Spring 2010

From the President

President Richmond
My family valued education, but had little experience with higher education in this country. When the time came for me to go to college, we opted for the campus near our home in san Diego. What is now San Diego state University was good quality and a great bargain as well. I paid my own way, just $105 per year in 1966, which essentially meant I was on a big scholarship from the state. Today, based on increases in the consumer price index, that would be $697. For comparison, Humboldt State University students now pay more than $5,000 per year.

The faculty and staff were very good to me. my goal was to go to medical school, so in my first semester I took a biology course from Dr. David Jameson, who also hired me as a work-study student. Dr. Jameson noticed that I was interested in the evolutionary genetics work he was doing with the pacific tree frog, and soon he had me doing research with him. He taught me how to col- lect and mark frogs, mate them, extract pituitary glands, analyze data on some of the early computers and write scientific papers. He invited one of the world’s eminent evolutionary geneticists to visit us, and that resulted in an invitation for me to attend graduate school at The Rockefeller University in new York City and work with Dr. Theodosius Dobzhansky.

Medical school never had a chance. My experience had helped me discover a wonderful career path that led to serving as president of Humboldt State University.

One of the reasons I enjoy being part of HSU is that it has many of the features I valued as an undergraduate. Our students often become friends with their professors and work with them on research and scholarship. Whether they wish to become artists or scientists, or explore many other career opportunities, our students find encouragement. An HSU student I mentored, who is now in graduate school studying fine arts in new York, is a great example. She was befriended by a professor in our art Department, who introduced her to photography. This led to a passion for the camera and a change in her major. Now, she is about to receive her MFA.

The remarkable idea that all Californians should have the opportunity to attend a good public university – regardless of their financial status – has been gradually abandoned over the last two decades. While attending a CsU campus is still inexpensive, relative to other public universities, it has become much more expensive than it was for me. California now spends more on prisons than on the combined budgets of the CsU and the University of California. What has happened to our priorities?

At HSU we are still providing a high quality education to our students, but it is getting much more difficult. We have few alternatives left but to ask students and their families to pay more. That strategy excludes many students who struggle to pay the current fees, and it will exclude even more students down the road.

If you agree that higher education must be a priority for California, please let your legislators know. Ask them to support higher education, and remind them of the important role higher education plays in the economic future of California.

You can find information about contacting elected of- ficials at our advocacy Center at humboldt.kintera.org, and you can learn how to become a supporter of HSU at http://www.humboldt.edu/giving.

Rollin Richmond