Cal Poly under fire for using foundation funds for executive pay

September 30, 2011

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong

Leaders at the state’s public four-year universities need to proceed carefully when it comes to using private dollars to supplement compensation packages for executives as is the practice at Cal Poly, lawmakers told California State University and University of California officials at a Senate Education Committee hearing this week. [CaliforniaWatch]

The hearing was prompted after CSU trustees decided this summer to pay $400,000 to San Diego State University’s new president – about $100,000 more than his predecessor – on the same day they voted to raise student tuition by 12 percent.

On Wednesday, legislators and the Legislative Analyst’s Office also called into question CSU’s decision to supplement the new president’s $350,000 state pay with $50,000 from the campus’ nonprofit foundation, California Watch said.

Leaders at CSU have supplemented executive pay using private funds on three other occasions, California Watch said.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo President Jeffrey Armstrong’s $380,000 salary includes $30,000 from the Cal Poly Foundation. San Jose State University President Mohammad H. Qayoumi’s $353,200 salary includes $25,000 from the SJSU Foundation, and CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed’s $451,500 salary includes $30,000 from the CSU Foundation, California Watch said.

“Those same funds could be used for other things that benefit the university,” said Judy Heiman of the Legislative Analyst’s Office to California Watch. “So it is still a trade-off when the university chooses to use those foundation funds for executive compensation rather than, say, for programs to improve student retention or student success.”

Another bone of contention noted at the hearing was the list of institutions that the CSU’s compare themselves with when deciding whether salaries are above or below market.

“I think they’re rigged,” Brown said to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “You’ve got to deconstruct them. They create a false paradigm that ensures that college presidents are always ‘underpaid.’ ”



  1. rogerfreberg says:

    Okay, I think we can all agree that there are plenty of competent people who could do these jobs… but then they aren’t ‘members of the club.’ The real issue is what is it going to take to get these folks to stop paying others excessive salaries and perks?

    Want a juicy rumor? It appears that Cal Poly has just hired a Vice President of Development at a salary and benefits that would make even Nero-fiddling-while-Rome-burn blush. The ‘compensation’ is rumored to be ‘excessive’ even by supporters.

    The rumored reason they gave for the high salary, “…because we had too!”

    BTW. Won’t it be fun to look into the Foundations once January 1st rolls around?

    (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
  2. WiseGuy says:

    Why doesn’t someone explain this in simple terms?

    Bottom line: this is a flawed system for pay-offs and bribes to facilitate private individuals and companies to secure lucrative public contracts and/or the use of university resources and personnel for private gain. IN this case it snares even the most innocent who naively and trustingly donate to these “foundations” not realizing its part of another scam to fleece the public and public institutions.

    The reason these big shots at Cal Poly and other Cal universities can command such outrageous and astronomical salaries is because they know how all this really works and are thus paid highly to shut the F up and be accessory to the scam.

    There are many forms of organized crime in California.

    (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  3. shelworth says:

    It’s one thing if a company gives outrageous pay to an executive, (I don’t care, not my money) It’s something else again if a public institution gives away tax dollars!

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

      You say you don’t care about a company giving an executive outrageous pay since you don’t pay for it; actually you (us) pay a lot more than we think or know. How many private companies do pay their executive outrageous salaries but also don’t pay any taxes on the operation of their company? How many of those companies receive federal subsidies? How many of those companies pay their lowest ranked so little that those employees qualify for food stamps, welfare, Medi-Caid or other government assistance programs? We (the taxpayers) all pay for those “government expenses” through our taxes. But in my mind the biggest reason that the private industry pay is so offensive is that people in the highest paying jobs like university presidents are always compared to private industry when their pay is being figured. The “connected” have always figured a way to game the system so that they get what they think they “deserve”, which usually has very little to do with actual reality.

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  4. Mr. Holly says:

    Simply put-The fleecing of the students.

    (18) 18 Total Votes - 18 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      Oh, it’s not just students who get fleeced. It’s pretty much anyone who gives them money: parents, donors, taxpayers, sports fans, and yes, students. But it just sounds better to say the students get the shaft.

      (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
  5. hotdog says:

    Typical, the ‘suits’ make a fortune while the stoonts and riff raff at the bottom of the power pole pay all the bills.
    It would be very interesting if the remedy proposed by Cheseburger for the creep who beat up that poor woman at mental health were applied to our fat cats (the business and university executives, wall street thieves etc), our country would get back on track. Remember Janis, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”?. We aren’t there yet, but we might get there someday and bring justice to society. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the Hummers with flat tires, the rich afraid to show their faces on Rodeo Drive in B Hills for fear of reprisals for those they have ripped off-or neglected? To see the wealthy developers slinking into our city hall with their eyes darting this way and that for fear of running into citizens tired of having their town used as a cash cow for the ‘elite’? To have the council members actually treat the public with respect (and fear if necessary) instead of the usual benign neglect we often get? I guess I’m just a dreamer…

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
    • r0y says:

      Not sure which I would prefer: having a fat-cat rip me off or aligning myself with people so full of vitriol they dream of violence… talk about a looser situation for all.

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
      • hotdog says:

        Childish simplicity to demean retaliation for centuries of abuse. Easy, many will blindly follow the non reasoning and feel ever so smug in their ‘responsible’ attitude. Very safe and cozy position to take, and most will give you a pat on the back. And nothing will happen, no progress, no equity, no justice. The rich and privileged love you…

        (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
  6. rogerfreberg says:

    hmmmm… my how we hear rumors… I ‘hear’ that the various foundations have or are paying for various perks… like mortgage subsidies. Let’s say, you recruit someone and offer him an extra $10,000 a year towards their mortgage… rumors also include making some people Foundation employees for work that isn’t associated with the foundation…

    When January 1st comes along ( the date when the foundations must be transparent), it would be fun to look at a complete listing of accounts payable over the years.

    I am still wondering why the one person in California’s Legislature — Mr. Blakeslee — voted against this bill? Was Cal Poly in deep doo doo ( a technical business expression)?

    (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
    • zaphod says:


      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • r0y says:

      Because Sam Blakeslee is a cowardly weasel and opportunist, riding on the coat-tails of his family name. A poor excuse for an elected official, but that is how we do it in SLO!

      Our country screams about greedy wall street, greedy “banksters” and excessive health care costs. We seem silent on academia… that is starting to change. (FYI: college is up almost 500% since 1985, healthcare is about 300% for same period, and energy is about 150% – greedy oil, indeed).

      (6) 16 Total Votes - 11 up - 5 down
      • r0y says:

        that should have read “college tuition costs are up almost 500%…”

        (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
      • easymoney says:

        What the H does Sam Blakeslee or his family have to do with any of this?
        This is a admin problem at the univeristy and their milking money from one area to fund a very specific few is the crux of the matter…
        “Leaders at CSU have supplemented executive pay using private funds on three other occasions, California Watch said.”
        If they do not have the funds to pay these outrageous sums, maybe they should stop doing so…

        (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
      • danika says:

        Now, now R0y, don’t be shy…say what you feel! lololol

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down

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