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Brace yourselves: January 2022, “HSU” will be a thing of the past

HSU begins the process to change from a state university into a polytechnic institution
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Humboldt State has presented the initial movement to officially change HSU into California’s third polytechnic university. On Nov. 9 the California State University Board of Trustees met to discuss the name change of Humboldt State University to California State Polytechnic University Humboldt, or Cal Poly Humboldt. If approved by the trustees at the next meeting in Jan. 2022, the name change would be effective immediately.

Starting in Jan. 2021, HSU began a self study program to decide if they had the qualities to fulfill the role as a polytechnic university. President Tom Jackson expects the turning of HSU into a polytechnic to assist in stimulating the economy of Northern California. Currently HSU is the largest employer in the area, boasting $495 million annually.

On June 25 Governor Newsom and the state legislature designated $433 million in one time funding for facilities as well as $25 million in recurring operating costs to help transform HSU into a polytechnic university. At the November board of trustees meeting Provost Jenn Capps, President Tom Jackson, and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Sylvia Alva presented an item to officially request the name change of Humboldt State University. The action will be taken in the January 2022 Board of Trustees meeting.

A polytechnic university is one that embraces a learn-by-doing approach. This allows students to apply learned concepts in preparation for careers. It includes natural and applied sciences, technology, engineering, and also focuses on liberal arts curriculum. According to Jen Capps, HSU will be a different kind of polytechnic university.

“We don’t deem to replicate the excellence at Pomona and San Luis Obispo,” Capps said. “But strengthen our expertise in sustainability and traditional ecological knowledge, and social justice and who we include and not who we exclude.”

Within the first seven years of becoming a polytechnic, HSU projects to bring up the enrollment to 11,000 students, nearly doubling the current enrollment numbers. This has been a key goal since the recent years have seen steadily declining enrollment numbers.

HSU plans on hiring more diverse staff and faculty to increase inclusion. Another objective for the university is increasing tribal partnership with the thirteen tribes in the surrounding areas. The university offers education to the tribal populations to help them grow and flourish. Both the university and the tribes will work together to fuse their knowledge of science and the environment to help support the community.

The board of trustees seemed generally supportive of the HSU name change, although they did have key questions for the presenters. Questions posed addressed student housing concerns, giving back to tribes, supporting higher education in tribal communities, as well as strategies to improve enrollment.

Although many questions are yet to be answered, trustees were overall supportive. One trustee, Adam Day, voiced his support of the polytechnic change.

“It just makes so much sense for so many reasons,” Day said. “The special place this campus holds in that physical geographical location. Historical issues, the economic issues, social economic issues, environmental and ecological. Your campus is so unique.”

With the incredible amount of money designated to the school and the immense pressure to properly create a new polytechnic, HSU president Tom Jackson seems up for the challenge.

“This is a huge responsibility,” Jackson said. “HSU will be deliberate and respectful and responsible and forthright as we accept the investment by the people of California in this incredible university and the emerging region. This is our moment.”

There will be a virtual open forum held by Provost Jen Capps and Chief of Staff Sherie C. Gordon on November 19th at 10:00AM. This is an opportunity for students, staff, faculty and members of the community to share their thoughts and ask questions about the upcoming changes. Register for the Zoom meeting in advance, online. If you have further questions call or email poly@humboldt.edu or 707-826-3300.

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