Despite the bright green cast that encases his left leg, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong remains as positive as ever.
On March 28, Armstrong underwent surgery on his left Achilles tendon to fix problems caused by injuries over the years. Armstrong said he also had a small abnormality on his calcaneus, or ankle bone, which aggravated the injuries he sustained.
“I used to play a lot of pickup basketball, which puts a lot of stress on your Achilles,” Armstrong said. “Then I moved to running a couple half-marathons a year … It was just a chronic injury.”
The surgery was a form of what is called debridement, which is when the surgeon removes the tendon, repairs and cleans up the calcifications that have formed, then reattaches it.
While Armstrong was in surgery, he said the surgeon also removed the abnormality on his calcaneus in an attempt to prevent future injuries.
The recovery is going well for Armstrong — he was glad he was only on pain medication for a couple days, he said. And while he isn’t as mobile as he once was, he’s looking on the bright side of things.
“Vice President (for Student Affairs) Keith Humphrey and I were talking about it, and he said something that I’d not heard anybody say,” Armstrong said. “He said, you know, we’re all temporarily abled, if you think about it. Because we’re all an accident away, or something happening, that takes away our ability, or some aspect of our life that would make us disabled. So, I’m temporarily disabled.”
During his time as president, Armstrong has been active and everywhere. Whether he is on a run through the streets of San Luis Obispo or in line at Starbucks, students can see him all over campus and take a selfie with him. Now that it’s harder for him to get around, Armstrong said he has a new perspective.
“It’s given me a new view of campus,” Armstrong said. “I’ve found a couple places where we need to fix ‘x’ or ‘y’, but I’ve also found the campus to be easy to move around in my electric scooter. But some of the very simple things that we take for granted, like going from one room to the next, are not so easy.”
However, the loss of activity hasn’t been easy for Armstrong. He said his wife is making sure he’s a good patient, since he’s finding it difficult to not be able to play golf or run like he used to.
“But, you know, it’s temporary, so I’m fine,” Armstrong said. “It’s given me time to focus on other things and it’s also helping me to appreciate some of the smaller things in life.”
With Open House occurring this weekend, Armstrong’s recovery could have thrown a wrench into his many appearances on campus.
However, Armstrong isn’t worried. He said that, if anything, having difficult mobility has made him plan more, instead of just trying to do everything on the run. Between his electric scooter and a golf cart, he doesn’t foresee any issues in getting around campus despite his green cast.
“Maybe for some of the more festive Cal Poly events, we might find some gold cloth or something to wrap around it so I’ll be truly in the Cal Poly colors,” Armstrong said.