Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s annual base salary has risen from $361,400 to $369,228, as the California State University’s Board of Trustees approved a 2 percent raise on Tuesday for all CSU presidents.
The raise, effective July 1, has irked Cal Poly’s faculty union, which is in the midst of contract negotiations for this academic year. Armstrong — the second highest paid university president in the 23-campus CSU system — also receives an annual $30,000 supplement from the Cal Poly Foundation, making his total annual salary $399,228.
The 2 percent raise doesn’t come with any other increases, including any adjustment to his campus housing or his choice of either a $12,000 annual car allowance or use of a university-owned vehicle. Armstrong lives in an on-campus home provided by the university.
“The motion to increase executive pay by 2 percent was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees,” said Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier. “It was a decision made for the entire CSU system, independent of any single CSU campus.”
But Cal Poly’s faculty union president called the pay hike a slap in the face for faculty, who held a protest outside the Administration Building in May, objecting to “administrative bloat.”
“The trustees voted to give them another raise while we’re negotiating our contract,” said Graham Archer, the Cal Poly chapter president for the California Faculty Association. “We have a lack of trust. We have no faith in them at this point.”
Archer said Cal Poly faculty members are unhappy that when new CSU presidents are hired, their salaries tend to be “dramatically higher” than previous presidents.
Archer noted that CSU presidents’ salaries are as much as 10 times higher than what some faculty make. He said he also believes the perception among faculty is that CSU Chancellor Timothy White has a cozy relationship with the trustees and can influence their vote on an issue such as compensation for presidents, with whom White is also closely aligned.
“They could have simply delayed this (pay hike for presidents) until we negotiated salary for the faculty,” Archer said. “But to award the presidents this raise while our salaries are being negotiated is upsetting. … We don’t get to vote ourselves a raise.”
But Cal Poly officials noted they set aside $3.5 million in compensation increases for faculty and staff over a three-year period, money the union doesn’t believe goes far enough to address years of small or no pay increases.
“The university also continues to explore additional possibilities for increasing faculty compensation,” Lazier said.
Pay for administrators rose by 43 percent between 2010 and 2014, while faculty compensation increased 3 percent, according to the union. Faculty got a 1.6 percent raise in 2014-15. But Cal Poly officials say the union’s numbers are misleading because many Cal Poly staff members were promoted into administrative positions and thus rewarded for their service.
Armstrong has also said that money that pays for some of the management positions comes from gifts and grants.
Most of the new administrative positions are lower-level positions or positions that help raise money for the university, Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s starting base salary was $350,000 when he was hired in February 2011 — meaning his pay has increased by about 5.5 percent with the latest boost.
The CSU board has approved a 2 percent increase for all employees, including faculty, administrators, executives and staff. The faculty union has pushed for a 5 percent raise this year, Archer said.
Archer said the union plans to hold some sort of public awareness event during Week of Welcome to draw attention to disparities in faculty pay — and the pay hike for presidents has motivated teachers.
“If they wanted to help me organize the faculty and get them angry, this did it,” Archer said.