Year in Review 2020-21

President Jackson

This has been a year of successes and challenges. Humboldt State University continues to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, with hard work and sacrifice from staff, faculty, and students. In the meantime, we are well on our way to becoming the state's third polytechnic university, and the state's historic $458 million investment in HSU has fast-tracked our efforts to add new programs and facilities.

I'm grateful to CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, to Governor Newsom, and the State Legislature—as well as their hard-working teams—for their belief in and support of HSU. We are looking at an extraordinary opportunity to improve HSU, the North Coast, and the lives of thousands of students and Californians. I'm also grateful to College of the Redwoods President Keith Flamer for his ongoing collaboration with HSU and support of the local community.

During the 2020-21 year, I was proud to recognize two people with Distinguished Service Awards. Loren Blanchard was our greatest ally in helping us address our diversity goals and believing in HSU as we discussed the potential of becoming a polytechnic. Blanchard served as the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at California State University (CSU) for the past five years and was recently named President of the University of Houston-Downtown.

Loren Blanchard (left) and Cris Koczera, recipients of HSU's 2021 President's Distinguished Service Award.

Loren Blanchard (left) and Cris Koczera, recipients of HSU's 2021 President's Distinguished Service Award.

Cris Koczera, Emergency Coordinator and Director of Risk Management, has been instrumental to our pandemic response over the past year. She guided our campus through the pandemic, built incredibly strong relations with the community and public health, and maintained a positive and "can-do" attitude

Chancellor Castro began in January, after a tenure as the president of Fresno State. He is also a CSU graduate, and his daughter attended Humboldt State, so he’s familiar with our campus. During a virtual visit this spring, I was proud to join many colleagues on campus and in the community in sharing some of the successes of our campus and our excitement for the future.

I know this has been a difficult year. The pandemic conditions appeared to be improving this summer, and now we are headed toward more uncharted territory as the delta variant challenges us. Our campus community has been resilient and flexible, and in many ways we’ve had to remake what higher education looks like.

We will continue to do that, as we develop a 21st-century strategic plan and polytechnic university that envisions a bold, innovative future with enhanced tribal relations, expanded regional impact, and a positive, meaningful educational experience for our students.

Tom Jackson, Jr., President

Image of Founders Hall

By the numbers

$458M in support of the polytechnic vision from State of California

$21.2M Federal Emergency Funds for Students

$9.4M donor support in 2020-21

$30M grants and contracts

2,804 vaccinations administered on campus

10,539 tests administered on campus

91 student athletes on conference All-Academic team

68,000+ people helped by NorCal SBDC since March 2020

3,300 supplies and equipment shipped to students learning at a distance

1 new Campus Store coming to downtown Arcata

1 new Campus Store coming to Eureka

1 WSCUC specialty accreditation visit successfully completed


Hydro Field Trip Commencement photo HSU on Cap Students at Homecoming event

As we return to campus, and some sense of normalcy, I'm thankful for all of the hard work faculty, staff, students, and their friends and families have committed to keeping each other healthy and safe and continuing our mission of higher education.

The last year has forced Humboldt to show unprecedented resiliency. The global pandemic has led to immediate and long term changes to how we teach, learn, research, support students, and operate the campus.

Since last Spring, hundreds of essential workers have kept campus safe and operational. Playing a pivotal role in the University's pandemic response, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has worked to stay ahead of public health recommendations and best practices in higher education. The EOC and various advisory groups have continued to meet biweekly throughout the pandemic to plan, prepare, and respond to the virus' effect on every aspect of campus.

Faculty have dug deep in the last year, spending extra time to adapt to virtual and hybrid courses, with help from the Center for Teaching & Learning. Geneviève Marchand's Outdoor Adventure Recreation class was able to continue in-person outdoor leadership training through backpacking and other trips. "The adventure education world is very group-oriented," says Marchand. "I know the pandemic has been hard on students, but these semesters have been just as valuable as any other."

Art instructor Jimmie Nord also found a silver lining in making stronger connections with individual and small groups of students. In typical semesters, Nord provides all the supplies for his art students. Since last Spring, he has helped his students find creative workarounds by using materials they already had at home. In the process, Nord says that his students' critical thinking and problem solving skills have blossomed.

And to mimic in-person learning through online instruction, Wildlife Professor Barton designed a distributed experiment in which students individually collected data to later populate into a larger dataset. Using AudioMoths, a low-cost acoustic monitoring device, each graduate student collected recordings of nocturnal bat activity.

Thanks to rapid advances in medical scientific research, the University was able to start offering COVID-19 vaccinations to the HSU community this Spring. Over the past year, a preventative approach to coronavirus testing has been crucial to the University's pandemic response. And Counseling & Psychological Services has played a crucial role providing support to the student community through virtual one-on-one and group counseling.

The HSU community rallied to help students from Lassen Community College as wildfires threatened their Susanville campus. More than 100 students evacuated to HSU residence halls, where the University provided them with supplies and, in coordination with the local Red Cross, health and wellbeing services and other support during their stay.

Pandemic support

1,250 Covid-19 test kits prepared by
HSU Faculty & Alumni

300+ face coverings made/donated by
HSU staff for students

4 Ventilators purchased by the HSU Foundation and donated to St. Joseph Health

$153,000 to the Student Adversity Fund

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

2,100 students in the class of 2020 and 2,600 in the class of 2021 earned degrees and credentials

1,100 graduates participated in small, in-person commencement ceremonies

4 M living CSU alumni with the Class of 2021

9 Golden Grads —alumni who graduated at least 50 years ago—participated in Commencement for the first time

Walter James Lara, Sr., becomes 9th honorary degree recipient


Tenaya Wood field work genetic diversity study

Drawing on our strengths in STEM, environmental and social responsibility, and experiential learning, Humboldt State University has been working with the CSU, the state of California, and the local community to become the third polytechnic university in the CSU system.

