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New Cal Poly president's potential pay: $350,000

UPDATE: The Board of Trustees has approved the president's salary.

The California State University system’s Committee on University and Faculty Personnel voted Tuesday to recommend an annual salary of $350,000 for incoming Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. If the full board of trustees approves the salary today, he will be the highest-paid president in the 23-campus system.

Armstrong, 51, will assume the post on Feb. 1. His proposed salary will earn him 6.6 percent more than former President Warren Baker, who at age 72 was the highest-paid president in the CSU with a salary of $328,209 when he retired in July 2010 after 31 years in the position.

Armstrong may earn more than current top earners Don W. Kassing, president of San Jose State University, and Cal Poly interim President Robert Glidden, with salaries of $328,200 each.

Armstrong earned a salary of about $241,000 last year at Michigan State University, where he served as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, according to the Collegiate Times, a Virginia Tech student newspaper that operates a salary database of universities across the nation.

In addition to the recommendation about his annual salary, Armstrong could receive an annual supplement of $30,000 from the Cal Poly Foundation, a philanthropic organization developed to support fundraising operations; reimbursement for travel and relocation expenses, including reimbursement for costs of selling his family residence in Michigan; a vehicle allowance of $1,000 per month; health and other benefit provisions afforded CSU presidents; and temporary housing until he moves into the president’s house on campus May 1.

CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said that despite budget cuts across the board, Armstrong’s proposed salary increase compared to Baker’s pay is not extraordinary and has been deemed necessary for the university’s operations — adding that CSU presidents have not received pay raises since 2007.

“Our presidents have been underpaid historically,” he said, citing studies that say comparable schools pay their presidents salaries averaging nearly $400,000.

Armstrong is noted for having raised $200 million for Michigan State’s College of Agriculture and increased minority student enrollment. He told The Tribune he is looking forward to continuing Cal Poly’s learn-by-doing philosophy.

Armstrong will not move immediately into the 4-bedroom, 31⁄2-bath Cal Poly president’s house, or “University House” near California Boulevard, because renovations are being completed on the home, which was built in 1928.

The university had already initiated repairs of about $150,000 to $200,000 — including new windows, an upgraded electrical system and repair to a water-damaged roof — before Armstrong decided to reside there, according to Larry Kelley, Cal Poly vice president for administration and finance.

Armstrong and his family will be able to make the home their own by selecting paint colors and surface finishes, Kelley said.

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