Fall 2014

From the President

Lisa A. Rossbacher

I COULD NOT HAVE IMAGINED, in June 1985, how Humboldt State University would become such an important part of my future.

My husband and I first visited Humboldt that summer, on a geology field trip to study active geological processes in Redwood Country, and we fell in love with this area. We were living in Southern California at the time, and Dallas and I imagined finding a way to live in this part of the state. Our careers as geologists and educators took us other places—including, most recently, Georgia—but we always remembered the people and landscape of Humboldt County.

When I first heard that Humboldt State would be looking for a new president, I knew I had to look into it, and it didn’t take long to decide it was a good fit. Well, maybe a great fit.

Now, having been here since mid-July, I recognize what a very special opportunity this is. We have something unique here at Humboldt State University. World-class programs with a personal touch. A wonderful campus in a great community. People who value social justice, individual responsibility, and the natural environment. And a deep connection with the landscape, the history, the geology, and the culture.

I knew, from those past visits to the area and more recent research, what a remarkable place HSU is. Even so, I have encountered many surprises as I explore the campus and meet people. For example, did you know we have Moon Trees on campus? They have grown from seeds that orbited the moon on Apollo 14 in 1971.

The campus has a foundry, where students and faculty members cast thousands of pounds of aluminum and bronze every year. We also have a hydrogen fueling station designed by students. Students and a professor are currently measuring gravity at distances of just a few microns (a human hair is 70-75 microns in diameter). Humboldt State has the world’s top experts in redwood forests. We have one of the leading scholars of tropical mushrooms. And of skunk odor.

Despite our remoteness, we convince some really amazing performers to come to campus. This upcoming year, CenterArts is presenting Colbie Caillat, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Wailin’ Jennys, and many others.

Humboldt State also serves a remarkably diverse population for such a rural campus. About one-third of our students are from traditionally underrepresented groups—and just last year we were officially designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Humboldt is consistently rated a Military Friendly School, and we have recently been rated LGBT friendly and vegan friendly. It’s great to make the “welcoming and friendly” rankings, as well as the many “best of” rankings.

For all the new discoveries I have made, many things haven’t surprised me at all. The most important is the incredible passion and caring spirit I’ve found on campus. The faculty and staff I talk with are energized by the work they’re doing to make sure students get a great education and have a memorable experience at HSU.

I see my job as making sure that we build on Humboldt’s strong foundation. We need to focus on improving and on figuring out how we can be the best university to serve our students. Fortunately, we have more than 8,000 students, and every one of them serves as a reminder of Humboldt State’s important mission.

During the 2014-15 academic year, I’ll be focused on getting to know more about Humboldt State—meeting with faculty, staff, and students, visiting with alumni and parents, and strengthening relationships with the larger community. If you have ideas or insights you would like to share, please send me an e-mail message at . And I’ve been sharing my thoughts and observations on social media; if you’re interested, you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter through @hsupres.

Thanks, as always, for your ongoing support of Humboldt State. Many of you have known for a long time how this university was part of your future. I had a clue, on that first trip to Humboldt County, and I am thrilled that HSU is part of my present now. I hope to see you on campus soon!

With very best wishes,

Lisa A. Rossbacher, Ph.D.