$433M in one-time funding

$25M in ongoing funding

Funding approved to support transition of HSU to a polytechnic university by the state legislature and governor's office.

9 new degree programs

3 certificate programs
proposed for Fall 2023

They include: Applied Fire Science & Management BS, Cannabis Studies BA, Data Science BS, Energy Systems Engineering BS, Engineering Leadership MS, Geospatial Analysis BS, Marine Biology BS, Mechanical Engineering BS, Software Engineering BS, plus certificates in Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Sustainability.

7 new degree programs

2 certificate programs
proposed for Fall 2026

Biotechnology BS, Computer Science & Information Technology BS, Digital Arts & Media BA, Food Systems Science BS, Health Navigator & Narrative Medicine BA, Nursing MSN, STEM Education MEd, plus Certificates in Biotechnology and Clinical Lab Science.

5 new degree programs
proposed for Fall 2029

Agriculture BS, Cybersecurity BS, Forest Engineering BS, Regenerative Engineering Design & Technology BS, and Speech Language Pathology MS.

This is an historic investment. It will be transformational for our institution and will have a major impact on the North Coast economy for decades to come. These investments will be leveraged to help HSU eliminate equity gaps and raise graduation rates to meet the goals of CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025.

$459M estimated annual
economic impact of HSU

HSU is already the largest employer in the area, and the new funding could double the institution's size, with new faculty, staff, and an increase in students.

This is a huge responsibility. HSU will be deliberate, respectful, responsible, and forthright as we accept the investment by the people of California in this incredible university and this amazing region.

This is our moment. As a community, we have come together to create an amazing vision for a 21st Century polytechnic with sustainability at its core. This is our time to become the place we have always envisioned.


This has not been an easy year for faculty and students.
But we've seen amazing resilience and ingenuity to continue the education of our students.

Ciencia Para Todos

An innovative new Humboldt State organization, Ciencia Para Todos, promotes "science for all" through bilingual education to inspire elementary school students to consider science majors in higher education.

¡Échale Ganas!

¡Échale Ganas! is a new grant-funded program at Humboldt State designed to support hands-on learning and career advancement for Latinx students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Humboldt State University Press

HSU faculty have published three acclaimed open-access textbooks with Humboldt State University Press. These well-reviewed works provide introductions to the fields of Spanish language, LGBTQ history, and geospatial science.

Native American Programs Display in BSS building

Humboldt State University's Native American Studies program provides an essential Indigenous voice on campus. Due to the advocacy of early Indigenous students and faculty at HSU, the program, which turned 25 this year, is stronger than ever as it continues to refine HSU's role as a leader in Native American scholarship.

Exteriror of the Food Sovereignty Lab

A groundbreaking facility is in the works to explore healthy, traditional Indigenous food systems and highlight Indigenous representation on campus. The Food Sovereignty Lab and Cultural Workspace will operate as a commercial kitchen, with a plant drying station and salmon pit for working with and preparing food, baskets, and regalia. It will serve as a study and research space, and will host University and community events. When complete, HSU will become the first university in California with a space dedicated to uplifting tribal sovereignty through the research, practice, and preservation of food sovereignty. Learn more about the Food Sovereignty Lab.

Inside the Fire Resilience Institute

The recently launched Fire Resilience Institute serves as a center of expertise in wildland fire science, ecology, and management through cultivating partnerships and fostering interdisciplinary research, education, training, and outreach to promote effective solutions to wildfire-related challenges while incorporating the need for and importance of fire as an ecological and cultural process. Learn more about the Fire Resilience Institute.

Nursing Student with Patient

Humboldt State University's Nursing and Social Work programs are embarking on a cutting-edge partnership. A new two-year certificate program will offer Humboldt State University Social Work and Nursing students the opportunity to supplement their education with training and clinical hours focused on community health.

FILM 415 Filmmaking III class

Despite the uncertainty of higher education during the pandemic, Humboldt State experienced an 8% increase in the number of new graduate students from last year and the highest number since 2017.

Rhett Davis and Alice Nicole Peterson

HSU senior Rhett Davis and Alice Nicole Peterson ('20, Film) were recognized at the October CSU Media Arts Festival virtual awards ceremony. Their winning submissions were original screenplays adapted from class writing assignments in HSU's Department of Theatre, Film & Dance.

Deepti Chatti, Catalina Cuellar-Gempeler, Claire Till, and Sean Stewart

Environmental Studies Professor Deepti Chatti, Biology Professor Catalina Cuellar-Gempeler, and Chemistry Professor Claire Till were named winners of the the McCrone Promising Faculty Scholars Award. Environmental Science & Management graduate student Sean Stewart was awarded the Alistair and Judith McCrone Graduate Fellowship.

Cover of El Leñador

Humboldt State student journalists received three first place regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists this month for their work published in 2020. They also received two finalist honors. El Leñador and The Lumberjack newspapers and Osprey magazine were recognized as some of the best student publications in a region that includes Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Mariana Islands.

Eric Riggs Photo

Eric Riggs, Professor of Geoscience Education at Texas A&M University, will serve as the next Dean for the College of Natural Resources & Sciences. Riggs has served for the last 10 years at Texas A&M in various roles—most notably from 2011-2018 he was the Associate Dean for Diversity and Climate in the College of Geosciences where he was charged with monitoring the academic climate and diversity of the College and was tasked with taking direct action to improve the environment for an increasingly diverse population of faculty, students, and staff.

iPad Image

HSU joined a CSU initiative to offer iPads to all incoming first-year and new transfer students who register to participate in the initiative. Students will be provided with this iPad bundle for the entirety of their undergraduate experience at the CSU. "I am excited to get technology into the hands of students so they can learn when and where they want to and succeed in their pursuits," says Bethany Rizzardi, Chief Information Officer.

