Cal Poly spent more on presidential housing renovations than any other California State University (CSU) campus during the last decade, according to a report published Tuesday.
The report, written for the investigative website CaliforniaWatch.org, said Cal Poly has spent $831,000 on renovations for the University House since 2004. This figure included $230,000 spent on new lighting, flooring and kitchen upgrades when Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong moved into the house in 2011, and the university converted the building into a private residence, according to California Watch.
Vice President of Administration and Finance Larry Kelley wrote in an email that the figures in the report were correct, but California Watch blurred the line between what was normal maintenance and what was required to make the space livable.
“Of the $430,000 reported as expenditures, roughly $200,000 was to help make the building a home for the Armstrongs,” Kelley wrote. “The balance was for a project that began before President Armstrong was hired and without any awareness that he would choose to live in the house. The expenditures were needed for such things as repairs to a leaking roof, repair of damage from termite infestation, upgrades to electrical service, replacement of rotted windows and replacement of the water heater.”
Armstrong and his wife currently live in the four-bedroom home, which was converted for residential use in 2011. Armstrong’s predecessor, Warren Baker, lived in the house until 2004 when he chose to move off campus and took a stipend to cover his housing costs.
Baker’s situation was not typical, CSU spokesperson Liz Chapin said. It is a requirement of all university presidents, she said, to live in their campus house. The CSU provides housing for 12 of its 23 campus presidents, as well as CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
But special arrangements were made for Baker because Cal Poly needed a place to hold university conference and events — a role the University House fit well. According to California Watch, the cost of conversion after Baker moved out totaled $21,000.
California Watch named Cal Poly Pomona as the second-highest spender on renovations, with $360,112 in state funds going toward its Manor House. The spending included replacing plumbing and electrical systems, remodeling the house’s kitchen and other renovations, according to the report.
Armstrong could not be reached for comment.