Humboldt State University

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Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University seal.svg
Former names
Humboldt State Normal College (1913–35)
Humboldt State College (1935–72)
California State University, Humboldt (1972–74)
MottoΦΩΣ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ (Greek)
Motto in English
Light Truth
EstablishedJune 16, 1913
Endowment$30.3 million (2019)[1]
Budget$220.8 million (2018)[2]
PresidentTom Jackson, Jr.
ProvostAlexander Enyedi
Academic staff
Students6,983 (Fall 2019)[4]
Undergraduates6,443 (Fall 2019)[4]
Postgraduates540 (Fall 2019)[4]
Location, ,
United States
CampusRural, 144 acres (58 ha) main campus and nearly 591 acres (239 ha) of additional property[5] Total: 733 acres
ColorsGreen and gold[6]
AthleticsNCAA Division IICalifornia Collegiate Athletic
AffiliationsCalifornia State University
MascotLucky Logger[7]
Humboldt State University wordmark.svg

Humboldt State University (HSU, Humboldt State,[8] or Humboldt) is a public university in Arcata, California. It is the northernmost campus of the 23-school California State University (CSU) system. The main campus, situated hillside at the edge of a coast redwood forest, has commanding views overlooking Arcata, much of Humboldt Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. The college town setting on the California North Coast, 8 miles (13 km) north of Eureka, 279 miles (449 km) north of San Francisco, and 654 miles (1052.51 km) north of Los Angeles is notable for its natural beauty.

The university is divided into three colleges: the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the College of Natural Resources and Sciences; and the College of Professional Studies.[9] It offers 48 types of bachelor's degrees, 12 different master's degrees, 61 minors, and 13 credential programs.[3] HSU does not offer doctoral degrees.

In addition to the main campus, HSU has multiple off-campus facilities and education-related properties, including an ocean-side marine biology research center,[10] a wildlife care facility,[11] a public natural history museum,[12] a public art gallery,[13] a bay-side aquatics facility,[14] a mountain-top astronomy observatory,[15] an ocean-going marine research and teaching vessel (Coral Sea),[16] and a demonstration forest (Arcata Community Forest).[17]


Founders Hall

Humboldt State Normal School was established as a teacher's college on June 16, 1913, by then-California Governor, Hiram Johnson.[18] It was named after the famous German scientist Alexander von Humboldt. The cities of Arcata and Eureka (and to a lesser extent Fortuna[19]) competed with one another to host the new campus. Arcata eventually won the university when William Preston, and the Union Water company, donated 55-acres.[18] It opened on April 6, 1914 in the former Arcata Grammar School building with 78 students and 5 faculty. On May 26, 1915 the first commencement of the first graduating class occurred, a class of 15 women.[20] The first graduate awarded their degree in 1915 was local historian Susie Baker Fountain, who went on to catalog much of Humboldt County history from 1850-1966. Baker was a columnist for the Blue Lake Advocate and her extraordinary, lifelong collection of newspaper clippings and images are available for viewing in HSU Special Collections. [21]

View from high point of Humboldt State Normal campus, 1915

The school was put under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education, renamed Humboldt State Teacher's College and Junior College, and moved to its current location in 1921. In 1924, during the presidency of Ralph Waldo Swetman, the Associated Students and the Alumni Association were organized and The Foghorn, the first student newspaper, was published. Bachelor's degrees began being offered in 1927. The school was renamed Humboldt State College in 1935 and the next year the Lumberjack was adopted as its mascot. In 1937, the students opened a cooperative bookstore and soda fountain, which would exist for the next 40 years as the center of student life.

During World War II, Arcata's city defense council suggested camouflaging Founder's Hall, which is visible from the Pacific Ocean, so it would not be a target for Japanese submarines. The council made its request in 1942, but Founder's Hall was not painted until the spring of 1944. The building remained camouflage green until 1948.[22] During WWII, President Arthur Gist corresponded back and forth with the hundreds of students who left Humboldt State College to serve in the war. Available for viewing in the Arthur Gist Letters at HSU Special Collections, there are over 1,000 letters from 365 servicemen and women writing to Gist for the duration of the war.[23]

Graduate programs began being offered in 1947. Under President Siemens in 1952, HSU continued expanding by accepting students from abroad, including some from Yugoslavia, Germany, the Near East as well as US territories such as Samoa, Guam and Hawaii. KHSC, later KHSU, the first state college radio station in California, was established. In 1960, the college joined the newly formed California State College system. The junior college program, terminated at HSU in 1962, was re-established in 1964 at College of the Redwoods (CR) located at the southern edge of Eureka. CR is located only seventeen miles south of HSU, and the two institutions maintain a close working relationship, with many students transferring to HSU following graduation from CR.

