used for academic purposes was used for this," said SDSU spokesman Greg Block.
Block said the university's Campanile Foundation paid for the renovations, and $68,000 of the money spent came from private donations, specifically for the University House face-lift.
"It's really easy to point fingers," said Block. "It's questionable to question where someone gives their money."
Block explained that the house is a key fundraising platform for the university, hosting 24 events each year. Oftentimes those events end with philanthropists writing big checks to the University, "and the president's the one who seals the deal," said Block.
However, some students don't see it that way.
"They could put that money towards lowering our tuition costs," said SDSU international business major Regan Cole.
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