$350,000 salary for new Poly president gets OK

Incoming Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong will be the second-highest-paid executive employee in the Cal State University system when he takes the post next Tuesday — earning only less than Chancellor Charles Reed.

The CSU Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved Armstrong’s $350,000 salary — making him the highest-paid president in the 23-campus system.

In addition, Armstrong, 51, will receive an annual supplement of $30,000 from the Cal Poly Foundation, a philanthropic organization that handles fundraising for the college — making his earnings $380,000 annually compared with the $471,500 that Reed receives in salary and additional annual supplements.

Armstrong will also be reimbursed for travel and relocation expenses, including for the costs of selling his home in Michigan; a vehicle allowance of up to $1,000 per month; and health and other benefit provisions provided to CSU presidents. He’ll also get up to $5,000 a month in housing reimbursements until he moves into the president’s house on campus in May.

CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said a complete breakdown of Armstrong’s compensation — such as medical and retirement — was not yet available but would be publicly reported in November. No one from the board of trustees could be reached Wednesday to comment on Armstrong’s salary and compensation.

The $30,000 annual supplement from the Cal Poly Foundation was used as a means of boosting Armstrong’s salary without making his pay too much more than the other presidents in the CSU system, Uhlenkamp said.

During the hiring process, the foundation’s board expressed interest to Reed that the organization was willing to give a salary supplement if that would help attract the best possible president, said Larry Kelley, Cal Poly’s vice president for administration and finance.

The Chancellor’s Office set the cost of the supplement, and the foundation’s executive committee agreed, Kelley said.

Armstrong’s salary is 6.6 percent more than that of former Cal Poly President Warren Baker, who at age 72 was the highest-paid president in the CSU system with a salary of $328,209 when he retired last July.

Neither Baker nor interim President Robert Glidden received a salary supplement.Uhlenkamp said that despite across-the-board budget cuts in the CSU system, the increased salary for Armstrong was deemed necessary to keep the job competitive to comparable institutions throughout the nation — noting that CSU presidents have not received a raise since 2007.

Glen Thorncroft, Cal Poly’s faculty union president, said the union had hoped for a salary more in line with current budgetary constraints.

“In this era of belt-tightening and sacrifice, it looks bad to see expansion in executive compensation and management personnel,” Thorncroft said.

Faculty salaries have been frozen since July 2008, said Thorncroft, associate chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

“The problem is always the public confidence in the institution,” he said.