Campus Construction - Looking South, 1958 or 59

Student activism on campus rose through the 1960s and early 1970s, peaking in a protest against the Vietnam War with about 800 students (out of 3,600) participating in demonstrations on October 15, 1969. This was followed by another protest with nearly 3,000 students who planned a strike after the Cambodian Incursion. With similar events across the state, Governor Reagan shut down the CSC system in May 1970 for 5 days. The 1970s also saw the rise of feminist, cultural, and LGBT groups, and though the Women's Center would be the only one to survive through the 1980s, most groups would reappear by the mid-1990s.[22] The campus currently hosts a United Students Against Sweatshops group that is active in lobbying for ethical products and services on campus.

David Philips (HSU alum) established the Humboldt Film Festival in 1967. It is now one of the oldest student-run festival in the world.[22] In 1996 the annual Explorations in Afro-Cuban Dance and Drum workshop began being held on the campus every July. The workshop is the largest assemblage of Afro-Cuban folkloric masters in the United States, drawing students from across the country and around the world.

In 1972, the college was renamed California State University, Humboldt. However, it still continued to be popularly called "Humboldt State." Reflecting this, its name was simplified to Humboldt State University in 1974.[18] Enrollment first reached 7,500 in 1974, and though it has increased to near 8,000 in years since, the university remains one of the smallest in the CSU system. Through the 1980s, mature students became a large part of Humboldt State's student body, and in 1986 40% of the students were over the age of 25.[24] The number has since decreased to 30%.[25]

In 1987 students and activists founded the optional Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. The purpose of the Pledge is to encourage graduating students to be mindful of the social and environmental impacts of their employment as they enter the workforce or continue their education. Today over one hundred Universities and colleges worldwide use the Pledge to some extent.[26]

List of HSU Presidents:

  1. Nelson Blieau Van Matré (1914–1924)
  2. Ralph Waldo Swetman (1924–1930)
  3. Arthur Gist (1930–1950)
  4. Cornelius Siemens (1950–1974)
  5. Alistair McCrone (1974–2002)
  6. Rollin C. Richmond (2002–2014)
  7. Lisa Rossbacher (2014–2019)
  8. Tom Jackson Jr.[27] (Fall 2019-)


Fall Freshman Statistics[28][29][30][31]
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Applicants 11,912 11,261 9,976 9,417 9,207 9,418
Admits 9,119 8,514 8,050 8,768 7,278 7,135
% Admitted 76.55 76.06 80.69 93.10 79.04 75.75
Avg GPA 3.20 3.21 3.15 3.13 3.16 3.16

The university is divided into three colleges: the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the College of Natural Resources and Sciences; and the College of Professional Studies. There are 48 undergraduate majors and 69 minors.[32] The two largest majors are Biology and Art, both with over 20 faculty members and extensive facilities on- and off-campus. This CSU campus offers a Wildlife undergraduate degree. There are several credential programs and twelve Master's programs, of which Natural Resources and Social Work are the largest. The new Energy, Environment, and Society graduate program is unique to the CSU, and provides graduates with interdisciplinary training in engineering, economics, and climate policy.

The University Library supports students and faculty from all three academic colleges. Beginning in 2015, the Library launched HSU Press to showcase research and scholarship across the campus.[33] It also houses the Humboldt State University Press, which publishes theses, textbooks and trade books of interest to Humboldt State and the surrounding area. On campus, a popular major is Forestry. The Forestry department building's walls are completely paneled with different species of wood. The building was rebuilt in October 1980 after the original building was burned down. The original building only stood for 17 years before an arsonist, whose identity is still unknown today, set the building on fire in 1979.[34]

Humboldt State is one of only two universities in California to offer a major in botany, the other is California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Its botany program is the nation's largest undergraduate program. Humboldt State is the only university in California to offer a degree in rangeland resources and wildland soil science.[35] The Native American Studies major and the Oceanography major are also unique to the California State University system. The university offers unique minors including multicultural queer studies, scientific diving, and appropriate technology.[32]

The university's location on the North Coast provides access to the Pacific Ocean, lagoons, marshes, estuaries, and the Fred Telonicher Marine Laboratory, which provides opportunities for "hands-on" experiences and research for the sciences. The Marine Lab was opened in 1966, the lab is open during the academic school year (mid August-mid May).[34]

Humboldt State University's fire science program teaches modern techniques for managing wildfire, and an advanced training program is offered for Forest Service employees and similar professionals.[36]

As of 2012, Humboldt State University has an International student population that has quadrupled in the last five years. The International English Language Institute has worked alongside HSU for 22 years to help international students gain academic English language skills to further their academic pursuits and business careers.

