SLO: Yesterday’s “Defensive Listening Session”

April 17, 2015


Many CFA executive board members were able to attend President Armstrong’s “Listening Session” yesterday. Like you, we were moved by our colleagues’ eloquent expression of their frustrations with Cal Poly’s persistent inequity and inspired by their continuing commitment to our students. Like you, we were not persuaded by the administration’s rhetoric.

Based on our data, we have concluded that our administrators made several factually incorrect statements at the “Listening Session.”

1) President Armstrong said that the majority of new hires were for advancement positions and mentioned 17 new advancement hires. Cal Poly’s “Fall 2014 Fact Book” indicates that 16 administrators were hired between Fall 2012 and Fall 2013 and another 41 between Fall 2013 and Fall 2014. With an average administrator salary of $107,000, we estimate these 57 new administrators added a $6M salary burden (exclusive of benefits) to Cal Poly’s budget.

2) President Armstrong agreed that $0.5M is not enough for the equity program this year and that he’s trying to get more. The truth is that he had at least $6M more and he chose to spend it on administrators.

3) President Armstrong indicated that this was the first time he had a chance to run an equity program. This is factually incorrect. This is the first time CFA f orced him to institute an equity program; voluntary equity programs have been included in the last several contracts. He chose not to implement an equity program earlier because he chose to spend the funds on administrators.

4) President Armstrong referred to the collective bargaining process several times, implying that he was constrained by CFA from providing salary increases to faculty. Again, this is factually incorrect. Administrators have numerous mechanisms at their disposal to give raises to faculty; they choose not to use them. CFA prevents administration from decreasing salaries, not from increasing them.

Additionally, we have a question about another statement made during the session. Provost Enz Finken stated that when they devised the equity program they looked at the worst compression and inversion cases, including lecturers. It is our understanding that lecturers were not ever included on the spreadsheet administration used to determine equity raises. We would like administration to provide evidence to the contrary.

During the last two weeks, we have received hundreds of emails from faculty groups expressing their dismay about administrative bloat. We did not join the email conversation, because we understood that some faculty members were forwarding the emails to the president and the provost—and we wanted our administrators to understand that this was a groundswell of faculty discontent, not a union-orchestrated communication. Our administrators are, rightfully, far more frightened of 1,400 disgruntled professors, lecturers, coaches, librarians and counselors than they are of a dozen CFA executive board members.

We have been compiling data and analysis about this problem for the last several months. We have posted that data on our PolyLearn site; you have access to this site via “Other PolyLearn Access” on the Cal Poly portal. Under the “Announcement” section, you will find several documents. The first document is a brief summary of our analysis. The second document contains the salaries of all Cal Poly administrators for 2010, 2013 and 2014. The spreadsheet also calculates the percentage of raises administrators have received, the average of their salaries, the growth in the burden of total administration salaries, the decline of tenure line faculty headcount, etc. (We have also attached those documents to this email.) The last three documents are the CFA “Race to the Bottom” white papers that CFA has released during the last two months. If you cannot access the PolyLearn site, please contact us at and we will make sure you are added to the site. If you have information you would like us to add to the site, please forward it to the same email address.

During the “Listening Session,” several faculty members tried to tell President Armstrong that actions speak louder than words. It’s time for us to demonstrate this principle ourselves. CFA is trying to schedule a room for a CFA chapter meeting for Thursday, April 24, 2015; we will communicate details later.

We all need to begin planning concrete, relevant actions to prove to administrators that we serious about demanding real equity and improving working conditions for faculty. Please join the existing email conversations, start email conversations of your own, and copy the CFA executive board (,,,,,,,,, on your email so that we can hear your thoughts. We will be compiling all your data, opinions and ideas for future actions to present to the entire faculty.

CFA Executive Board, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo