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Poly announces new prez picks

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This season, Cal Poly will be visited by three ghosts of Christmas … no, make that three potential university presidents. That’s the best I’ve got.

Four months after the first round of candidates slated to succeed former university president Warren Baker fell through, three new candidates selected by the CSU board of trustees are
stopping by the university to field questions from campus groups.

Members of the new batch share backgrounds befitting Cal Poly’s reputation as one of the top engineering and agricultural institutions of higher learning in the nation.

Robert E. Palazzo is currently the provost and the chief academic officer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York—the oldest technological university in the United States, according to its website—where he was the founding director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and a former chair of the Biology Department.

Palazzo received both a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in biology from Wayne State University in 1979 and 1984, respectively. He later served as chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology at the University of Kansas.

Thomas C. Skalak is a professor and the former chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He received a B.E.S. in bioengineering at Johns Hopkins University in 1979 and his Ph.D. in bioengineering from UC San Diego in 1984. As vice president for research at the University of Virginia, he is responsible for improvement of scholarship, research, and commercial projects across the university’s 11 schools, and has been
credited with bringing in billions of dollars of
venture capital.

According to Cal Poly’s website, Skalak is recognized as an expert in complex system modeling, biomechanics, and blood vessel growth and serves as a reviewer for the National Institute of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and more than 30 scientific journals.

Jeffrey D. Armstrong has been the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a professor of animal science at Michigan State University since 2001. He received his bachelor’s in agriculture from Murray State University in Western Kentucky and his master’s and doctorate from
his alma mater.

Under his watch as dean, the college general faculty fund increased 44 percent, grant activity increased 146 percent, and more than $200 million was raised during his tenure, according to the Cal Poly Public Affairs Office.

The CSU board of trustees is expected to select the next president some time in December, according to CSU spokesperson Michael Uhlenkamp. Whoever is selected—
if anyone—will replace interim President Robert Glidden.

Glidden’s annual salary is comparable to Baker’s at $328,200, and the new president’s salary will be negotiated during the final stages of the hiring process, likely to be ratified at the next board meeting in January, Uhlenkamp said.

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