The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees approved the annual salary for newly appointed Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong today.
Armstrong, who begins his presidency on Feb. 1, will receive $350,000 as an annual salary, $12,000 in a yearly car allowance and a $30,000 annual salary supplement provided by the Cal Poly Foundation. In addition, Armstrong will be provided a to-be-determined monthly housing allowance until he moves into the University House on May 1.
Stacia Momburg, public affairs team leader for university administration, said Armstrong’s finalized yearly salary will save the state approximately $8,000 a year compared to former President Warren Baker’s $400,000 compensation package. Toward the end of his presidency, Baker lived in a house off campus and in addition to his flat salary of $328,000 and a $12,000 car allowance, he also received $60,000 a year in a housing allowance.
“So by living in the house not only is Armstrong closer to the students and the campus community but we are also in turn having salary savings by (Armstrong) choosing to live in the house,” Momburg said. “So by doing that, we are also benefiting.”
However, Momburg and Vice President for Administration and Finance Larry Kelley said the additional $30,000 will not come from the state and will not have a financial impact on students. The additional funds come from an unrestricted section of the Cal Poly Foundation through private donations that are available for the benefit of the university.
“There’s always a rule on money that we get, but the difference between restricted and unrestricted would be if the donor had restricted the money to go to biology, for example, then that would go to biology only,” Kelley said. “If the donor gave money in an unrestricted manner then that money can go to the benefit of the university. In other words, they’re not tagged for any specific program.”
The additional money was approved by CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in an effort to keep the salaries of the 23 CSU presidents on roughly the same level. When asked why there is such a difference in salary scales between the presidents, Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesperson for the CSU, said the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor determine the “value” of the position based upon the operating budget of the university, the size of the university, the cost of living in the area, student enrollment and the level of experience a candidate brings to the position.
“The idea is that they’re trying to keep the salaries within the same level or roughly within the same ballparks as the other presidents,” Uhlenkamp said. “The board and the Chancellor determined what was going to be the value for this position. The Board of Trustees and the Chancellor determined that President Armstrong would successfully carry on the work that President Baker did and it was determined that this would be the salary for this position.”
Despite the Chancellor’s decision to offer Armstrong a sum not tied to the state’s budget, not everyone is pleased with what Armstrong will be receiving. Computer engineering junior Slava Markeyev said although he assumes the role of president is exhausting, at the moment he does not think the salary of the president is entirely fair.
“If he does well, and we’ll find out in a year’s time, I wouldn’t say it’s unfair, but I don’t know how much work it actually is,” Markeyev said. “At the same time, with budget cuts, he needs to be hurting because the rest of the university is hurting too.”
But even with the current budget problems facing the CSU system, Associated Students Inc. President Sarah Storelli said Armstrong is deserving of the salary and cares about the university. Storelli, who had no part in the final decision of Armstrong’s wages, said the amount is fair and because some deans make the same amount, it could have been higher. She was also unsurprised by the $30,000 offered by the Cal Poly Foundation.
“The board was willing to get someone with stellar quality so they were prepared to offer that amount,” Storelli said. “They are the university president so they’re always traveling or dealing with the university, whether that’s dealing with faculty or dealing with students or the dean. It’s not just a showboating position.”
In addition to housing and a $392,000 yearly compensation package, Armstrong will also receive additional benefits related to his relocation to California (including storage fees of his belongings until he can move into the University House), any expenses contracted from the selling of his house in Michigan and reimbursement related to “travel and relocation expenses.” Uhlenkamp said the final cost of these expenses will be looked over and approved or rejected by the Chancellor at a later date.
Nikol Schiller contributed in the reporting of this article.
Editor’s note: The $30,000 given to President Armstrong to supplement his salary will come from the Cal Poly Foundation, not the Cal Poly Corporation as was initially reported. Additionally, President Baker’s base salary was $328,00, not $350,000. The $392,000 Armstrong will receive and the $400,000 Baker received during his presidency are part of a compensation package. Their annual salaries are $350,000 and $328,000 respectively. We regret the errors and they have been fixed.