Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong is officially a member of the campus community.
After a relocation process that began Feb. 1, Armstrong and his wife Sharon moved into the University House last Sunday.
The newly renovated, 5,089 square-foot house, located on the hill near the Health Center, was originally constructed in 1928 and has served as a venue for numerous Cal Poly events, as well as a place of residence for the school’s presidents.
Former Cal Poly President Warren Baker lived in the house for 25 years before moving out in 2004 as he came closer to retiring.
After leaving the University House, Baker received a $60,000 housing allowance each year. The allowance is no longer necessary with the new president choosing to reside on campus.
Armstrong said he was excited and honored to accept California State University Chancellor Charles Reed’s offer for him to live in the Cal Poly-owned home.
“This is a student-centered university,” Armstrong said. “To me, it was a pretty easy decision. The president should live on campus.”
Armstrong said living on campus enables him to easily walk to work and stay connected with students, as well as host guests at the house.
“It’s also nice that, if we’re entertaining here, we also live here,” he said. “It’s just much more efficient.”
The University House is the site of several school events throughout the year including shareholder dinners, sports-related occasions and student government meetings.
Larry Kelley, Cal Poly vice president for administration and finance, said the house hosts more than 1,000 people each year.
“This is a facility that has served Cal Poly well over the years,” Kelley said. “We recognize that thousands of people have been in this house and have enjoyed the many historical and important ceremonies that have been conducted here.”
One example of an important event at the house was a ceremony held last year to award degrees to Japanese-American students who were not able to complete their education during World War II, Kelley said.
To better accommodate functions and guests, the school spent $40,000 to repair the house’s event tent. Recent University House projects, such as this, cost a total of $187,560.
Other modernization and renovation expenses such as remodeling the master bathroom and flooring throughout the house in addition to upgrading the heating and air conditioning system reached an additional $150,066.
Armstrong said the restoration process allowed for some customization.
“My wife was able to add her touch to the house,” he said. “We came in at a point where we could pick the color of the paint, pick the flooring (and) some other items of that nature.”
Sharon said she did not want to make any drastic changes.
“I wanted to keep the house to the nature of the style of the original house, and just keep it simple and neutral,” she said.
She also said she enjoys the peacefulness of the house despite being located within a community of sometimes boundary-testing students.
“It’s like a remote, little island,” she said. “I look forward to being out and doing my walks in the morning and seeing everybody.”
Armstrong said disturbances associated with the college environment are to be expected, but they do not worry him.
“I’m sure there will be the rare occasion where someone knocks on the door or we get stirred in the middle of the night, but that goes with it,” he said. “We both feel more safe and secure than any other place we could possibly live.”
As brand new residents of the state (Armstrong was formerly the dean of agriculture at Michigan State University), city and school, Armstrong and Sharon both said they are impressed with the people and environment of San Luis Obispo.
“Sharon and I are delighted to be here,” Armstrong said. “We’ve fallen in love with this area and certainly with Cal Poly.”