Cal Poly’s Advanced Technologies Laboratories, where the third and final open presidential candidate forum was to be held, was stirring with conversation. The moment everyone was waiting for was approaching.
This is Cal Poly’s second attempt at finding a replacement president for interim president, Robert Glidden. Glidden took over for retired president Warren Baker and has been filling the position of president since the beginning of August.
Students gathered in the University Union room 220 waiting for Jeffrey Armstrong, the third presidential hopeful to speak. Armstrong is the current dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and professor of Animal Science at Michigan State University.
Andy Liles, an industrial engineering senior, said Cal Poly’s new president is going to have a lot of things to work on, he said. For one, Liles would like for it to be less difficult for Cal Poly students to change their major.
“It needs to be easier, more clear-cut and more standardized for people to change majors,” Liles said. “Different departments all have their own policies. It took me a long time to switch.”
Another thing Liles would like to see improvements on would be how students receive their financial aid.
“The financial aid department needs to be more on top of their shit,” Liles said. “I had all my stuff done and they lost my W-2’s and my mom moved and went through a couple of jobs so it wasn’t easy for her to find it again. I didn’t get my money until week eight this quarter.”
In addition, Liles said he would like to see improvements to campus dining. But those weren’t the topics Armstrong discussed during the forums.
Instead, Armstrong focused on topics like sustainability, shared governance, faculty learning incentives and the relationship between Cal Poly and the San Luis Obispo community. All of which were commonly discussed topics at the first round of open forums last spring.
When asked about the specifics of what he planned to do regarding sustainability, Armstrong said he would be open to the ideas of faculty and students.
“I’ve worked with McDonald’s over 12 years,” Armstrong said. “You look at (sustainability) from the perspective of what that means in other countries. I know the students and faculty have a lot of ideas.”
The reason to have a reasonable and manageable way to handle sustainability is a holistic approach, Armstrong said.
Sustainability has been a common topic of discussion around Cal Poly. All three of the university’s last round of presidential candidates discussed the issue in their open forums as well.
During the open forum city councilman, John Ashbaugh asked about the relationship between Cal Poly and the community.
Armstrong’s role in bringing Michigan State and the university’s surrounding community together was based on much larger a community, he said.
“My role is tended to be the state of Michigan in interacting the school with the community,” he said in the forum. “There haven’t been as many concrete examples as a dean. I believe the president can be a strong liaison.”
Some are not entirely convinced that there exists a future Cal Poly President out of the three candidates.
Chester Matkey, an industrial engineering senior is still waiting for a certain leadership quality to emerge out of one of the candidates, he said.