Divers in pool

In partnership with Humboldt Bay Fire, HSU has launched a Public Safety Dive Training program to train rescue scuba divers in deep water recovery. The first cohort of volunteer trainees are six HSU faculty members and instructors from the Department of Kinesiology & Recreation Administration's Scientific Diving program. Emergency responders from Shasta to Mendocino will be invited to participate in future certification events.

Students in classroom

Humboldt State once again received distinction from the WASC Senior College & University Commission (WSCUC) commending the University’s comprehensive and strategic service to students. Following a special visit from the WSCUC in April, the commission highlighted HSU’s empowered and diverse leadership and commitment to improving equitable student outcomes through innovative programs like the College of Natural Resources & Sciences place-based learning communities. In addition, WSCUC gave accolades to HSU’s transparency and communications regarding the University’s long-term goals like the Strategic Plan and the CSU’s 2025 Graduation Initiative.

Research & Creative Activity

Humboldt State University's Sponsored Programs Foundation will
distribute $974,122 to faculty, staff, and departments this year, based on their grant activity.

301 new grant proposals, requesting $84M, an all time high

183 new awards, totaling $33 M

$30M new grant funding

630 Current active projects with a total award value of $113 million

$2M in grant scholarships and stipends

$5.9M in academic grants to support the educational mission of the campus including for ¡Échale Ganas! and $2.2 million for Trio support services.

Joan Esquibel, a Religious Studies major, won second place for an undergraduate student in the Humanities and Letters category at the 35th Annual California State University Student Research Competition. Esquibel won for her project: "Best-Sellers: How our Concerns Translate into Modern Fiction." She was advised by Religious Studies professors Vincent Biondo and Sara Jaye Hart.

Professors Jayne McGuire and Jasper Oshun have each been named Fulbright Scholars. The pair of Humboldt State faculty will receive grant awards to conduct international research in their fields in 2022. McGuire, a professor of Recreation Administration, will return to the Caribbean to expand on her research with a comparative analysis of the facilitators and barriers of Special Olympics coaches in Jamaica. Geology Professor Oshun will continue research and education on water resources in Peru. The award will help fund travel to Lima, where he will teach in English and Spanish, and collaborate with Peruvian researchers and students for four months.

Building on 16 years of research, Forestry Professor David Greene has found evidence that mast seeding—the boom-or-bust crop cycle typical of most tree species—is governed by a simple weather cue that operates asynchronously across the continent. The findings have significant implications for forest ecosystems in an era of rapid climate change.

A small fish has made big waves in the Atlantic fishing industry thanks to Andre Buchheister, professor of Fisheries Biology. In a landmark collaboration between scientists and the fishing industry, commercial catch limits on Atlantic menhaden, a staple forage fish, will now depend on ecosystem models developed by Buchheister and his collaborators. The decision is a significant step towards an "ecosystem-based" approach to fisheries management that is more holistic and sustainable.

Junior Vincenzo Alatorre ('22, Art) won a campus mural contest to adorn the College of Natural Resources & Sciences building. Alatorre calls his painting "The Merge," his interpretation of a sanctuary in nature on a 4-foot by 8-foot wooden panel. In his artist statement, Alatorre writes, "It's important to embrace nature as a profound and crucial part of our lives and to respect it with our actions." The mural depicts a harmonic North Coast landscape in vibrant hues.

Research by Humboldt State University Psychology Professor Amber Gaffney provides key insights into connections between social isolation, conspiratorial thinking, and resistance to COVID-19 protocols. Working with HSU Psychology instructor Stephanie Souter, along with support from Professor Steve Reicher of University of St. Andrews, Lily Syfers (PhD candidate at University of Alberta) and HSU graduate students James Peabody and Jaz Mendez, Gaffney's team conducted a number of experiments which analyzed how existential self-uncertainty, brought on by feelings of isolation during the pandemic, may open people up to conspiratorial thinking.

Biologists and anglers alike have long considered spring and fall run Chinook salmon to be different animals due to variations in fat content, maturity, and appearance. But a recent study sheds new light on how Chinook (or king) salmon are genetically quite similar and why this may help the native salmon population in the Klamath River. In a recent study published in the journal Science, HSU Fisheries Biology Professor Andrew Kinziger, HSU graduate student James Hearsey, and their colleagues from NOAA, UC Santa Cruz, and Colorado State University compared billions of DNA bases, the DNA building blocks (e.g., A, T, C, and G), in spring and fall Chinook salmon to see where they differed. To their surprise, they found a minute variation between spring and fall salmon on chromosome 28, in a single small region, known as the Region of Strongest Association or RoSA, that determines when fish migrate upriver.

This October, Humboldt State senior Melanie Zhao was named a winner in Zumiez' "Stand Up Campaign," a nationwide contest for activism in the arts. Zumiez, a major apparel brand with more than 700 stores worldwide, partnered with Amplifier Art to rally artists to create for social change. Zhao's artwork, inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, has been projected on buildings across major cities from New York to Seattle.

A recent study by the USDA Forest Service, Humboldt State, and other researchers suggests that if forests had been closer to their historic densities, tree mortality would likely not have been as severe. Published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, the study found that between 2014 and 2018, 34% of trees in unthinned areas died compared with only 11% of trees in thinned areas, according to research conducted by USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station research ecologists Eric Knapp and Malcolm North, research entomologist Chris Fettig, along with co-authors Alexis Bernal and HSU Forestry Professor Jeffrey Kane.

