Cal Poly President Warren Baker plans to retire in mid-2010

Cal Poly President Warren Baker cited long-standing progress — from infrastructure improvements to the current “outstanding group of faculty” — while discussing his retirement from the university he has led for the past three decades.

Baker — the longest serving of 23 current California State University presidents — plans to retire from Cal Poly in the middle of 2010.

“We put ourselves in a position to pull ourselves up from our bootstraps,” Baker said in an interview with The Tribune. “The campus community has really come together and worked together to develop a cooperative culture and accomplish a lot.”

Among the university’s achievements that Baker cited during his tenure are the following:

  • Growing programs such as engineering, architecture, and agriculture at Cal Poly that now are among the largest in student enrollment and best reputed in the nation among comparable universities.
  • The university’s fundraising campaign begun on Cal Poly’s 100th anniversary in 2001 that brought in $264 million to establish an endowment that includes funding faculty positions.
  • The willingness of students to support their education by funding facilities and educational programs by approving student fees.
  • Establishing the president’s cabinet of more than 800 leaders from industry, government and the community who provide voluntary advice and support campus-wide — including many alumni.
  • Developing on-campus housing that has allowed students to live and study at Cal Poly through their first two years at the university.
  • Baker said that the alumni at Cal Poly are particularly strong in regards to advisory groups and success after graduation. Cal Poly’s president acknowledged that a challenge has been the state budget over the years, and calls for an overall reform in how state funding supports California’s public universities and K-12 schools.

    Two possible models he presented were changing the tax structure to increase revenues to help fund education and increasing student fees while creating adequate funds for low-income students so that poor students aren’t denied access to education.