Spring09

From the President

President Richmond

When I became President of Humboldt State University, one of the things I worried about was losing contact with students. Presidents are generally expected to spend time with alumni and donors, other administrators, faculty and community members.

So when a colleague in our Educational Opportunity Program called me a few months after I arrived to ask if I would be willing to mentor students, I readily agreed. There are few things more rewarding to an educator than to watch as students learn and succeed.

I enjoyed the experience and have continued mentoring students each year. Two in particular stand out in my mind.

Krystyl improbably came to Humboldt from urban Southern California. She is an African American who struggled to fit into the different environment here. Money was always a problem for Krystyl and I remember trying to convince her to get a loan so that she could concentrate on her studies instead of working 30 hours a week. I wasn’t successful with that argument, but she did okay anyway. I also remember scrambling to find her a few hundred dollars to buy books one semester.

I’ve watched a lot of students graduate, but I was especially proud to shake Krystyl’s hand as she received her degree. She is now working to help others find jobs and is considering returning to school for a graduate degree. Her years at Humboldt have made a real difference in her life.

Diana comes from a supportive family and wanted to be a biologist, so it was suggested she work with me. She did well in the science courses, but the fire was never there. One semester she told me that she was going to take a course in photography to satisfy a general education requirement. As a sometime photographer myself, I encouraged her. It was wonderful to watch her develop a real passion and her own style. She studied under the direction of one of our best Art professors, who recognized her talent and got her to start teaching. Her life changed course completely.

When I suggested one day that we might want to find another mentor who knew more about photography than I did, she absolutely refused. “You are my friend now, and I want to stay with you,” she said. Well, I recently received an email from Diana, who is now going to graduate school at a prestigious university in New York. She told me that she had gotten all A’s in her first semester.

Similar stories could be told endlessly by our faculty at Humboldt State. The great student experience here and the success of our graduates stems from a close association with faculty and their work. I am so proud to be President at a university that truly mentors its students and to be a colleague of faculty who truly care about student success. I hope you, too, are proud to be a part of this remarkable university community.

Sincerely,

Rollin Richmond