Humboldt Bay will be home to California's first commercial, open-water seaweed farm. This pilot project, led by Humboldt State University and supported by GreenWave, stands to kickstart an industry where environmental sustainability and economic benefits go hand in hand. The farm, called HSU-ProvidenSea, plans to grow native dulse seaweed (Palmaria mollis), which has a variety of uses from garden products to snacks. "Seaweed farming is an industry that is about 500 years old," said farm co-designer, HSU Fisheries Biology Associate Professor Rafael Cuevas Uribe. "But this is going to be the first time here in California that somebody's doing red seaweed at commercial scale in open waters."

A new study by researchers at Humboldt State University is shedding light on an unexpected benefit of bicycling as an exercise in older adults. The study, co-authored by Daniel Aslan ('15, Kinesiology, '16, MS, Kinesiology) and HSU Kinesiology Professor Justus Ortega, looked at adults over the age of 65—some of whom walk for exercise and some who bicycle for exercise. The researchers discovered that those who ride a bicycle for at least 30 minutes, three times a week were less likely to experience age-related physical decline in walking efficiency than those who simply walked for the same period of time. The study also found that the older cyclists were 9-17 percent more efficient at walking than those who didn't ride a bicycle.

To bolster local entrepreneurship and help build more resilient and regenerative communities, Humboldt State University and the local community launched the AWEsome Business Competition, designed to support sustainable business ventures in agriculture, water, or energy in Northern California.

Student Life

Pool in the SAC

College isn't just about grades. We all know that some of the hallmarks of a positive, meaningful education are the extracurricular activities that help us stay healthy and make lifelong friends. That's why HSU is committed to the whole student experience.

Grand Opening SAC

Lumberjacks were welcomed to the reimagined Student Activities Center this semester. The lively activities center at the heart of campus is located in the buildings surrounding the Quad. The center hosts lounge spaces, movies, student services, video games, pool tables, ping pong, and more. It's also the home of the new Bigfoot Burgers restaurant, Kinetic Koffee, Obento, Wildflower Cafe, and Hey Juan Burritos, and will host concerts, tournaments, and other activities. Learn more about the Student Activities Center.

Behind the counter at Bigfoot Burgers

HSU Dining is offering new meal plans, dining enhancements, and a continued focus on providing an innovative culinary experience on campus. The 2021-2022 academic year will bring a shift to the dining program, and five new, lower-cost on-campus meal plans, designed with flexibility and value in mind. Learn more about changes in meal plans, and at the J and College Creek Marketplace.

Minecraft Screen Shot

HSU's PC Gaming Club launched its very own Minecraft server, inviting students and others to help build a new, localized social gaming community. Wildlife senior Sarah Kanga Livingstone launched the HSU Minecraft server, and serves as the lead administrator. Their vision is a digital replica of HSU, where players can carry out the tasks and missions of the game in a safe and supportive environment, designed by and for their peers.

Minecraft Screen Shot

HSU students who volunteer through Youth Educational Services are keeping the spirit of community service alive and well in creative and remote ways during the pandemic. Despite the challenges of virtual volunteerism, Y.E.S. coordinator Melea Smith says that HSU students are staying connected through old-fashioned letter writing, and new virtual mediums. Y.E.S. leaders organized volunteers from five established Y.E.S. programs to pilot the Pen Pal Project. Each Y.E.S. volunteer exchanges letters with 1 to 2 pen pals from the fifth grade class at Pacific Union Elementary in Arcata. Smith says some teachers print out the letters for each student to take home, while other fifth grade classes are adept at using digital tools like Google Classroom.

2021 Outstanding Students Award Recipients

Seth Mattingly (left) and Roman Sotomayor are the Overall Outstanding Students of the Year.

Congratulations to the outstanding students of 2021:

Outstanding Student of the Year (Academic): During their time at HSU, senior Seth Mattingly (Music) has performed in every major musical group available on campus including the jazz orchestra, jazz combos, wind ensemble, calypso band, percussion ensemble, and the University Singers. In total, Seth has participated in 27 semesters of performances by contributing to multiple groups each semester.

Outstanding Student of the Year (Co-curricular): Faculty call senior Roman Sotomayor (Philosophy and Religious Studies) an insightful student with an admirable work ethic and unwavering commitment to his peers and social justice on campus. An active member of the HSU student body, Roman sits on several Associated Students (A.S.) committees and chairs the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee. Last year, he was elected as the Social Justice and Equity Officer for the 2020-21 academic year.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Outdoor Exploration

The past year has been extraordinarily difficult and painful. Even as we have endured the many challenges and losses of the pandemic, we have seen again and again the senseless attacks and deaths of people of color across our nation.

We yearn for a society more closely aligned with the core values and beliefs of our campus community, which include in part: "We believe in the dignity of all and in equitable treatment, opportunities, and outcomes" and "We value contributions in the public interest and environmental, economic, and social responsibility in our work toward viable and sustainable communities."

This work is far from over.

In more recent times, Humboldt has discovered its voice and embraced many facets of social justice, providing access to those who often did not have it, and working for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As we work for change, it is crucial to celebrate successes and acknowledge the progress we are making. In many ways, Humboldt is defining success in social justice and we will continue to do so. For example, for many years, Humboldt has strived to improve race relations, address gender gaps, and develop a more diverse student body, faculty, staff, and administration.


50% of Humboldt students are the FIRST in their family to attend college.

43% of Humboldt students are an ethnicity classified as an underrepresented minority. That is up from 25% in 2010 and 13% in 2000.

Of our 6,431 students, 3.4% are African-American, 2.9% are Asian American, 1.4% are Native, 33.3% are Latinx, 44.9% are White, 6.4% report two or more races, and 7.4% have unknown ethnicities.

For the first time in Humboldt history, the majority of our tenure-track or tenured professors are women.

