College Matters | Will this be an amazing semester?

This article was originally posted in the College Matters column of the Times-Standard.

Thursday, January 18, 2024 - 1:30pm

At the beginning of every academic year and every academic semester, there is great optimism. Will this be the time “something” happens? Will we get that grant we applied for last semester? Will the salary increase actually go through successfully? How will our students be when they return from the semester break? Will we thrive as a campus like we know we can? Will we stumble, and on what? Will we cooperate and be kind to each other? Will the students graduate, as they are planning to do?

At the start of every semester, there are many good questions asked. And for the past four years, there have been many extremely strong success stories all leading toward today. Will this be the amazing semester we know it can be?

Also as the semester begins, there remains a great sense of gratitude. We are particularly grateful for our many community partners who consistently support our efforts. They provide the guidance, the know-how, and the different perspectives that help us while also making us a stronger community partner as well. In many ways, they play a part in how the questions above are answered.

The leadership, faculty, and staff at College of the Redwoods >> Together we provide the higher educational opportunity in this region. We share much in common, and these are the partners we are most able to support professionally. In recent years, we have built the strongest working relationship between a two-year and four-year institution imaginable. We are looking to do even more together in this coming semester. Humboldt is also working to replicate some of these efforts with other Northern California community colleges.

The Northern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association >> Truly an outstanding collection of individuals, this group of tribal leaders from our region are always willing to have meaningful and forthright conversations. President Flamer at CR and I meet with tribal chairs regularly. I am amazed at the breadth of their expertise and the many areas they are able to address. I always keep in mind that, while leading a comprehensive university might be challenging, I am not running a full government such as a tribal chairperson would be doing. During my time as president at Humboldt, I am perhaps most proud of the mutual trust and partnership we have worked to create with our tribal partners.

The Chambers of Commerce on the North Coast >> Sometimes in business, just showing up is a big part of what you need to do. With our local chambers of commerce, we have been focused on attending the events, being available when people have questions, and making sure more people from Cal Poly Humboldt get to know more business leaders and community members. We also get great advice from the directors and the members, and Humboldt employees often serve on chamber working groups and boards. At the big annual events, we try to have tables with teams from Humboldt, as we now do at annual events of many other organizations. Looking ahead, we will be sending representatives to participate with some of the chambers in Del Norte, Mendocino, and Shasta counties.

The mayors, councils, and city managers of our local cities >> They lead the local communities that are so vital to Cal Poly Humboldt’s success. The small towns of Humboldt County are where our employees make their homes, and they play an impactful part in providing a positive experience for our students. We work together on vital projects, from roads and other infrastructure to housing and health care efforts. Historically, of course, Cal Poly Humboldt wouldn’t exist without the local communities that lobbied the state to create Humboldt State Normal School.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and statewide elected officials >> The individuals in these roles have been amazing advocates for Cal Poly Humboldt and many have played direct roles in bringing new resources to support the campus. They are sounding boards and trusted advisors. They connect Humboldt in many different ways with individuals and organizations that can help make us more successful. I can’t overstate how much this campus appreciates them.

The President’s Community Advisory Council >> This is a group organized by my office, made up of a broad range of leaders from our local communities. They meet regularly to learn about what is happening at Humboldt, ask questions, and provide feedback. They also help us see things from different angles, and give candid warnings when they think an issue is bigger than we might think. Their counsel is refreshing and their support is unwavering. If you wonder why this campus is so connected to the community, it is in many ways because of the advice and support this group provides this campus’ leadership.

The Cal Poly Humboldt Foundation Board and Boldly Rising Campaign Cabinet >> These are groups organized specifically to support Cal Poly Humboldt. They are business leaders, retirees, alumni, parents, friends, community members, and donors from across the United States. They support this campus, and its students, because they believe in our vision for creating a distinctive university that offers an outstanding student experience. The Foundation Board oversees our endowment, engages donors, and plays a big part in fundraising. They were the impetus for Humboldt’s first capital campaign, and the Boldly Rising Campaign Cabinet came together specifically to lead that campaign.

The North Coast is an amazing place filled with individuals who work to make our communities better. Many partner closely with Cal Poly Humboldt, helping us to provide a more positive and meaningful educational experience for our students. Be kind.

Dr. Tom Jackson Jr. is the president of Cal Poly Humboldt.