by Andres Felix
Three new individuals with years of experience in education and community service have been selected for the roles of Dean of Students, Dean for the College of Extended Education and Global Excellence, and the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success. Hailing from all corners of the nation, these leaders are here to accept the challenge to provide support to the academic institution and its community from their respective roles and offices.
Dr. Mitch Mitchell – Dean of Students
Fresh Dean of Students (DOS), Dr. Mitch Mitchell, began his position in Spring of 2023. He made his first major appearance in his role in the commencement ceremony. Mitchell wants to provide support to the students in any way he can to ensure their best chances of success.
“[My focus is] anything outside of the academic environment,” said Dr. Mitchell. “What students are thinking, what they’re passionate about, what they’re feeling, what they’re doing. I help cultivate whole students that are holistic that can go out and make a difference in this world.”
Dr. Mitchell wants to focus on supporting and expanding cultural centers on campus such as ITEPP and Umoja, as well as ensuring that this community is safe for students to be able to get their education and enjoy themselves.
“My goal is to make Cal Poly [Humboldt] the best place to live, learn, and thrive,” said Dr. Mitchell. “It’s ok to be your authentic self and be different. You’ll find people here that are part of your community here, so this is a place for everybody.”
Dr. Mitchell came of age with many of the odds stacked against him.
“I grew up with a survivor mentality,” said Dr. Mitchell. “I grew up in [Washington] D.C. during a tumultuous time, the height of the crack epidemic and it was the murder capital.”
Dr. Mitchell credits his introduction to higher education and the guidance of his fraternity brothers to smoothing out his rougher edges, and for providing a space where he felt safe to be his authentic self.
A lover of the outdoors, Dr. Mitchell wanted to come to Humboldt due to the lovely nature in the area. When he first visited Humboldt in Spring of 2023, he fell in love with the energy of the area. He noted that it wasn’t just the redwood backdrop, but the people of Humboldt that added to his love of this community.
“From the moment I stepped into Humboldt County, I felt the energy and people pouring into me.” said Dr. Mitchell. “When you come here and you feel the energy and you feel the love, it changes you, and you realize the difference from [other communities] is that it’s really an oasis here.”
From his first visit to the campus in April 2023, many noted his sharp suits and outfits, many of which have the school colors. When asked about his style, Dr. Mitchell explained that dressing sharp is essentially in his DNA.
“Fashion is an art form and a way to express yourself,” Dr. Mitchell explained. “It’s like music, it’s like painting. I will say that the [artform] is in my bloodline. My grandfathers on both sides were really some fly people. My father specifically had monogram collared shirts with his initials on them. I would say [fashion is] in me, and it’s on me.”
Dr. Cindy Bumgarner – Dean for the College of Extended Education and Global Engagement
Coming off a position as Assistant Vice Provost for the Division of Undergraduate Education at UC Berkeley, Dr. Cindy Bumgarner became the Dean for the College of Extended Education and Global Engagement (CEEGE) on July 1st.
Dr. Bumgarner and her office focuses on supporting international students and students who study abroad through Global Engagement by offering immigration service support and academic counselors. On the side of Extended Education, Dr. Bumgarner supports graduates in their professional career, as well as students that are returning to their degree following a hiatus.
“I would imagine that some [students] just had life circumstances or needed to go out and do some work,” said Dr. Bumgarner, “or had something happen in their family, and they just really want to get back and complete their degree.”
On top of this, Dr. Bumhgarner and her office are working on developing certificates from the college such as one in IT. Although she has many tasks, she is excited to rise to the challenge. It’s this opportunity for growth and previous vacations to the Humboldt area while teaching at CSU Chico that drove Dr. Bumgarner to take up a position on this campus.
“[Humboldt] was a spot for me to cool off [from Chico in the summers], but I got to know the community and always sort of paid attention to what was going on the campus,” Dr. Bumgarner explained. “So the idea that I could bring a bunch of knowledge and positively contribute to a campus trying to reaminge itself just really appealed to me.”
Dr. Bumgarner is no stranger to intensity, challenge, and being under pressure. In her early college days, Dr. Bumgarner competed in Division I basketball for Indiana State University. It was this time as an athlete that she developed tenacity to prepare her for future challenges.
“The piece I learned from sports,” said Dr. Bumgarner, “is that when you set some goals, even if they’re not fully defined, if you know, ‘I want to help more, I want to do more, I want to contribute more,’ that can lead you in interesting ways.”
These lessons helped her as she was working on her undergraduate degree as well.
“In the educational process it was transformative to me,” said Dr. Bumgarner. “As a young poor kid, to realize that this undergraduate degree was going to completely change my life, and it did.”
Dr. Chrissy Holliday – Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success
The honor of being Cal Poly Humboldt’s newest Vice President goes to Dr. Chrissy Holliday. Although she began her term in the position in January this year, this is her first fall on the Humboldt campus. In her role as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, she is leading the team behind admissions, and continuing to support students that choose Humboldt as their campus to study.
“[We] make sure that our current students have the best experience they possibly can,” said Dr. Holliday, “and they successfully get to graduate and have their careers after that.”
Currently, Dr. Holliday is focusing on the growth of the new Cal Poly, and ensuring the infrastructure is available to sustain that growth. By renovating housing and dining, she aims to improve students’ overall academic experience. Overall, Dr. Holliday wants students to feel at home on the Humboldt campus, similar to how she felt at home in the community when she arrived at Humboldt.
“[Humboldt] feels like home,” said Dr. Holliday. “I want our students to have that same feeling. A lot of what we’re doing is looking at everything from recruitment all the way through graduation and asking, ‘how can we make this a better experience for our students?’”
Dr. Holliday is originally from North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. For most of her education career, she has been steadily moving westward, working at South Carolina and then Colorado. The opportunity for challenge and growth at Humboldt pushed her to come to Arcata.
“[Cal Poly] Humboldt is poised for growth and greatness in a very different way than most higher-ed institutions right now,” said Dr. Holliday. “It really is the opportunity to be part of something different to help strategize how we serve all students in California.”
Besides professional reasons, Dr. Holliday also had personal reasons to take up a position at California’s newest Cal Poly.
“This place spoke to me a lot,” Dr. Holliday said. “I came here, smelled the ocean…growing up in the South, I had spent a lot of time on the coast. I told my husband that [Humboldt] smells like home.”
Outside of Dr. Holliday’s professional life, Dr. Holliday has a love for the horror genre. Her passion began with books through authors such as Christopher Pike and Stephen King. Her husband later helped to develop a fondness for horror films. One of Dr. Holliday’s favorite horror villains is Damien Thorne of The Omen.
In addition, Dr. Holliday is also an avid fan of music and concerts. One of her favorite experiences with live shows was seeing Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at the same music festival. Dr. Holliday’s personal favorite show to date was Five Finger Death Punch. Even today, Dr. Holliday tries to make time for music.
“I’m going to one of my bucket list shows later this fall,” said Dr. Holliday. “I’m going to go see Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper!”