The College of eLearning, & Extended Ed (CEEE) is a self-supporting outreach department of Humboldt State University that provides a variety of academic, professional development and personal enrichment opportunities. While the CEEE programs are open to almost everyone, there is an emphasis on providing access to those community members who are not matriculated students at the university. Non-matriculated students may take some regular university courses through the CEEE Open University program. High school students may take regular HSU courses through the CEEE High School Concurrent Enrollment Program. Also, those aged 60 and over may take regular HSU classes through the Over 60 Program. There are also a variety of online degree programs offered through the college. The CEEE also offers a wide range of diverse and eclectic programs. Examples include music and art programs for children, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for those aged 50 and over, foreign language classes, travel-study programs, continuing education for teachers, MFT/LCSW, nurses, and law enforcement.

In 1998 Humboldt State University opened the HSU First Street Gallery in Old Town Eureka, expanding community access to the university's cultural and fine arts programs. In 2007, the university further expanded its presence in Eureka with the opening of the HSU Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, a $4.5 million aquatic facility on the bay in Old Town Eureka. Future plans include a new HSU Bay and Estuarine Studies Center. This new facility will be closer to the Coral Sea (in 2012 docked at Woodley Island, Eureka), the only vessel in a U.S. educational institution solely dedicated to undergraduate research. The new facility would be considerably larger than the other existing facility, the Fred Telonicher Marine Laboratory in Trinidad, 20 miles (32 km) north.[37]

Humboldt State University Professor Steve Sillett has conducted groundbreaking research on redwood forest canopies and was featured in a 2009 cover story in National Geographic. He holds the Kenneth L. Fisher Chair in Redwood Forest Ecology, the only endowed chair in the world dedicated to a single tree species.[36]


Fall 2018 Demographics of student body[38]
* All levels, freshman through graduate
African American 3.5%
Asian American 2.3%
Filipino American 0.5%
Pacific Islander 0.3%
White European Americans 43.2%
Native American/American Indian 1.2%
Mexican American/Chicano 26.0%
Other Latino American 8.1%
Multiracial Americans 6.5%
Non-resident alien 1.5%
Unknown 6.8%
  • Average High School GPA: 3.2 (Fall 2015 Freshmen)[39]
  • SAT Middle 50%: 440–560 Reading, 430–550 Math (Fall 2013 Freshmen)[39]
  • ACT Composite Middle 50%: 18–24 (Fall 2013 Freshmen)[39]
  • Average Undergraduate Class Size: 25[25]
  • Average Graduate Class Size: 8[25]
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 21.1[3]

Student demographics[edit]

As of fall 2018 Humboldt State has the largest enrollment percentage of Native Americans and the third largest enrollment percentage of Multiracial individuals in the Cal State system.[38]

  • Number of enrolled students: 7,774
  • Gender:[3]
    • 57.0% Female
    • 43.0% Male
  • Average Age 22[3]


University rankings
Forbes[40] 623
Times/WSJ[41] 501-600
U.S. News & World Report[42] 37
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[43] 59
  • Best Western Colleges: Chosen because it stands out in its region by being the only university in the extended geographic region, HSU is one of the 123 colleges named a Best Western College by The Princeton Review. Other CSU campuses chosen for the list were Cal State Long Beach, Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Sonoma State.[44]
  • Colleges With a Conscience: HSU is one of the colleges profiled in The Princeton Review's book, Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement. The school was selected because of its record of having excellent service-learning programs and its blending of academics with community work.[44]
  • Universities-Master's (West): Top Schools U.S. News & World Report ranked HSU tied for 37th in the Regional Universities (West) category for 2020, and in the same category also ranked it tied for 14th best public school, tied at 21st best for veterans, tied for 41st best for social mobility, and 43rd for best value .[45]

Student life[edit]

Primary HSU campus entrance on LK Wood Blvd (south side, adjacent to Highway101)

The Humboldt Energy Independence Fund (HEIF) is unique to the CSU, and uses student fee money to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. HEIF provides a rare opportunity for students, faculty, and plant operations staff to work together collaboratively towards a goal of a lower-carbon and energy-independent future. Compost and recycling bins are more common on campus than trash cans and many events are encouraged to be zero waste, all coordinated through the student-run Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program (WRRAP).[46] The Associated Students fund WRRAP, the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, and the Sustainable Living Arts and Music Festival (SLAM fest).

Humboldt State University built the first building in the CSU system to be LEED-gold certified for its eco-friendly features. The Behavioral and Social Sciences Building has rainwater collection, sustainably harvested wood native-plant landscaping, and more.[36]

The location of HSU affords students the potential for outside activities in local parks and public lands, which include miles of accessible, undeveloped coastline. Rivers and streams, forests, and extraordinary terrain are just outside the classroom door.

