Cal Poly chief financial officer and senior vice president for administration and finance Larry Kelley refers to his 11 years at the university as an adventure.
“Each decision can lead to an adventure,” Kelley said. “That certainly was true when my wife and I came to Cal Poly.”
Kelley announced Wednesday his plan to retire at the end of the academic term in June.
“We have managed through the worst of the budget issues at Cal Poly, and President Armstrong has had time to settle in,” Kelley wrote in an email. “We have completed nearly $1 billion in new construction and renovations, and I am completing 37 years in higher education. It all came together to be the right time to retire.”
Cal Poly interim director of marketing and communications Matt Lazier said a large factor in Kelley’s decision to retire was the improved state of Cal Poly’s financial situation.
“With Cal Poly reaching the end of its current budget year and seeming to be past the worst of the state’s recent budget troubles, he felt it was time to step away and be closer to his family,” Lazier said.
Kelley’s retirement comes as the culmination of much deliberation during the past two years.
“I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of years and decided this winter,” Kelley said.
Kelley is also the treasurer for the Cal Poly Foundation and the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Cal Poly Corporation, which encompasses Campus Dining, the University Store and several other entities at Cal Poly.
The division’s next vice president will be selected and announced later this year, according to a press release issued by the university. Kelley said he does not expect to be involved in the decision.
“I understand that there will be a search for the permanent vice president,” Kelley said. “I don’t think I will have an active role in that search.”
In the meantime, Cal Poly’s interim chief financial officer will be Stan Nosek, the former vice chancellor of administration at the University of California, Davis.
Kelley said his motives for retirement are mainly based on a desire to be near his family in Ohio.
“Once my wife and I get to Ohio we plan to settle into our new house and enjoy our families,” Kelley said.
Kelley said he will also look into continuing his career to some degree.
“I also have talked with a couple consulting firms, as well as a couple universities in Ohio, about limited roles with them,” Kelley said.
Those who work closely with Kelley said he will leave big shoes to fill.
“While I am personally happy for (Kelley) and wish him all the best in his retirement, the campus will miss his successful leadership,” associate vice president for facilities Mark Hunter said.
Kelley said one of his proudest achievements in this position was aiding in the creation of the Cal Poly Master Plan, an outline detailing the plans for expanding Cal Poly’s physical presence through on-campus construction projects.
“I’ve enjoyed being a part of a group of people who helped deliver the promises and goals of the Cal Poly Master Plan,” Kelley said. “The new student as well as faculty and staff housing, and academic as well as recreational facilities are a lasting tribute to those people.”
As far as the changes to Cal Poly during his time at the university, Kelley said he sees both physical changes and a continued commitment to university principles.
“One can see the physical changes with an emphasis on providing new and improved academic, housing and support facilities,” Kelley said. “Possibly not as noticeable on the surface, though, is the continued commitment to a set of principles that drive all the choices for the daily operations.”
One of the causes that guided many of Kelley’s projects was a dedication to sustainability. Through many of the projects executed during his time at Cal Poly, such as Poly Canyon Village and Cerro Vista, Cal Poly was certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
“To see the advances we’ve made in sustainability during this period demonstrates the focus on doing the right things,” Kelley said. “And doing them well.”
Hunter listed this dedication to sustainability as one of Kelley’s most prolific accomplishments at Cal Poly.
“(Kelley) encouraged a very robust sustainability focus, including LEED certifications of new and existing buildings,” Hunter said.
But Kelley said the things he will most miss about Cal Poly are people, namely the students, faculty and staff, and members of the Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo community.
“This has been a great adventure and I’m pleased to have had the chance to contribute,” Kelley said. “We have enjoyed that adventure, and I’m sure we will enjoy the next one too.”