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Stanislaus welcomes new spokesperson; Faculty baulk at cost of new position

POSTED January 26, 2010 9:54 p.m.
California State University, Stanislaus hired Eve Hightower to serve as interim director of Media Relations on Thursday, though some faculty believe the new salary could have been better spent on additional classes.
Hightower, whose employment contract is set to last six months, will be in charge of CSU Stanislaus communications with media, community members, and the campus community. Those duties were previously handled by CSU Stanislaus Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Kristen Olsen, who will now focus solely on legislative, marketing, and internal publication efforts.
“CSU Stanislaus plays a vital role in educating and serving this region,” Hightower said. “When I started hurdling for my (Johansen) High School track and field team, I was coached by a CSU Stanislaus athlete. So I know the University's service extends well beyond the campus in a variety of ways. I am pleased to be a part of it.”
Hightower’s hiring was said to be unrelated to Olsen’s recently announced run for the vacant 25th district state Assembly seat. The new position was on the drawing board for more than six months.
“This position is meant to promote the entire University,” Hightower said. “I look forward to partnering with students, faculty and staff to meet that goal.”
Hightower, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and most recently served as Communications Director for State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), will earn $33,504 over her six-month contract, or $5,584 per month. The temporary position may be renewed following the half-year initial stint, and Hightower says she would like to continue on if the University finds merit in the position.
CSU Stanislaus faculty have taken issue with the hiring, which they believe redirects funds that could be better spent on education.
“We have limited dollars,” said Steven Filling, Professor of Accounting and speaker of the Academic Senate. “We can spend $60,000 hiring someone to explain the budget to the media … or we could have 12 classes for that amount. I’d much rather have 12 classes.”
For the fall 2009 term, 108 faculty members were not reappointed due to budget cuts. CSU Stanislaus lost 16 percent of their full-time faculty in the recent cuts — 3 percentage points more than the CSU average — and canceled 144 classes for the fall 2009 term.
Hightower said that her salary came from administrative salaries, and did not have a direct impact on classes. She said that it was her understanding that her salary — like all others — came from the General Fund, which is a discretionary fund that can be used for any purpose.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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