There are over 200 clubs on campus that students can join. Clubs on campus include a variety of options that range from social interests, academic, Greek life and sports.[47]

Student media[edit]

The university has multiple publications. The Lumberjack is the university's only student-run weekly newspaper.[48]

The university also has a monthly student-run newspaper, El Leñador, which is bilingual and produced by students with minority backgrounds. It is a newspaper committed to promoting diversity in local media. El Leñador was named top non-weekly newspaper in the state. El Leñador received first place in competing against other monthly and bi-weekly papers from four- and two-year colleges and universities across California.[49]

Osprey is the university's student-run magazine, published twice annually. It has won first-place awards in major regional competitions, including the Society of Professional Journalists' "Mark of Excellence" Awards and the California Intercollegiate Press Association awards.[50]

Greek life[edit]



The Lumberjacks' program is affiliated with the NCAA on the Division II level and is a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Humboldt State currently sponsors 12 intercollegiate sports programs — men's and women's soccer, basketball, cross country, track & field, women's volleyball, softball, rowing, and formerly, football (in which it competed in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference).

In addition to NCAA sanctioned athletics, Humboldt State also supports club sports including, Archery, Baseball, Cheer, Climbing, Cycling, Disc Golf, Fencing, Logging Sports, Men's and Women's Lacrosse, Men's and Women's Rugby, Men's and Women's Ultimate Frisbee, Men's Crew, and Men's Volleyball.

HSU's softball team has qualified for the NCAA post-season 18 times between 1990 and 2008, capturing the NCAA Division II Softball Championship in 1999 and in 2008.

  • Women's (2)
    • Softball (2): 1990, 2008

On-campus housing[edit]

On-Campus Housing consists of 6 living areas; The Hill, Cypress, Canyon, Creekview, College Creek and Campus Apartments. The north side of campus is consistent of The Hill, Cypress, The Canyon, and Creekview, which are considered primarily for first year traditional residents. The southside of campus, College Creek and Campus Apartments are placed for second year students, and non-traditional residents. College Creek consists of four three-level housing complexes separate. Each living area are monitored by Community Advocates, who are students which are employed by HSU housing and receive free housing if hired.[51]

Klamath Connection Program[edit]

The Klamath River is the focus of the Klamath Connection, which is designed to help freshmen learn important skills for future science careers.[52]

Y.E.S. House[edit]

The Y.E.S. House (Youth Educational Services) is programs created by students and led by students volunteer programs. The Y.E.S. House serves the communities needs. There are currently running 17 programs.[53] Students can volunteer for these programs and also have the ability to become directors as well.

Centers and Institutes[edit]

Centers & Institutes affiliate with an association of individuals, faculty, staff and others, who may wish to encourage or pursue activities, including research and creative activities, that are consistent with the mission of the University. The following policy and procedures provide for the recognition and chartering of such Centers/Institutes.

  • The California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University is a research center to assist policy development. community building community, and promoting the health of rural people and their environments.[54]
  • The mission of the Humboldt Science and Mathematics Center is to enhance science and mathematics education. It was chartered in 2005, and offers programs and professional support for teachers and for students preparing for the professionals. The Center is formally affiliated with a number of University programs.[55]
  • The Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR) seeks to improve the economic, social, physical, and environmental health of individuals and communities through the interdisciplinary scientific study of marijuana. HIIMR designs, conducts, analyzes, and disseminates research; provides applied expertise to policy makers, researchers, health professionals, businesses, and the media; and archives and provides access to source materials (raw data, media).[56][57][58]
  • Affiliated with the Department of Geography and its Kosmos Lab for teaching cartography, the Institute for Cartographic Design provides cartography students with an opportunity to engage in applied map design before graduation, provides a centralized cartographic design service on campus, in all formats from paper to web to animation.[59]
  • The Institute of Health and Human Performance supports the local community in activities for health promotion. It supports research and training for faculty and students in health, human performance, disease prevention, physical activity and nutrition.[60]
  • The Institute for Entrepreneurship Education is designed to reach other academic departments on campus as well as the Redwood Coast business community. It is oriented around interdisciplinary study, with a focus on social entrepreneurship and an ethic of social responsibility.[61]
  • The Humboldt State University Institute for Spatial analysis (ISA) is devoted to the expansion of spatial analysis methodologies in multiple disciplines and the real world issues. It works with both public and private sector entities.[62]
  • The Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) works to establish clean energy technology. It specializes in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and hydrogen energy systems, especially increasing the efficiency of fuel cells. Its work involves research and development, technology demonstration, project development, energy systems analysis, and education and training.[63]

Notable people[edit]



See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°52′33″N 124°04′43″W / 40.875781°N 124.078560°W / 40.875781; -124.078560