President Jeffrey Armstrong (left) and Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier (right) came to the Mustang News newsroom Monday morning. Armstrong used the press-conference-style meeting to open the door for more debate on semesters and stand behind a plan for more on-campus housing.
In what’s become a semi-annual tradition at Mustang News, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong joined the staff for a Q-and-A on Monday morning. In addition to his usual talking points — the Mustang Way, diversity, enrollment, graduation rates and student success — he also spoke on some issues our staff could soon be gearing up to report on.
In what might have been the biggest point to come out of Monday’s meeting, Armstrong renewed his opposition to semesters. He told our reporters that going through a conversion process in the next decade would “be more detrimental than when we looked at it last year.”
This is a new approach by the president, who’s stayed mostly quiet since announcing in March that Cal Poly would begin converting to semesters by the end of the decade as part of a compromise between California State University Chancellor Timothy White and him.
But he treated the issue with more flexibility Monday, saying nothing is final because White never issued an official policy mandating all California State University campuses switch to semesters.
“(White) is still of the mind, if you were to call and ask him, he’d still stay everybody being on semesters is better,” Armstrong said. “And we’ve got a very strong case, and a growing case, that I think will show at the end of the day that quarters are the best for Cal Poly.”
Armstrong also said he would support some reform of Cal Poly’s course registration system. He supported giving better enrollment priority to seniors close to graduating, though he added there are no final plans.
Change in this area would most likely come from Provost Kathleen Enz Finken, whose staff is already in the process of launching a computer program that would plan more lean class offerings based on what courses students want to take.
“I hope it changes,” said Armstrong, referring to student-registration headaches. “And I know the provost does, too.”
Moving away from academics, Armstrong echoed what Mustang News heard several times while reporting on campus alcohol policies last month: Cal Poly is hardly a dry campus. In five years, he said, we likely won’t be using the term “dry campus,” to describe the university.
In the meantime, he said he’s already heard alumni are praising a new tailgate policy that allows regulated drinking before football games on campus.
“If people are over 21, and they’re mature, and they act like adults and don’t abuse that, then I think that will continue,” Armstrong said. “And hopefully as we add more housing on campus, we’ll have a policy that will have more people wanting be on campus.”
The president’s goals for on-campus living have already come into the spotlight this year, and plans for a new residence hall near the Grand Avenue entrance to campus drew the ire of local residents at a community forum earlier this month. Armstrong told us he didn’t take the criticism to be a strike against his plans for expansion, but rather against the dorm’s proposed location, which he continues to support.
In the future, Armstrong said he would like to have as many as two-thirds of students living on campus. Fewer than half of Cal Poly students currently live on campus.
“We know that students are more successful if they live in University Housing,” he said. “That’s real important for our future.”
What questions do you have about the president’s statements Monday? Let us know in the comments.