Spring 2015

From the President

AT THE END of the first week of Spring semester, I was contacted by Courtney Haraldson, who at the time was managing Humboldt State’s Facebook page. She informed me that the page had “blown up” with comments and sharing, and I had to take a look.

She was right. Surprisingly, all the action wasn’t related to another gorgeous outdoor photo that alumni so enjoy on our social media. The excitement was about the HSU community sharing stories of the inspiring and lasting connections they had made at the University. It had started with a simple HSU post asking about “one special relationship, experience or adventure.”

Alumni commented about friendships that started on campus. They remarked on marriages related to HSU, sometimes with specifics like the actual classroom where they first met. Current students as well as alumni mentioned specific professors who mentored them, occasionally followed by happy comments from the professors. Parents commented about their pride in their students and how much they enjoyed visiting the area. Here are a few samples:

“So many great people and memories” … “Having the best teachers in the teaching credential program. They set the bar for what I expect from any educator” … “We also have continued friendships made at Humboldt since both of us arrived. Our HSU buddies (there are like 17 of us who stay in touch) are friends who are more like family” … “Life-long friends, and a life-long aversion to mildew” … “Met my best friend in Humboldt and influenced my sister to go” … “Best faculty in California.”

The moments were—and are—amazing! I quickly realized that, at the same time everyone was talking about specific connections, they were also creating new connections between different generations. These shared experiences help bond our far-flung University communities to each other, and they link our past and our future.

“Connections” was a key theme of my Spring Welcome remarks to faculty and staff at the beginning of this semester, and I find it a powerful characteristic of Humboldt State.

And this topic comes up often when people talk about Humboldt State. I started hearing stories of connections on my very first day on the job last summer—on campus, in the community, and beyond. I’ve also heard many stories about connections from an alumni advisory group that has been sharing ideas with me by email this year. These graduates, who are from the classes of 1956 through 2014 and live across the country, have shared positive thoughts about HSU along with ideas for improvements. They have jumped at the chance to share stories about connections that made an important difference in their lives. I am deeply grateful for their insight, advice, and stories.

A recent alum from this group told me that she wanted me to know “how I had the opportunity to become very involved on campus, how much the faculty in my department supported me (and still do), how many friends I was able to make.” Another wrote: “HSU is a home to me … because of the students, staff, faculty and community members.” And another wrote: “During my time at HSU I don’t recall ever coming across a person, teacher or student, who conveyed anything other than appreciation for being at HSU.”

One alum shared this story of a professor pushing him to try harder: “During a conversation one day he told me that I could do much better in finance if I put in more effort than I was giving it. Basically, he politely called me out on my BS which very few people ever did—and he was 100 percent correct in his assessment.”

This really is a strong and connected community here at HSU. I count myself among those who feel very fortunate to have discovered it and to have become a part of it.

On a related note, a new college ranking from a group called niche.com recently included Humboldt State as the 12th friendliest university in the country. Among public institutions, HSU ranks no. 1. I don’t know how scientific that survey was, but I believe it intuitively. I want to believe it is true, and all my evidence tells me it is.

In this magazine issue, you will find many stories that connect ideas, history, planning, and people. Thank you for your ongoing support of Humboldt State—and for staying connected. I hope to see you on campus soon!

With very best wishes,

Lisa A. Rossbacher

Lisa A. Rossbacher, Ph.D.