SACRAMENTO (AP) — The chief executive of California’s $350 billion pension fund does not have a college degree and the revelation has startled some retirees.
Marcie Frost, who leads the California Public Employee Retirement System — the largest in the U.S. — did not claim to have a college degree when she was hired to lead CalPERS in 2016, the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.
But Frost now faces criticism after a blogger pointed out Frost implied in her application and in a statement announcing her hiring that she was working on obtaining a college degree.
Blogger Susan Webber wrote Frost said she was pursuing dual degrees at The Evergreen State College in Olympia when she applied to CalPERS but she had not taken any classes there since 2010.
“We are surprised. You just assume in today’s market if you’re going to be CEO of the nation’s largest retirement system that you’d have some kind of degree,” Tim Behrens, president of California State Retirees, told the newspaper. He added, “I don’t think anything happened badly because of her lack of a degree.”
Frost, 54, said her career accelerated first in Washington state and then at CalPERS since she first took classes at Evergreen in 2010. She did not enroll in a class after that year, although she said she still intends to obtain a degree.
“It’s something that I will finish in my life but this position at CalPERS is the most important thing I’m doing today,” she said.
She earned $387,000 at CalPERS last year, according to state salary records.
Five board members told The Sacramento Bee they knew of Frost’s lack of degree but said they chose her because they believed she was someone who could work to advance the fund’s goals.
“Quite frankly it’s not a piece of paper. It’s about somebody who can do a job. She presented herself as the best person who could do the job in that interview,” said CalPERS Board of Administration Vice President Rob Feckner. He described Frost as “up-front, very forthcoming” in disclosing that she did not have a college degree.
CalPERS board member Margaret Brown, who was not on the board when Frost was hired, told Bloomberg News last month that she wants CalPERS to open an investigation into Frost’s hiring.
She is the only board member of the fund demanding some kind of action following Webber’s reporting on Frost.
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