Cal Poly spends $71,000 less on management, but faculty union still critical

Cal Poly officials say they saved the university $71,000 on management costs between October 2014 and October 2015 while adding 21 new positions during that period.

Some of the cost savings came from positions not being immediately filled when administrators resigned or retired, or job duties were changed.

“Fluctuations in the numbers of employees are standard for large, dynamic organization such as Cal Poly,” Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said in a letter to Gary Laver, chairman of the university’s Academic Senate. “More importantly, the role all of our employees — faculty, staff and MPPs (management positions) alike — share in ensuring student success and the operation of our university.”

The university had a net increase in faculty of 53 and a net increase in staff of 48 between October 2014 and October 2015. However, the university didn’t have the total tally of money spent during that time on those employee additions as of this past week.

Despite the savings in management compensation, Cal Poly’s faculty union has been critical of the university’s administration for how many administrators Cal Poly added in recent years, and because it spent $9.7 million in additional management salaries and benefits between 2010 and 2015.

The university spent $14.9 million on faculty compensation during that time; however, the university employed 239 management positions in 2014 and 1,345 faculty, and thus proportionally the money spent on administrators was significantly greater.

“When they blow out the number of administrators by 43 percent over a four-year period, you can’t really make that comparison with the spending,” said Graham Archer, the university’s California Faculty Association president. “We’re deeply concerned about the number of administrators they’ve added to the campus and the weight of them on the budget in future years.”

Archer said that even with savings on administrative pay this year over last year, the sheer number of added positions could burden the university’s budget in future years.

The faculty union has threatened a five-day strike in April across the 23-campus California State University system because of stalled negotiations on faculty pay. And the union has pointed to “administrative bloat” as a bone of contention.

The faculty union is seeking a 5 percent raise, while the CSU administration has offered a 2 percent raise for this year.

Despite the union criticisms on administrative spending, Cal Poly officials say it’s a matter of perspective and how the numbers are broken down.

Between 2010 and 2014, Cal Poly added 66 new management positions, according to the university. Seventy-four percent of those jobs were lower-level positions with an average salary about $75,000.

“In addition, 41 percent of those positions were filled by promoted faculty or staff, and 44 percent of the positions were funded by gifts and grants,” said Chris Murphy, Cal Poly’s executive director of university communications.

Many of the added positions are fundraising jobs that bring in revenue to the university, which receives $36 million less from the state than it did in 2007.

However, the faculty union says money from fundraising hasn’t influenced raises.

The university also points to a Cal Poly equity program that is increasing faculty and staff pay by $3.5 million over a four-year period.

However, Archer said that money is divided so thinly it has made little impact in faculty pay.

“We’re not complaining, but it hasn’t made up for years of little or no raises,” Archer said.