Since 2019, the eight-person President's Administrative Team (including the Vice Presidents, Chief of Staff, and Special Assistant) has shifted from 20% women to 50% women. The team has changed from 20% to 75% people of color. Nearly all are first-generation college graduates with major national experiences at multiple universities.

This year saw the launch of Humboldt State University's Presidential Speaker Series, which each year will feature national and international experts on issues regarding higher education and of specific interest to HSU and the North Coast. University of Southern California professor Shaun Harper shared "Strategic Action for Racial Equity," discussing racial challenges and opportunities currently facing public universities. He explained how and why faculty, staff, and institutional leaders often mishandle racial situations, and offered numerous practical recommendations for institutional stakeholders who are seriously committed to advancing racial equity at Humboldt State. The second speaker in the series, Emory University Professor George Yancy asked white people to tarry with courage and love within a deeply uncomfortable space: the reality that there is no "white innocence." His objective is to move through spectacular forms of white racism and then question the ways in which non-spectacular "white innocence" works within the same logics of racist whiteness, whiteness as a binary structure that creates a problematic bifurcation: "good whites versus bad whites."

The online magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education has named Humboldt State University one of the 30 The Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs among colleges and universities across the U.S. The report was published in the June edition of Diverse. "HSU employees provide the foundation of a meaningful experience for our students," says Jason L. Meriwether, Vice President of Enrollment Management. "Maintaining a diverse workplace and a healthy team environment is one of our top priorities and essential to HSU's commitment to modeling equity in higher education. Being among the four CSU campuses that earned this recognition is a sincere honor."

This summer, Humboldt State University offered an exciting hands-on STEM learning experience focused on teaching 10th-12th-grade Native American students about Unmanned Aircraft Systems technology—or small drones—and its application to scientific research. The goal of the program was to prepare students to obtain a Federal Aviation Administration UAS pilot's license by the conclusion of a four-week summer session. The program also aimed to inspire and motivate 25 students to pursue higher education, as well as careers in STEM-related fields.

This year's Social Justice Summit, hosted by the Social Justice, Equity, & Inclusion Center, focused on "Healthcare and Wellness: The Intersection of Identity and Care." Topics covered include racial equality, transgender voices, impacts of COVID-19, emotional wellbeing, and health-wealth disparities.

Looking to take a bite out of COVID-19 losses and rebuild a suffering segment of the economy, The Inclusivity Project launched in February with the goal of securing $100 million for 1,000 Black-owned businesses. It has been estimated that about 40%of the nation's Black entrepreneurs have been forced out of business by pandemic-related circumstances, but Chris Horton isn't taking that lying down. A finance expert for Humboldt State University's Northern California Small Business Development Center (NorCal SBDC), Horton is leading a new initiative to reach and help Black small business owners level the playing field

In collaboration with campus and community partners, Humboldt State University's Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence (formerly the African American Center for Academic Excellence), hosted a virtual speakers series in honor of Black Liberation Month this February. In "Mapping Our Routes to Liberation", five distinguished speakers discussed systemic racism and digital media, food sovereignty, and financial equity.

A Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) since 2013, Humboldt State is continuing to holistically support students of color on their pathway to graduation with the Diverse Male Scholars Initiative. Established in 2018 to address a national crisis in retention and graduation rates for male students of color, the initiative received $74,400 in grant funding from California State University this spring. The initiative complements the University's strong identity as an HSI with additional programming like the Klamath Connection and Creando Raices (Creating Roots) learning communities and Vías hacia la Excelencia Académica (Pathways to Excellence), which support Latinx students at HSU.

HSU's 27th annual Indigenous Peoples' Week hosted U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo as a keynote speaker, and included events that focused on indigenous policy, issues, and contributions, and exposed the generational traumas resulting from the colonization of Indigenous peoples.

Biological Sciences Professor Amy Sprowles and Wildlife Professor Matthew Johnson received a Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award from the California State University for their transformative work in Place-Based Learning Communities. Professors Sprowles and Johnson are champions for equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with particular passion for creating welcoming and supporting environments for traditionally underrepresented students. Motivated by Humboldt State's 2013 designation as a Hispanic­ Serving Institution, by subsequent campus-wide strategic planning, and by the interdisciplinary learning communities developed at Evergreen State College, Sprowles and Johnson developed a vision for a unique community of welcome and support to our first-year students called the The Klamath Connection Learning Community.

Alumni and Donor Support

Dan Philips

HSU and our students received strong support from donors this year, who recognized the unique hardships that students faced in the pandemic. In addition to supporting basic needs, donors gave to provide technology and other emergency support to help students continue their education.

Thousands of donors gave more than $9.4 million in charitable support through the Humboldt State University Foundation and charitable grants in support of HSU students and programs.

3,360 donors generously supported HSU students and programs in the last year

Nearly 900 donors were new to giving to the HSU Foundation

1,800 HSU alumni gave back to their alma mater

$3M in gifts from alumni, parents, community members, and other supporters

Nearly $43M in the HSU endowment

674 students were supported through donor-funded scholarships and awards

100+ students supported through the Student Adversity Fund

Thousands of donors gave more than $9 million in charitable support through the Humboldt State University Foundation and charitable grants in support of HSU students and programs. Approximately 3,360 donors generously supported HSU students and programs in the last year. Nearly 900 donors were new to giving to the HSU Foundation. In addition to the generosity of parents, community members, and other supporters, 1,800 HSU alumni gave back to their alma mater, with gifts totalling more than $3 million! The HSU endowment grew to nearly $43 million, and supported nearly 674 students through scholarships and programs.

