Cal U president ousted |

Cal U president ousted

Susan K. McFarland
Former California University of Pennsylvania President President Dr. Angelo Armenti Jr. on Oct. 29, 2010. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Besieged California University of Pennsylvania President Angelo Armenti Jr. is no longer leading the school where faculty and students have voiced passionate pleas to end the free spending they say has plunged the college deeply into debt, according to a state legislator who serves on the school’s board of trustees.

Rep. Peter J. Daley, D-California, confirmed late Wednesday night that “Angelo Armenti is no longer the president of California University.”

Daley, who said he was not “privy” to information about whether Armenti was fired or resigned, was informed last night of the development by board of trustees President Robert Irey.

Irey said Armenti was terminated, but would offer no details, stating only that the trustees “unfortunately” did not have a role in the decision.

Daley said the decision was made by the State System of Higher Education Board of Governors, which met last night to discuss the issue. The system oversees the 14 state universities.

Armenti could not be reached for comment.

University spokeswoman Christine Kindl would not comment about the matter.

State System of Higher Education spokesman Kenn Marshall said he wasn’t aware of the development.

In recent months, Armenti, 72, has been under attack by students and faculty who said that academics at the school have suffered because of heavy debt incurred during a campuswide building boom. Programs have been cut, and several managers were furloughed as cost-cutting measures.

A sprawling, $59 million convocation center that opened late last year has been a lightning rod for critics who say the center has produced only $11,000 of the $1.1 million in revenue needed to operate the facility.

Earlier this year, complaints led the state system to conduct an audit of spending at the school, and members of the university’s faculty union wrote a letter to the chancellor of the state system asking the state to intervene.

Barbara Hess, president of the faculty union, said last night that “I’m sorry that anybody had to lose their job, but this is in the best interest of the university.”

“We have been very concerned about spending and voiced our concerns and somebody is listening to us,” Hess added.

Armenti, a former physics professor and the longest-tenured president in the state system, has led the school for two decades. During that time, the school’s enrollment increased and dilapidated buildings were replaced with state-of-the-art classroom space and dormitories. But the school’s debt has grown to nearly $97 million, the second highest in the state system.

All state-supported schools are dealing with a 20 percent cut in state appropriations and the possibility of even more funding cuts this year.

Daley said, “We need to move on from this point and decide what’s best for the students and to make it a vital education center in Western Pennsylvania.”

Daley said he did not know who would be leading the school in the interim.

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