HSU Campus by the names

What’s in a name?
Contrary to the opinion of Shakespeare’s Juliet, names can certainly hold significance. There’s evidence of that in the buildings, rooms, houses and halls throughout the Humboldt State University campus. Prominent and often colorful individuals who helped shape the university over the last century are reflected in campus building names. History, honor and reverence are all represented (as is a certain lack of consistency in the naming decision process).

1 Balabanis Creative Arts Center and House 55

Homer Balabanis, faculty, dean, provost, 1923-63
Homer Balbanis

Sometimes referred to as “Mr. Humboldt,” Homer Balabanis’ association with Humboldt State spanned 68 years, from his arrival in 1923 until his death in 1991. His first duties included teaching French, sociology and economics, and he later served as Dean, Vice President, and as the university’s first academic Provost.

Balabanis maintained close relationships with most of the students, often drawing upon his good nature and wit to deliver a lesson. One story relates his response to a student’s own efforts at humor when taking a test just prior to Christmas vacation. After reading through the test and struggling for answers, the student wrote at the bottom: “Only God knows the answers to these questions. Merry Christmas!” When he received his graded exam after returning from the holiday break, he found Balabanis’ message at the bottom. “God gets an A. You get an F. Happy New Year!”

House 55, occupied by the Balabanis family during his tenure at HSU, is currently home to Humboldt State’s MultiCultural Center. The Balabanis Art Quad also honors his memory.

2 Charles Fulkerson Recital Hall

Charles Fulkerson, music professor, 1941-77
Charles Fulkerson

During a tenure spanning 36 years, Charles Fulkerson is perhaps best remembered for his expansion of the Humboldt Symphony, beginning in 1945. The orchestra numbered 60 musicians during the 1950s, and included a strong community contingent.

Fulkerson was a member of the Humboldt State College 1939 graduating class. Known as “Charlie F.” by students, he was joined on the faculty by his wife, Jean, during the war years, a time when several instructors were serving in the military.

3 Goodwin Forum

Edward Goodwin, HSC Advisory board member, 1950-74, chair 1968-73
Edward Goodwin

Named in 1974 for longtime alumni activist Edward Goodwin, the Nelson Hall meeting room was dedicated in his honor in 1980. Along with his service on the college’s advisory board, Goodwin also spent time as president of the Alumni Association.

4 Gist Hall

Arthur S. Gist, president, 1930-49
Arthur Gist

Friendly and accessible, Arthur S. Gist made a point of trying to know every student on campus. He joined them for lunch in the Nelson Hall cafeteria daily, and often began college assemblies with the line, “I feel like a mummy—pressed for time.”

Consistent with his good nature, Gist embodied a passion for teacher training and dedication to community relations. During his tenure, the university’s third leader helped found both the Northern California Guidance Association, comprising public school administrators and counselors, and the Community Concert Association, sponsor of musical performances in Eureka, and other North Coast communities.

Built in 1933, the building bearing his name currently houses the student-run Lumberjack newspaper, KRFH radio station, performance theaters and a dance studio. In the 1930s, a metal playground slide offered an unusual alternative to the stairs on the south side of Gist Hall, originally built as the College Elementary School. President Gist suffered a heart attack in November 1949, and retired the following June.

5 Harry Griffith Hall

Harry Griffith, education professor, 1939-66
Harry Griffith

Returning to a hero’s welcome following a three-year stint of military service during World War II, Harry Griffith quickly made the transition from U.S. Army captain back to Education Professor in 1946. Griffith established himself as a knowledgeable and likeable instructor after arriving on campus in 1939. He assumed responsibility for teacher training and credentialing, taking over as dean of education in 1945 while stationed in Kansas.

“Griff” also coached the HSC basketball team to a 28-23 record during three pre-war seasons, and filled in as baseball coach for a single game in 1941, posting a 1-0 record.

Harry Griffith Hall was completed in 1963 and is home to the Education program and Child Development departments. Also located in the building is Environmental Resources Engineering, one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.

After being honored with the distinguished Outstanding Professor award in 1964-65, Griffith was again lauded in 1972 when the building was dedicated in his name.

6 Forbes Gym

Joseph Forbes, professor and coach, 1946-72
Joseph Forbes

Joseph Forbes headed north from Los Angeles during the 1945 holiday break, intending to take his family on a visit to Humboldt State College, a school “just north” of San Francisco that had recruited him as potential faculty. His destination’s actual location wasn’t the only surprise in store for the future professor, coach and administrator. “A tour of the campus (it took 10 minutes in those days) revealed that the stadium was only partially completed, with no bleachers and no sign of turf,” Forbes recalled, in his History of Athletics: Humboldt State College. “The track was a mass of sub-surfacing boulders, and the only structure for physical education was a leaky little gym.”

Despite Forbes’ first impression, then-interim President Homer Balabanis managed to convince him to take the head football coach position. He served as coach, professor and administrator until retiring in 1972.

Forbes Gym, previously home of the Lumberjack basketball and volleyball teams, is now serves as a training facility for HSU athletics and hosts various classes.

7 Karshner Lounge

Don Karshner, dean of students, 1936-71
Don Karshner

As an advocate of the student’s overall development, Don Karshner worked to add enjoyment and unique experiences to the campus. He, Kate Buchanan and Art Dalianes created the concept for a student activity center on campus.

Karshner created and taught classes in radio, leading to the development of the KHSC radio station. When its successor, KHSU, launched in 1982, Karshner’s wife, Gayle, threw the switch that sent the signal across the airwaves.

As is the common case for deans of students, Karshner occasionally found himself confronted with a difficult student situation. One example came during homecoming activities when a community member and alumnus called, complaining that students had stolen his privy. Upon investigation, Karshner found the outhouse stacked upon the top of what was poised to become the annual celebratory bonfire.

8 Kate Buchanan Room

Kate Buchanan, assistant English professor, associate dean of students, 1946-68
Kate Buchanan

Always the forward-thinker, Kate Buchanan was influential in campaigns that led to the creation of a university center, an organization that supported older, single women returning to college, and the overturning of a rule banning women from wearing slacks on campus.

9 Nelson Hall

Hans Nelson, California State Assemblyman and Senator, 1912-1931

Overcoming an unenthusiastic governor and an unsupportive board of education, state legislator Hans Nelson championed the establishment of Humboldt State Normal School and defended it when its short existence was threatened.

Nelson, a resident of Eureka, observed the shortage of teachers in remote Humboldt County, and in his role as a state assemblyman acted to address his constituents’ need. In December 1912, he introduced Bill 313 in front of the California Legislature. On June 12, 1913, the bill passed, establishing Humboldt State Normal School.

Amidst the tough economic times of the early 1920s, the legislature reconsidered its decision to further subsidize the school, which had been called a “mistake” by the state board of education. Stoic in his support, now-Sen. Nelson encouraged the funding of the college’s first permanent building, Founders Hall. He had to wait three years to see the construction realized.

In 1939, the California Legislature approved the construction of a men’s and women’s dormitory.

Nelson’s efforts would come full circle when, in 1979, the building was officially named Nelson Hall East & West. The building now houses offices for Student Affairs and Humboldt Alumni.

10 Reese Bullen Gallery

Reese Bullen, art instructor, 1946-66
Reese Bullen

During his 20-year tenure, Art Instructor Reese Bullen developed and taught classes ranging from pottery to calligraphy, and nearly every medium in the spectrum. Credited as one of the forces behind Humboldt State becoming a prominent arts college, Bullen brought the first major art festival to campus when he convinced Bay Area artists to display in 1947.

11 Schatz Energy Research Center

Louis Schatz, president and owner of General Plastics Manufacturing, 1941-1989
Louis Schatz

Named for the man whose estate funded its development, the Schatz Energy Research Center works to establish clean energy technologies, specializing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and hydrogen energy systems. The lab employs a mix of professionals and students enrolled in the Environmental Resources Engineering program.

Engineers from the Schatz Lab caught the nation’s attention when they developed the nation’s first street-legal hydrogen fuel cell-powered car. Currently, Schatz researchers are in the process of identifying the most efficient and cost-effective locations for electric vehicle charging stations in Humboldt County.

Louis Schatz was an advocate of hydrogen energy research and worked closely with Humboldt State in the creation of the Schatz Energy Research Center. Schatz received an honorary doctorate from HSU in May 1994 for assisting the Schatz Lab and other campus programs, and his estate created the only building on campus fully funded by a donor. Schatz passed away in 2001 at the age of 89.

12 Siemens Hall

Cornelius (Neil) Siemens, president, 1950-73
Cornelius Siemens

Standing in front of the California Legislature in 1950, newly appointed Humboldt State President Cornelius “Neil” Siemens made a bold request. The college desperately needed funding for both a field house and swimming pool, he said, imploring the body’s support for both projects.

The answer, following a round of bemused chuckling, was a resounding “No.” Legislators directed Siemens to choose the most important project for the group’s consideration. Unshaken, Siemens responded, “Would you ask a woman wearing a two-piece bathing suit which part she could do without?”

Both projects were approved.

Siemens assumed the presidency of a small college with 57 faculty and 650 students operating on a half-million dollar budget. The campus had just five permanent buildings. Twenty-three years later he retired from a university with a faculty of 500, more than 7,000 students, an operating budget of almost $16 million and a campus featuring 70 buildings, 30 of which were permanent.

Prior to arriving at Humboldt State, Siemens taught mathematics at San Diego State and served as President of Compton College. He earned his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley.