Campus Update

September 10, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

As we prepare for the 2015-16 academic year and make progress toward Vision 2022, we wanted to provide the campus community an update regarding activities that have occurred over the course of the summer. It has indeed been a very busy time with important developments on a variety of fronts, such as the Campus Master Plan, the university budget and the local salary compensation and equity plan.

One of the most positive developments is that the California Legislature funded the California State University budget for the first time in many years. As the State of California recovers from the recession, it is beginning to reinvest in higher education. Our campus community has endured many challenges and frustrations as a result of the funding reductions and, while it will take several years to recover, we feel optimistic for the future. This development allows us to make prudent and strategic investments that will improve the quality of campus life for our students, faculty and staff.

The improved budget climate has contributed to our ability to proceed with the second phase of our local compensation and equity plan, and success in philanthropy is providing much-needed resources for facility improvements, as well as scholarship monies for our students. This year we also break ground for Student Housing South, and we will complete our Master Plan which will conceptualize the Cal Poly of the future. While our campus experienced difficulties over the past year, it is important to reflect on the many positive aspects of our campus community. Our faculty and staff remain committed to providing our students a first-rate education. Our students continue to be very successful, and demand for Cal Poly graduates has never been higher.

As we begin another exciting year, let's work together to accomplish remarkable things!

Sustainable Financial Model for the CSU

Last week the California State University delivered to the statewide Academic Senate a draft report that gives us significant optimism about the future of the CSU and Cal Poly. Provost Enz Finken was asked to serve on the Chancellor's Task Force for a Sustainable Financial Model for the CSU which produced the report. The task force met for much of the last academic year, and the draft report with findings and recommendations will be made public by the Chancellor's Office on Sept. 18. We will provide a link at that time.

The report includes many recommendations of potential significance to Cal Poly, including an overhaul of the State University Grant program, providing campuses with greater flexibility to use our resources to support our operating and capital needs, and developing a sustainable and more predictable tuition and fee model.

The task force further proposes that the CSU consider alternative methodologies for allocating state funds. Rather than allocating funds based to a very large extent simply on the number of students served at each of the 23 campuses, the task force recommends exploring other options, such as performance- and outcomes-based funding. Another recommendation very important to Cal Poly is to give CSU campuses the authority to propose campus-specific, market-based tuition for non-resident students. That could have a huge impact on our future revenue.


As previously mentioned, the 2015-16 budget approved by the California Legislature funded the California State University budget request. While this is great news, we still face significant challenges as overall funding remains well below funding levels prior to the economic downturn.

As we consider our current financial situation, it is important to reflect on the impact of the years of the state funding reductions. Today, Cal Poly still receives $35.8 million less than it did in 2007-2008, when state investment was at its peak. During President Armstrong's tenure, Cal Poly's state allocation was cut by $41.7 million in 2011-2013 (which was partially offset by a sizeable increase in tuition). This reflects a "new normal" in which students bear an increasing share of the cost of higher education.

However, as a result of reinvestment in higher education by the California Legislature and continued student tuition and fee support, we are finally at a place where we believe we can make steady progress toward recovery. This includes a multi-year plan to improve faculty and staff salaries, faculty hires, staffing levels across the university, deferred maintenance, information technology and other support service infrastructure. Realization of our plan is dependent on additional state funding and other revenue streams unique to Cal Poly.

As we have noted many times, we are enormously grateful to our students who approved a Student Success Fee in 2012, and which now provides approximately $15.5 million per year to support the university. As determined by a committee that has a majority student representation, almost $12 million per year has been invested in the Academic Affairs division, including approximately $10 million to increase the number of faculty and class sections. Approximately $2 million supports additional programming and staff, including the Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity, the BEACoN Mentor program for underrepresented minority students, and additional academic advisors.

The university has also invested $2.1million in fundraising in order to lay the foundation for our $500 million campaign. This is an important investment for the future of Cal Poly, and is already paying dividends. During the last fiscal year $71.9 million was raised for university programs and facilities — amongst our best years in institutional history. We are confident that these investments will serve the university well and that continued success will be achieved on the philanthropic front as a result.

We also recognize that we must address staffing needs across all areas of campus. Every decision we make -- regarding enrollment, classes, increasing the number of faculty, etc. -- has significant implications on our staffing needs. We need to hire more tenure-track faculty, but we cannot ignore the implications of staffing to support those faculty and the students they are teaching, and the required infrastructure.

There will always be more things we want and need to accomplish, and more good ideas than we will have money to address. Each budget conversation starts with the question, "What are our priorities?" We all know that our students need more faculty, more course availability, more teaching, project and research spaces, and more support services to serve our current enrollment, let alone to successfully grow the institution.

Our university's budget is large and complex. Spreadsheets without explanation and context can be challenging, but if you are interested in reviewing additional information regarding our base budgets and the strategic investments we've made in the last few years, please see

The choices before us are difficult. Over the past few years, as evidenced on the spreadsheets mentioned above, our choices were extremely limited. Every dollar allocated toward a compensation and equity program is a dollar that cannot be used to hire additional faculty or staff, fund deferred maintenance, or other important priorities.

In making these choices, we will continue to enhance our efforts in seeking advice and counsel through shared governance (Academic Senate and ASI), the Campus Advisory Council, deans and others.

Faculty and Staff Salaries

As President Armstrong noted last week, we implemented the second phase of our multiyear plan to address faculty and staff salaries. As a reminder, we cannot provide general salary increases at the campus level, but we have established a local compensation plan that is not part of a negotiated general salary increase. The four-year plan is to allocate at least $3 million as follows:

  • Phase 1: $500K in fiscal year 2014/15, effective July 1, 2014 (implemented)
  • Phase 2: $1.5M in 2015/16, effective July 1, 2015 (partially implemented)
  • Phase 3: *$500K in 2016/17, effective July 1, 2016
  • Phase 4: *$500K in 2017/18, effective July 1, 2017
    • With additional state or other support, we will seek to add an additional $500K in either phase 3 or 4 bringing the total to $3.5M.

Again, these increases are above and beyond bargained salaries. The fact that we are able to do this is truly historic. We are doing everything we can to balance our needs and our resources which allowed us to redirect these funds to employee salaries. Providing $3 million or more for equity increases above bargained salaries is really stretching our budget, especially considering that we had to re-allocate $1.1 million to cover a third of the bargained three percent salary increases. At the same time, we know this is still not enough. But we are making progress.

Faculty: Phase 2 Criteria

Instructional faculty, librarians and counselor faculty were included in the second phase of our faculty equity program.

  1. All tenured and tenure-track instructional faculty were reviewed and taken to the following minimum salaries based on rank and years in rank for full professors. Many of our faculty were already at or above the minimums, but this had a tremendous impact in certain areas.
    Assistant Professor   $65,000 (from phase 1)
    Associate Professor   $74,000 (up from $71,000)
    Full Professor 0-5 Years $83,000 (from phase 1)
    6-10 Years $90,000
    11+ Years $95,000
  2. Adjustments to correct inversion and compression on a department-by-department basis.
  3. We identified faculty that were below CSU minimums based on their rank and discipline and made adjustments to move these faculty to, or closer to CSU averages.
  4. We are pleased that in phase 2 we were able to provide increases for some of our lecturers and temporary faculty, including temporary counselors. Salaries were reviewed and adjustments recommended by college deans and academic personnel to correct inversion and compression on a department by department basis. In addition, in the College of Liberal Arts, which has the lowest average lecturer salaries, an increase was recommended more broadly for all lecturers in Range A and B holding three-year 12.12 appointments.

Staff: Phase 2 Criteria

Staff increases were based on CSU averages within classifications and compression issues (when adjusted salaries from phase 2 increases now bump up against or exceed those just above CSU average within the same classification).

Staff salary increases affected employees in bargaining units 2 (health personnel), 4 (student services personnel), 6 (trades workers), 7 (clerical), and a part of 9 (technical support services); the remaining classifications within unit 9 will be reviewed in October as part of phase 2. Increases also affected employees with a hire date of 2010 or earlier and whose salary fell below the CSU average within their classification; and employees close to the CSU average with a hire date of 2010 or earlier affected by compression issues related to the implementation of phase 2.

As a reminder, in phase 1 we addressed the lowest paid staff who were also below CSU averages for their classification and who had a hire date of 2012 and earlier: custodians, warehouse workers and grounds workers. We also adjusted some veteran police officers' salaries that were below the CSU average based on hire date.

Campus Master Plan

Our campus physical Master Plan was last updated in 2001, and we are currently in the middle of a required update. Completing the update, along with our academic and enrollment plans, is extremely important for Cal Poly. They will be our guide and road map for the next 20 years.

President Armstrong reported last week that we are no longer including construction of a hotel/conference center in the plan, and relocating the Leaning Pine Arboretum is no longer under consideration. In June we announced that we removed from consideration for development some of our prime agricultural lands, including the lemon grove.

These are examples of how a master plan update works. When thinking about and planning for the next 20 years or more, we have to consider many options that address key priorities in the short and longer term. That can mean adding for consideration and discussion some concepts that are unpopular to some constituencies. The feedback received is then processed and helps to shape the assumptions and decisions that are embedded in the Master Plan.

There will undoubtedly be other proposals, considerations and discussions this fall as we more closely look at the development of our campus, especially the campus core, over the next 20 years. Your continued engagement in this process is crucial.

Public-Private Partnerships

President Armstrong mentioned public-private partnerships, which we refer to as P3s. P3s are commonly used by governmental entities and institutions of higher education as a means to accomplish capital projects with private investments.

University funds are not used to finance these projects. P3s create opportunities to provide needed services for faculty, staff and students that we would not be able to accomplish otherwise, while also generating revenue for the university.

A good example is housing. Finding housing that is affordable is an enormous challenge for Cal Poly in attracting, recruiting and retaining faculty and staff. The university does not have the resources to build or subsidize such housing, but such a project might interest a private developer. The developer could lease our land, thereby providing Cal Poly revenue, and the developer would be responsible for constructing the facility. There are many examples of successful housing projects of this nature in the CSU and UC, as well as on numerous other campuses all around the nation. All of the areas designated as housing on our Master Plan conceptual maps -- for students and non-students alike -- would very likely occur through P3s. Clearly there would be many important agreements established, but that's just one example of how P3s would allow us to accomplish key goals without using institutional resources.

It is critical to know that for Cal Poly to consider a P3, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The project must be compatible with our institutional mission and goals, and it should enhance the overall campus community.
  2. The project must make financial sense. It should not put the institution at unnecessary risk and it should generate revenue for the university.
  3. The project must be one that can be explained to faculty, staff, other Cal Poly constituents, the community and California taxpayers.

Campus Climate and Diversity

Our Cal Poly Scholars program continues to make great strides in helping to increase the diversity of our students through our Partner High School program. It is clear that an increase in financial aid and scholarships was very effective, and that significantly more is needed. We cannot expect to further increase the diversity of Cal Poly students without a major expansion of our financial aid and scholarship offerings to help offset the cost of attending a residential campus.

In 2015-16, the CP Scholars program will award over $630,000 in scholarship funds to California Partner High School students. This year's program will serve 142 returning students in the high demand fields of business, engineering, science and mathematics, while welcoming 69 new freshman CP Scholars. For the first time, as the result of philanthropy, this new cohort will include students in the field of architecture.

Increasing the diversity of our student body is not enough. We must also increase the diversity of our faculty and staff, and we are taking important steps on that front. Most critical, however, is the necessity for Cal Poly to focus on developing a culture of respect and support for all members of our campus community. As our faculty, staff, and student retention data and Campus Climate Survey results reveal, and the events of last spring validated, the campus environment is not as supportive as it should be. Feeling unappreciated affects morale and job satisfaction, impedes our recruitment and retention efforts, and affects quality of life for all.

To that end, beginning this fall we will engage all campus stakeholders in the hard work of examining what it takes to develop a supportive campus which is founded on the basic premise that all members of our community demand and deserve respect. The Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity, along with the Inclusive Excellence Council and the Campus Climate Committee, has developed two focused approaches to help the campus move forward in this work. We will invite members of the campus to develop recommendations to address several important campus needs which were identified in the Campus Climate Survey. At the same time, the campus as a whole will engage in discussion and action to help us move forward with the Diversity Strategic Framework, a plan to address these issues on our campus.

