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More cash for Cal Poly SLO president

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Cal Poly President Jeffery Armstrong will see a little more cash in his paychecks thanks to a recent vote by the California State University system’s board of trustees.

The trustees voted July 21 to approve an across-the-board 2 percent raise for system executives, including CSU’s 23 campus presidents. The increase bumps Armstrong’s annual base salary up to $399,228, according to documents included in the agenda for the trustees’ meeting. That amount doesn’t account for Armstrong’s benefits, which were valued at more than $99,000 in 2014, according to the Transparent California website. 

The raise for CSU campus executives was proposed by system chancellor Timothy White, who said the pay increases would help keep executive pay competitive. According to information presented to the trustees at the meeting, executive pay in the CSU system was, on average, 25 percent behind the market.

“These increases signal our commitment to continue our work on salary challenges that have existed for many years,” White told the trustees.

Armstrong’s raise comes after a year of tension between his office and Cal Poly faculty over spending on administrative hiring and pay. In May, the school’s academic senate met and passed a non-binding resolution raising concerns over the university’s increased spending on well-paid management positions, while hiring and pay for faculty languished. Shortly after the vote, faculty and students staged a protest in front of Armstrong’s office over the issue. 

Jim LoCascio, a Cal Poly professor and president for the campus’s chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA), said he didn’t begrudge Armstrong the raise, and was more concerned about the larger trend of a widening pay gap at the university.

“It is not the 2 percent increase in President Armstrong’s salary that is the issue; the issue is how over the last seven years the salary of administrators has outpaced faculty,” LoCascio said.

A statement from the university noted that Armstrong’s raise was the decision of the trustees.

“It was a decision made for the entire CSU system, independent of any single CSU campus,” the statement read.

During last year’s unrest, Armstrong pledged to address the issue. The statement from the university included similar remarks, saying the issue remained a “top priority.” 

“While the CSU reached a multi-year succession agreement with the [CFA] in 2014-15 that included a 3 percent increase to faculty’s base compensation pool, Cal Poly went further,” the statement read. “This year the university committed an additional $3.5 million in compensation increases for faculty and staff. The distribution of the $3.5 million began earlier this year and will continue over the next three years. The university also continues to explore additional possibilities for increasing faculty compensation.”

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