With the prolonged weak economy, higher education in California has suffered significant cutbacks. The California State University and University of California systems each have lost $650 million in funding for the current fiscal year. With lower than hoped for revenues, each system is likely to lose another $100 million.

As a result, tuition has risen sharply over the past few years, and faculty raises at CSU have been small. There were no raises in 2008-09, a 10 percent cut because of furloughs the next year and a minuscule .045 percent increase in 2010-11.

Faculty raises that were agreed upon in 2007 have been canceled by the CSU administration, which is now proposing there be no pay increase through the 2013-14 academic year.

During this time of shrinking state revenues, it is understandable that everyone has to make some sacrifices until the economy recovers. That means students will have to pay more for their education, and there won't be enough funds for significant pay increases for university employees.

When such sacrifices need to be made, it is critical that they be spread equitably among everyone who works for CSU and that there not be any favoritism.

Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the situation at CSU. Top administrators have received pay increases, including a $100,000 higher salary for the new president of San Diego State.

CSU has recently spent almost $6 million on equity and other raises for a few hundred management employees. At the same time, Chancellor Charles Reed has refused to agree to any faculty pay raises.

A third-party fact-finder, Philip Tamoush, believes the university has the means to grant at least some partial raises for faculty members. The settlement he recommended would cost about $10 million, but Reed remains opposed to the increase.

That is why the faculty at CSU are upset and plan a one-day strike Thursday at the East Bay and Dominguez Hills campuses and to stage protests at the university's 21 other campuses.

While we understand Reed's reluctance to increase faculty pay, we are puzzled by the university's agreement to boost administrative salaries and to raise the pay of San Diego State's president by $100,000.

It would make more sense to hold the line on top administrators' salaries and grant at least some nominal pay hikes, especially step increases, to faculty members.

The pay increases sought by CSU faculty are small but would at least indicate that the administration values its teachers as much as its managers.

We urge the CSU faculty and university administrators to try harder to reach a pay agreement that spreads the pain of budget cuts more equitably than is the case now.