All units on campus will be asked to participate over the course of this academic year in examining their own areas and developing plans to enhance and support diversity and improve our overall campus climate in sync with Vision 2022. Everyone on this campus has a role to play, and each role is necessary to ensure student success. This year we have an opportunity to turn the corner and move forward. Each and every one of us in the Cal Poly family needs to commit to work together as colleagues within a culture of respect and collegiality. It is everyone's responsibility.

Stay tuned for further information in the coming weeks and months.

Information Technology Services

One of the most critical infrastructure and service systems on any campus is information technology and telecommunications. Cal Poly has a unique opportunity to utilize the expertise of Bill Britton, an executive on loan from Parsons, as our Visiting Interim Chief Information Officer. We are capitalizing on Bill's experience and skills to assess our current ITS infrastructure, services, staffing and organization — and advise us in how to better align it to serve the Cal Poly of today and the future. Kimi Ikeda from the Office of the Provost has been asked to support Bill in this work and to provide important perspective as one with significant experience in IT leadership outside of the central ITS unit.

We are conducting a thorough assessment of strengths and weaknesses in how we deliver technology with the goals of improving service to the campus community and to position ourselves for the future. We want to better utilize the expertise of our IT professionals, provide improved core services (e.g., campus wireless), and provide consistent communication and implementation of policies.

A comprehensive review of ITS will help us make informed strategic investments that will serve Cal poly for many years to come.


As we reported in June, Cal Poly raised $71.9 million in private gifts in FY 2014-15, our second best year ever. The largest gift of the year was a $20-million commitment from Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer. It is important to note, though, that 95% of the gifts we received were under $2,500, many of which provide the needed discretionary funds in our departments and units. We have many loyal supporters, and we thank you for making this an institution they are proud to support.

And this year we anticipate additional major gifts that will be transformational in improving our facilities for faculty and student teaching, learning, projects and research. The stories behind these gifts and projects are wonderful reminders of why we are all here: faculty and staff making a difference in the lives of our students.

When gifts fund facilities, we will always explore ways to add more classrooms, laboratories and office spaces that are critical to support our work.

It is important to note that the State of California does not fund public higher education capital projects the way it once did. Limited funds are provided to the CSU to provide for the building and infrastructure needs of all 23 campuses. That means that philanthropy, interdisciplinary collaborations on campus, strengthened ties with industry and community partners, and public-private partnerships all become even more critical.

Student Housing South

Construction fences are going up and work will soon begin on our new residence hall complex, Student Housing South. It will be built on what was the surface parking lot on Grand Avenue. When it opens in fall 2018, it will provide critical new housing for first-year students, thereby allowing us to return Cerro Vista Apartments to almost 1,000 second-year students. The data is clear that students who live on campus for their first two years are much more likely to proceed to the third year and ultimately graduation. This is even more pronounced for first-generation students and students in engineering and science and math.


Construction of Student Housing South is important for our campus community and serves a critical student need. Inevitably, however, major construction projects create inconveniences for the campus community. There will be a significant changes in parking on campus this fall that will mostly affect commuter students and visitors to campus, both during the week and on weekends.

The University's Parking Department is working hard to anticipate customer needs, minimize frustration and provide alternatives for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. Specific information regarding parking changes for this fall can be accessed at

We encourage all to become informed about these changes, plan ahead and consider taking full advantage of the university's contract with SLO Transit bus services which provides free rides to all faculty, staff and students with a valid Cal Poly ID.


Once again, welcome to the beginning of the academic year. We appreciate your attention to these issues, and your commitment to working together to address Cal Poly's challenges and opportunities.

We cannot accomplish everything we want and need to accomplish overnight, but we are making progress. We will carefully balance our needs and our discretionary resources in order to ensure faculty, staff and student success. And we will carefully manage enrollment so that the quality of a Cal Poly education doesn't suffer.

Finally, we must all continue to pursue excellence and inclusiveness. Every person on this campus matters, and each is responsible in their own way for student success. A culture of respect and appreciation is one in which we can question and voice concerns, but not question a person's value or integrity.

Let's encourage, engage and support one another as we move Cal Poly forward.

Thank you for your commitment to Cal Poly. We wish you an enjoyable, productive, and exciting year!

Thank you.

Kathleen Enz Finken
Provost and Executive Vice President

Cindy Villa
Senior Vice President for Administration & Finance

Keith Humphrey
Vice President for Student Affairs

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