Polytechnic Self-Study

Polytechnic Menu

Looking to the Future

The California State University has asked HSU to conduct a self-study, including an academic and a business plan, to become designated the state’s third polytechnic university. This momentous opportunity reflects on HSU’s excellence. As a polytechnic, HSU would be able to leverage its strengths and help meet important needs for the North Coast and California.

Why Humboldt and Why Now?

A polytechnic university in the northern part of the state would help California provide access to high-demand programs, while improving education and career opportunities on the North Coast. Graduates from STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and applied sciences like health and agriculture are in high demand, as are graduates with hands-on experience, an education grounded in the liberal arts, and a strong understanding of sustainability.

California and the nation are facing a huge workforce need that will only grow over the next 10 years. With the CSU’s existing Polytechnics impacted, and HSU under-enrolled, this designation would allow us to provide access to the education that students and employers alike are seeking. 

HSU is a natural choice for this opportunity. It is an acknowledgment of our strengths in sustainability and hands-on learning, our highly regarded academic programs and interdisciplinary studies, our unique location, our commitment to social justice and equity, and our relationships with local tribes. As a polytechnic, our institution would become increasingly attractive to students from California and beyond, raise our national profile, increase the amount of grants for research, and inspire additional donations from individuals.

This request comes at an opportune time. It syncs well with our strategic planning process, academic road map planning process, preparation for upcoming WSCUC accreditation visits, expansion of outreach and student recruitment efforts, our Memo of Understanding with the College of the Redwoods, planning for the University's first capital campaign, and our ongoing budget realignment and reorganization.

What is a Polytechnic and How do We Compare?

Hands-on and Career-Focused

Polytechnic Institutions: Focused on providing hands-on, experiential learning to students. There is an emphasis on ensuring students get a chance to apply what they are learning, making new graduates career-ready.

Humboldt State: Faculty at HSU are already known for this. As a polytechnic, HSU would build on this current strength, and prospective students would have a clearer understanding that this is prioritized.

Already, 25% of courses at HSU have a hands-on component—which is perhaps the highest in the CSU.

HSU is relatively small, but ranks 7th among 23 CSU campuses for total grant funding

STEM and Applied Sciences

Polytechnic Institutions: Have a high concentration of programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) as well as applied sciences like health and agriculture.

Humboldt State: HSU has numerous distinctive programs in the sciences and natural resources, including programs related to forest ecology, marine science, renewable energy, and aspects of agriculture. We also offer a wide variety of quality programs in the applied sciences, including kinesiology, social work, nursing, psychology, and anthropology, among others.

HSU has the eighth-highest rate of STEM students earning PhDs among all 660 master’s degree institutions nationwide, and is first among CSU campuses.

HSU has the third highest percentage of students in the CSU enrolled in STEM programs—just behind Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Pomona.

Strong Grounding in Liberal Arts

Polytechnic Institutions: Comprehensive 21st Century polytechnic universities incorporate creativity, critical thinking, social justice principles, social theory and philosophy, and much more.

Humboldt State: A polytechnic designation would highlight the value of HSU’s exceptional liberal arts programming, doubling down on its value to our students and community. The skills and knowledge associated with the Liberal Arts contribute to graduates better able to respond to a changing world who are more competitive in today’s workforce.

It is well-known that employers increasingly seek graduates with the knowledge and skills gained from a liberal arts education.

Reimagining Polytechnic for the 21st Century

The self-study is not about replicating what other polytechnics have done. We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to reimagine what a polytechnic looks like for the 21st century.

We can do so in a way that honors our values as a campus community, including our longstanding commitment to environmental and social responsibility. We can ensure that our technical and professional training are grounded in a broad liberal arts education. There is the possibility of infusing ethics, science in service to society, equitable practices, traditional ecological knowledge, renewable technologies, and more. We can educate environmental and social problem solvers who are not limited by past conventions or a single way of knowing.

This reimagining of a HSU as a polytechnic is occurring within the context of numerous other efforts at HSU including:

  • Strategic Plan process
  • Academic Road Map planning process
  • Preparation for upcoming WSCUC accreditation visits
  • Expansion of outreach and student recruitment efforts
  • Planning for the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign
  • Ongoing budget realignment and reorganization
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, including our HSI work

This is truly a momentous opportunity for HSU. Rising to it will serve our students, our local communities, and the world.

Grid of 3 photos

FAQ

Why is a polytechnic designation valuable?

Why is a polytechnic designation valuable?

Many students seek the learning experience and prestige associated with a polytechnic designated institution. A formal designation would bring broader recognition to HSU, enable new grant and donation opportunities, facilitate development of new programs, raise the profile of all academic programs, and attract new students from California and beyond.

What is the Self-Study?

What is the Self-Study?

The CSU Chancellor's Office has asked that HSU facilitate a formal self-study process and conduct a detailed analysis of our campus operations and activities associated with becoming a polytechnic. The self-study will occur within the context of numerous other efforts at HSU including the Strategic Plan process, the Academic Road Map planning process, preparation for upcoming WSCUC accreditation visits, expansion of outreach and student recruitment efforts, planning for the University’s first capital campaign, and ongoing budget realignment and reorganization. A small group will work on this self-study during the Spring 2021 semester.

Why Now?

Why Now?

This request comes at an opportune time and syncs well with our strategic planning process, academic road map planning process, preparation for upcoming WSCUC accreditation visits, expansion of outreach and student recruitment efforts, planning for the University's first comprehensive fundraising campaign, and our ongoing budget realignment and reorganization. It’s also an opportunity to correct declining enrollment, budget issues, and improve the value of HSU’s commitment to California and the North Coast.

Who is in the self-study group?

Who is in the self-study group?

The self-study is being jointly led by Provost Jenn Capps and Lisa Bond-Maupin, Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President. Membership of the study group is still being determined.

How long will the self-study take?

How long will the self-study take?

HSU expects the self-study to be completed by the end of the Spring 2021 semester. It has not been determined when the self-study would be presented to the California State University.

What is the timeline after the self-study is done?

What is the timeline after the self-study is done?

This is still being determined, and will depend in many ways on the self-study itself. Once HSU has submitted the self-study, the CSU would set its own timeline for responding. Much more work needs done to determine the likely timeline of any steps beyond the self-study.

Will this involve a new name for the University?

Will this involve a new name for the University?

It could, but that has not been determined at this time.

Will programs be cut because of this?

Will programs be cut because of this?

No academic programs will be reduced or eliminated due to HSU becoming a polytechnic. The polytechnic designation would provide increased opportunity to add programs to match student interests. However, as always, specific academic programs may be affected by other factors such as reduced demand. 

Will there be costs involved in becoming a polytechnic?

Will there be costs involved in becoming a polytechnic?

There will be costs as we add programs, modify existing programs, expand support, improve technology, and more. We cannot expect CSU to cover these costs. We must be creative with managing our current budget, and seeking additional grants, donations, and other external resources.