The California State University Native American Initiative began in March 2006 as the result of a CSU summit with the representing leaders of 40 California Tribes discussing strategies to instill a pathway to higher education for Native American families. Humboldt State President Lisa Rossbacher will lead the Native American Initiative council.
Last week, HSU hosted the California State University Native American Initiative statewide meeting in the Native American Forum on campus. Representatives from the California State University Chancellor’s Office, along with representatives from 19 of the 23 California State Universities, met with Rossbacher.
Former HSU president Rollin Richmond was chair of the initiative, too. During that time, there were two summit meetings.
Rossbacher was appointed by CSU Chancellor Timothy White to lead this initiative in February.
“I am truly honored to be asked to serve as the presidential liaison with this council,” Rossbacher said.
During the summit, Rossbacher laid out the overall goals of the Native American Initiative council.
“One of our overall goals is to identify, share and support strategies that will help the graduation initiative [of 2025] and [Native American] student success. Strategies that will help us recruit students, retain students and graduate Native American students, and help them be successful beyond their time in the CSU,” Rossbacher said.
Item two on the agenda was to support Native American studies research.
“One of our goals is to engage and support faculty, staff and student research into the wide variety of fields related to Native Americans in the state and national Native American studies,” Rossbacher said.
Another subject Rossbacher wanted to focus on was sharing information.
“How can we share information that we are discussing and coming up with to support [Native American] student success? How do we share that with the tribal leaders throughout the state and the tribal communities? How do we share that critical information with the chancellor, his staff and the presidents throughout the CSU system?” Rossbacher said.
The goals of the April 4 meeting were different than the overall goals of the Native American Initiative.
The first goal of the April 4 meeting was to learn about updates and current CSU data on Native American student success, including recruitment, retention and graduation.
“Look at the achievement gap or the opportunity gap that may be affecting Native American students on our campuses,” Rossbacher said.
The third goal on the agenda was learning about some of the trends, practices and successes of the K-12 level and how that assists Native American students moving on to the California State system.
The fourth goal of the meeting is developing strength.
“Because I am the campus president, I want to be sure that you all know that there is something we are doing here at Humboldt State to accomplish those goals,” Rossbacher said.
There are funds available from the Chancellor’s Office to support academic programming.
“We do have funds that were established through the president’s council for underserved communities. It is a grant to the campus for academic preparation to strengthen the graduation initiative,” Maryann Jackmon of the CSU Chancellor’s Office said.
“Funds can help students travel and see what is out in the world waiting for them after graduation,” Theresa Gregor, CSU Long Beach faculty said.
The Tribal Liaison from the California State University of San Marcos, Tishmall Turner, is also the vice-chair of the Rincon Tribe.
“President Rossbacher seems really genuine and sincere and she will do a good job of leading the Initiative,” Turner said.
“President Rossbacher has been very supportive of Native American studies since she came to HSU,” Dale Ann Sherman, retired HSU Native American studies faculty said.
The initiative will provide support to Native American faculty and students.
“It gives you that lift to do the work. You don’t have to fight just to get to the point where someone will say go ahead,” Leece Lee-Oliver, CSU Fresno director of American Indian studies program and department of women’s studies said.