Donors also gave $158,000 in emergency support for hundreds of students. Gifts raised last year ensure that students can continue on their path to graduation, even during the pandemic. Mayra Guzman ('21, Environmental Science & Management) received Student Adversity Funding to help pay for internet service. As a math and science tutor at a local high school, she was also able to continue working virtually because of the support, ensuring that she didn't lose her job over the semester. "The aid I received from the Student Adversity Fund had benefits that extended beyond the classroom. It also helped me to continue to work during a time when my role was needed the most," she says.

Thanks to the generosity of donors and the Humboldt Area Foundation, more than $20,000 was raised in support of California Dream Act students. The funds will provide emergency financial support to Dreamers in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

And a special thanks to Robin Smith, who stepped up to support the new RN to BSN Nursing Program with a $150,000 gift to create an endowed scholarship. The renewable $2,000 scholarships will support multiple nursing students in the new program. The program will help fill gaps in the current healthcare system, preparing nurses to work in community health settings, public health, and in developing programs to better serve communities. However, many students have found that finances continue to be a barrier, even after they have received their RN and have secured jobs. Many are working nurses, who may not qualify for financial aid but who still face gaps in supporting families and not being able to work full-time. Robin's gift will help improve health care on the North Coast and beyond.

The 2021 Distinguished Alumni have been recognized as leaders in their fields and have been outstanding contributors to their community, nation, or HSU. They include Rich Casale ('75, Natural Resources Management), Heidi Moore-Guynup ('98, Psychology, '00, M.A. Psychology), Drew Petersen ('91, Physical Education), Robert Romano ('95, English, '96, M.A. English), Cathy Sandeen ('76, Speech Communication), and Lynnette Zelezny ('79, Psychology, '81, M.A. Psychology). Read more about their accomplishments.

Five alumni have committed their careers to higher education, excelling as presidents of four universities and one college. Read about these leaders.

The most recent alumna to join the presidential ranks is Cathy Sandeen (’76, Speech Pathology). Sandeen took the helm of California State University East Bay on January 4.

Another leader in the CSU system, Lynnette Zelezny (’79 Psychology, ‘81 M.A. Psychology) was named the first woman president of CSU Bakersfield in 2018.

Like Zelezny, Devorah Lieberman (‘75, Communication Studies) shattered the glass ceiling, becoming the first woman president of the University of La Verne in Southern California in 2011.

Bethami Dobkin (’85, Speech Communication), president of Westminster College, Utah’s only private liberal arts college, grew up in Arcata and her father, Milt Dobkin, was HSU’s Vice President of Academic Affairs from 1969-1986.

The 14th president of North Dakota State University, Dean Bresciani (‘84, Sociology) found his passion at HSU: supporting students.

HSU School of Education instructor and HSU alumna Nora Wynne was named a California Teacher of the Year, and recognized for her leadership and innovation during a challenging educational climate. Wynne's own education started in sunny Paso Robles, California. She moved north for college, earning a degree in Biology from Humboldt State in 1994. At the time, HSU was one of the top schools recruiting volunteers for the Peace Corps. Wynne signed up and headed to Guatemala: the experience opened her eyes to the power of education and inspired her lifelong career in bi-lingual education. "I saw how education could liberate people from dire poverty," says Wynne, who is also Humboldt County's 2020 Teacher of the Year. She has taught Spanish at Arcata area schools since 1999 and serves as the Immersion Coordinator for Spanish language education in the McKinleyville Union School District.

Some of our alumni were also celebrated by the California State University.

Abby Abinanti ('70, Journalism), Chief Judge for the Yurok Tribe, was recognized by the CSU for her long career. Known as Judge Abby throughout Indian Country, Abinanti was the first Native American woman to pass the California bar and the first Native American woman in California to become a state judge. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from University of New Mexico in 1973.

And the CSU's LGBTQ leaders feature included HSU alumni Dan Perez-Sornia. Perez-Sornia was the first nonbinary member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority at Humboldt State. "Even though sororities and fraternities are very gendered organizations, it's important to know times are changing," Perez-Sornia says. "I'm the embodiment of that change."


Marching Lumberjacks

Our student-athletes persevered through a tough year, with the pandemic shutting down all training, practice, and competition for months on end. It was inspiring to see their continued commitment to athletics and academics. As we’ve begun to reopen, we’ve seen student-athletes continue to improve themselves, their teammates, and their communities. Students have begun to return to play, and will continue to participate under strict safety guidelines.

91 student-athletes named to the 2020-21 California Collegiate Athletic Association All-Academic Team, an all-time record for HSU

4,536 community service hours contributed by student-athletes, 21st in the nation for Division II programs

Cooper Jones was appointed Humboldt State University’s new Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics & Campus Recreation. He has more than two decades of experience in athletics and higher education, serving in administrative and revenue generating roles. His expertise includes strategy, planning, implementation, and budgeting for athletics programs; increasing philanthropy through sponsorship and major gift programs; and marketing and promotions. Jones has experience working with innovative executive teams and has proven his leadership skills in many programs in higher education and other organizations.

Athletic Logo

Humboldt State student-athletes are taking to the courts and fields with a new logo. The bold new design reflects the Lumberjacks' history and reimagines the iconic axe emblem. It also ties strongly to the University's "Spirit H"—looking almost as if the "H" has become energized and ready to play. The logo will adorn the Lumberjack Arena floor, athletes' practice gear and equipment, and products available to campus and the community.

Athletics and Center Activities continue to improve student and community programming and services, while Center Activities transitions to Athletics. Center Activities' wide-ranging student and community programming—including outdoor activities, leisure programs, and certification courses—will continue to be offered as COVID-19 safety and protocols allow. These activities will continue to take place at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, on campus, and at various locations around the county. And students and community members will continue to be able to rent outdoor and aquatic equipment for their own adventures from the campus location as well as from the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center.

SJSU football team

The Spartans wore a green "H" decal on the back of the helmet in recognition of Humboldt State's meaningful role in San Jose State's 2020 Mountain West Championship football season.

HSU was able to support the San José State University football team for training and practice ahead of the start of their 2020 and 2021 seasons. Last year's experience was very positive for the San Jose State University football program and set the tone for the Spartans' Mountain West championship season. It was also a success as there were no associated COVID-19 cases from either visit, and the lessons of hosting the team helped HSU improve our policies and procedures. We're hoping the Spartans can repeat the success of their last season!

Psychology Professor Amber Gaffney was chosen as HSU's Faculty Athletics Representative. Gaffney ('06, Psychology) earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University in 2014. Her research spans the breadth of social influence, social change, leadership, intergroup relations, and political psychology, from a social identity perspective. Gaffney is also an accomplished athlete, who was a professional cyclist and raced for the US National Team. She values athletics and sport as part of a well rounded lifestyle and collegiate experience and recognizes the dedication that student-athletes commit to their sport, teams, university, and education. I'm grateful for the tremendous time investment Dr. Gaffney is making in our program to enhance the student-athlete experience.

The Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and 2021 was announced last fall, with a ceremony to be held when it's safe to do so. See the classes here.

The Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and 2021 was announced last fall, with a ceremony to be held when it's safe.

Tae Norwood, 2018 National Assistant Coach of the Year, was hired as the new head coach of the Humboldt State University men's basketball team. It marks the next step in the evolution of a coach with nearly two decades of experience at all levels of collegiate athletics.

Humboldt State University announced a multi-year partnership with NIKE through BSN SPORTS to become the official apparel provider of Lumberjacks Athletics and Recreational Sports.

Nike will serve as the exclusive outfitter for all 11 Lumberjack intercollegiate sports teams. This partnership also includes a brand-new online store for fans to access Lumberjack apparel along with team-specific sites. The new partnership with Nike and BSN SPORTS will provide Humboldt State athletics additional support as well as increased brand-awareness for Lumberjack student-athletes on and off the fields of play.

Drew Petersen was honored by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) by being named a Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach Emeritus.

The NSCA's Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach Emeritus® (RSCCE) is a designation that signifies that a CSCSE® certified coach has demonstrated experience and knowledge in their field for 20 or more years. RSCCE coaches apply foundational knowledge to assess, motivate, educate, and train athletes for the primary goal of improving sport performance.

Petersen is one of 164 coaches nationwide that have the distinction of RSCCE. He has been a valued member of the Humboldt State University Department of Athletics' Staff since 1991. Petersen began the strength and conditioning program at HSU and is responsible for the design and implementation of the year-round strength and conditioning program for all HSU sports. He also coordinates all of HSU's weight room activities and classes for the department of physical education, while supervising staff.

Humboldt State University was announced as part of the inaugural class of Dam Worth It, which seeks to utilize the influential platform of sport partnered with the power of storytelling to end the stigma surrounding mental health. Dam Worth it strives to be the gold standard for creating mental health awareness in our society through the generation and continuous promotion of a positive and inclusive culture surrounding mental health.

Community Engagement & Impact

Chancellor Castro and President Jackson HSU Graduate 2021

Humboldt had the honor of hosting new Chancellor Joseph I. Castro for a virtual campus tour this Spring, which coincided with our polytechnic self-study and strategic plan development. It was an exciting opportunity to show off our initiatives, programs, and community partnerships, as well as the vast potential our campus community holds. Community members were invited to join the tour and share their thoughts with Chancellor Castro during this pivotal time for the University and surrounding area. As we continue to strengthen HSU, we also strengthen our engagement with the community of the North Coast.

A new economic impact study illustrates the CSU's significant and varied economic contributions to the state's economy including a return of nearly seven dollars for every dollar invested in CSU by California. It also highlighted the importance of HSU on the North Coast.

Economic Impact Hightlights

Total Impact on the North Coast in 2019, HSU

Supported nearly $459Min regional industry activity

Supported nearly 4,900 local jobs

Generated $32M in state and local tax revenue each year

Total Impact on the State in 2019, HSU

Supported $533M in statewide industry activity

Supported 5,200+ jobs

Alumni in the region

2,350 additional jobs supported

Supported an additional $27M in state and local tax revenue

Earned an additional $487.6M in earnings attributable to their CSU degree

Alumni in California supported an additional

8,700 jobs

$1.6B in industry activity

$108M in state and local tax revenue

Every $1 the state invested in HSU, $6.08 in statewide spending is generated

A collaboration between Humboldt State University's TRIO Talent Search and Gear Up programs, the University Police Department, and the Humboldt County Office of Education, a new community program that connects public safety professionals with local K-12 students to inspire career path development the series was brought to fruition by Thomas Gray, a Criminology & Justice Studies student at HSU.

In collaboration with Humboldt State University and community partners, the Humboldt Tenant-Landlord Collaboration (HTLC) has launched a new educational program designed to promote best practices for tenants and landlords. Led by HSU's Off-Campus Housing Coordinator, Chant'e Catt, the program helps students, renters, and property owners build positive relationships. Individuals who complete the program earn HTLC's "Good Neighbor" certificate, showing their commitment to improving community relations around housing across Humboldt County.

Hundreds of local eighth graders participated in "I've Been Admitted to College" events over the last year. Students from 25 North Coast schools heard from HSU staff about how to prepare for college and were able to ask HSU students how they overcame barriers to get there. Additional activities included a physical challenge from the Athletics department, an interactive virtual tour of campus, and learning how college students take care of themselves in the Brain Booth, an experiential space to reduce stress in the HSU Library.

This Spring, high school students and their families joined a series of College Chats with HSU and College of the Redwoods professors from a variety of departments. The informal, virtual gatherings were an opportunity for prospective students to get to know a professor and learn about studying their discipline at the college level.

