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Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong outlined his vision for the next academic year at Fall Conference on Monday, detailing plans to increase Cal Poly’s recognition as a nationally competitive university.
The university’s finances, new building projects, public-private partnerships, recruitment and scholarship initiatives, academic and master plans, diversity, Campus Climate Survey and more were topics of discussion at the conference.
The speech echoed Armstrong’s “Vision 2022” address in Spring of 2014. He said his 8-year plan will guide the university in near term planning.
The plan’s initiatives aim to increase Cal Poly’s popularity across the nation, rather than just within California and neighboring states.
The conference welcomed new staff and faculty, as well as those returning. Awards were given to honor faculty and staff with special achievements.
Armstrong stressed the need for financial stability at Cal Poly in the years ahead.
Cal Poly cannot rely on student tuition and state funding to meet its budget, Armstrong said. Donations and public-private partnerships are also necessary for the university’s future. Cal Poly has more students enrolled in high-cost majors than any other school in the CSU system. Despite recent increases in state funding, it is still working to manage an 11-million dollar deficit in its budget, Armstrong said.
Armstrong pointed to the university’s current 7-year fundraising campaign and increased public-private partnerships as a way to maintain the university’s finances.
Public-private partnerships were a theme throughout Armstrong’s speech.
Potential partnerships included an apartment complex downtown for those working in the HotHouse entrepreneurship program, a study-away program in Silicon Valley for a variety of majors and expansion of Cal Poly’s cybersecurity center, Armstrong said.
Cal Poly will also look to partner with companies on new housing projects both on and off campus, as well as new dining options.
Armstrong also mentioned several new building projects and programs for Cal Poly.
One such possible project is building a hotel conference center and new activities center, which would host concerts and sporting events. In addition, new housing options are being explored for both on and off campus.
Some new structures would be major-specific. Armstrong said the university is continuing efforts to add a new wine facility and improvements to the Davidson building, which hosts music and theater classes. The aerospace hangar also needs to be replaced, he said.
In a nod to environmental friendliness, Armstrong said all new buildings would be LEED Gold certified — a green design standard.
He added that since 2000, the university has decreased its energy use by 21 percent. However, Cal Poly still needs to work on water usage and waste, he said.
Diversity and recruitment
Armstrong said Cal Poly should be a model of “educational equity” — that students from lower-income backgrounds should be encouraged and given assistance to attend Cal Poly.
One way the university is implementing this idea is the “Cal Poly Scholars” program, begun in 2012. The program gives a $3000 renewable housing grant for 4 years, as well as an iPad and extra counseling.
The program is administered through partner high schools, which have been identified as serving those with low incomes. The scholarship is for those whose household income is less than $80,000 annually.
Armstrong said students with lower incomes and first-generation college students frequently turn down Cal Poly because of the expense. He sees expanding programs like Cal Poly Scholars, as well as other scholarships, as a way to reverse this trend.
Ensuring the university’s financial security, receiving donations and maintaining partnerships are all necessary for program expansion, he said.
Campus climate survey
Armstrong closed by explaining how the Campus Climate Survey, begun in February, will be shared with the campus. The anonymous survey asks students, staff and faculty a number of questions designed to gauge the campus environment. Questions include demographic information, sexuality and spirituality, work-life balance and more.
Armstrong said the report, prepared by an independent analyst, will be presented on October 16th, and that he will have access to it at the same time as the rest of the campus.
Academic and master plan
Cal Poly will begin seeking input on its academic plan update from the campus this year. The academic plan is a roadmap telling Cal Poly which majors and programs it will offer over the next 10 to 20 years. The academic plan informs the master plan, which includes the buildings and facilities the university will use to implement its programs.
Armstrong did not mention the recent controversy surrounding an attempted robbery at the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house in San Luis Obispo. Five Cal Poly football players were arrested in connection to the robbery and a fraternity member was arrested on drug charges during later investigation of the incident.
In a statement provided by email, Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote “Fall Conference is primarily aimed at welcoming new faculty and staff and welcoming back returning faculty and staff…It’s not meant to be a discussion of current events.”