When I sat down with Jeffrey Armstrong for an interview about him living on campus, it was obvious he couldn’t be more excited about the near future at Cal Poly. But what struck me the most was his openness about his personal life.
In his office on the top floor of Cal Poly’s Administration Building, overlooking campus and Bishop Peak, we talked about his decision to take the position as Cal Poly’s new president and be away from family, who reside in Michigan.
He was open to talking not only about the future goals at Cal Poly but also his family and their support for him becoming the new president, which proved itself when he and his wife, Sharon, decided to move into the University House on campus.
“(To live on campus) was a decision that was tied up with who (Sharon and I) are, which is a part of the Cal Poly family,” Armstrong said. “We want to be on campus and connected with the faculty, staff and especially the students.”
Armstrong mentioned his wife throughout the interview, and each time it was always talking about how supportive and excited she is.
“Jeff knows that I am behind him 100 percent,” Sharon said. “We talked about the whole process (as it happened), and I got to come out here for the main interview.”
As she ventured around San Luis Obispo and Caly Poly, the people really stood out in Sharon’s mind to help make the decision that much easier.
“We were struck by the friendliness and kindness of everybody we met,” Sharon said.
But even with Sharon’s support, Armstrong said he also has two kids, who are more adults than kids now, to think about.
His son is a junior at Michigan State University (MSU), he said and Sharon added he plans to come out and visit the new home in California in March. Their daughter is an MSU alumna who is getting married in May — something Armstrong said he and Sharon have already made arrangements to travel back for.
“It’s bittersweet that they are back there,” Sharon said, but that she looks forward to their visiting often.
Armstrong’s new position officially began Feb. 1, so both he and Sharon are trying to get settled and acclimated to the new environment. And becoming acclimated to San Luis Obispo isn’t something that worries Sharon or the president.
During her first visit Sharon was able to see San Luis Obispo for the first time, and the visit confirmed that this was a great opportunity, she said.
“I’ve only been to California one other time and the sunshine is amazing,” Sharon said.
The weather is something that is sticking out in both the president and Sharon’s mind when asked what they are enjoying about California thus far. In comparison, the Central Coast has a very different climate from what the Armstrongs were used to while living in Michigan.
In February, East Lansing, Mich. (where MSU is) has an average high of 32 degrees, and a low of 15 degrees. In San Luis Obispo, the average high is 66 degrees, and the average low is 44 degrees in February, according The Weather Channel website.
Also, when Michigan experiences rain and snow around this time of year, many San Luis Obispo residence are headed to the beach to enjoy 80-degree weather.
“My wife and I are very adaptable,” Armstrong said. “We adapted well to the Michigan climate, we like the four seasons. We will miss some aspects, but I won’t miss snow blowing or shoveling snow with wind chill below zero.”