We are proud of the ongoing partnership between HSU and CR. The spirit of collaboration builds on a partnership formalized in a 2019 summit with CR President Keith Flamer. Our goals are to make the CR-to-HSU transfer process seamless and accessible, and to identify potential areas for collaboration in academics, admissions, athletics, and housing. By working together, we’re investing in the future of our communities and the local tribes.

HSU expanded services to provide support and resources to survivors of sexual violence. Last year, HSU's Title IX & Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Prevention office tripled its capacity by adding two full-time staff members, reaffirming the University's commitment to providing support and resources to survivors of sexual violence. The office has also launched a renewed focus on reducing classroom bias experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming students, increasing support for pregnant and parenting students, and educating the HSU community through outreach.

I've been admitted to college

Campus Facilities

New Campus Store on the Plaza, Arcata

The next several years will see profound changes on campus, with new development and enhancement of campus facilities. The state’s $458 million investment includes funding new academic facilities, building renovations, upgrades to lab spaces, additional student housing, technology throughout the curriculum, expanded broadband, and investments in renewable energy research capacity.

HSU is going to be more present in the community with the new Campus Store, selling apparel, gifts, and other merchandise,when it moves to the former Tri-Counties Bank property on the Arcata Plaza. The store has already hosted popular pop-up events, and with the ability to hold student and community-centered events like guest lectures and mixers, students, community members, and visitors will have a welcoming space in the heart of Arcata.

Another exciting development is the new Food Sovereignty Lab, which will explore healthy, traditional Indigenous food systems and highlight Indigenous representation. The Lab will operate as a commercial kitchen, with a plant drying station and salmon pit for working with and preparing food, baskets, and regalia. It will serve as a study and research space, and will host University and community events. When complete, HSU will become the first university in California with a space dedicated to uplifting tribal sovereignty through the research, practice, and preservation of food sovereignty. It is located in the former Hilltop Marketplace, adjacent to the Native American Forum, Goudi'ni Gallery, and Behavioral & Social Sciences building.

The seismic retrofit work on the Library and Theatre Arts building is nearly complete. The revisions improved the safety and integrity of the buildings based on engineering models of a very large earthquake and the installation of sprinklers will enhance safety. The $34 million project began in 2018, and we hope to welcome the campus back into the Library around Spring 2022.

The HSU Foundation—the non-profit organization that accepts donations and manages the endowment for the University—made a major new investment in local real estate. It completed the purchase of nearly eight developable acres within one mile of campus that is known as Craftsman Mall. The property will be held as part of the endowment investments, generating income through rent paid by various small-business tenants. When needed, the property will be available to the University for any number of uses to support students, academic programs, and campus life.

We have signed a Management and Programming Agreement with Capital Public Radio (CapRadio) to manage KHSU and the other non-commercial NPR member stations licensed to the University. The new agreement ensures that high-quality national and state programming for the North Coast will continue and that donations from the region will be used to support the KHSU stations. Humboldt State will work with station management to provide student internships in various facets of radio operations, as requested by faculty and students.


We can all be proud of HSU’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.

We were recognized as a Green College and awarded STARS Gold Rating for sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2020. The Princeton Review named HSU one of 400 schools in the 2021 Guide to Green Colleges, and the STARS Gold Rating highlights a longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice. HSU was the first public university in California to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles on campus. The University hosts several sustainability programs — many of which are student-led, such as Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program, which encourages waste reduction and diversion through its five efforts: the Bicycle Learning Center, Compost, Education, Reusable Office Supply Exchange, and Zero-Waste Events.

In 2020, we achieved goals the University had set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Looking forward, we've begun developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2.0. As an update to the initial plan, the CAP 2.0 will provide a roadmap for further drawing down emissions. It combines additional reduction strategies with efforts to sequester carbon and offset GHG emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The plan also lays out actions to foster equity and the integration of sustainability and climate action into all facets of the University. Additionally, CAP 2.0 includes strategies to ensure the campus can withstand and recover rapidly from climate change driven disruptions. Learn more about CAP 2.0.


The last year has seen changes in leadership at the University, and many organizational development initiatives are currently underway. Those initiatives include People-Centered Change Leadership, Integrated Assessment and Planning, a Quality Assurance Team, and Process Improvement.

Eboni Ford Turnbow

Eboni Ford Turnbow has been named Dean of Students after serving as the Interim Dean of Students since August 2019. Ford Turnbow earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at Wayne State University where she studied the impact of gender and race within work organizations. She earned her M.Ed. in College Student Affairs Leadership at Grand Valley State University, and her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Health Studies at WSU.

Shahrooz Roohparvar

Shahrooz Roohparvar has been appointed the Vice President for Administration and Finance. Nearly everything a university does is impacted by the Chief Financial Officer on a daily basis. From operations, to police, to budget, and policy. Shahrooz is a talented individual with years of campus and business experience. He demonstrates ingenuity, entrepreneurship, humor, and creative vision for what HSU can become.

Anthony Morgan

Anthony Morgan is Humboldt State's newest chief of police and the first African American to hold the position in the University’s history. Arriving in Humboldt with a long career in law enforcement, Morgan is excited about living in the redwoods and working hand-in-hand with the HSU community. Morgan is looking forward to working with the student population, known for their social consciousness and activism, and collaborating with police departments across the CSU to ensure best practices for safe and equitable law enforcement.

Elavie Ndura

Elavie Ndura was appointed the Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Campus Diversity Officer. Ndura came most recently from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, where she served as the Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and engaged 3,000 employees, students, alumni, and Board of Trustees members in diversity and implicit bias training, cross-cultural conversations, mindful facilitation training, and culturally responsive curriculum development and teaching.