College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | ‘I will not leave my wingman’

This article was originally posted in the College Matters column of the Times-Standard.

Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 2:00am

The movie “Top Gun” has many memorable quotes. One that stuck with me, largely based on Maverick’s lessons learned, was to never leave his wingman. The quote, “I will not leave my wingman,” refers to the two-plane formation.

Humboldt State University has many close and valuable partnerships in the community. One of the most important, and one that I am absolutely committed to strengthening over time, is with College of the Redwoods.

We could debate whether HSU is Maverick or Iceman, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. In the movie, both were pilots, both learning to better serve this country, and both trying to become better — just like HSU and CR.

It might seem obvious that our two institutions would be close partners. CR students often become HSU students, and together, we make up nearly all of the region’s higher education sector.

However, we are doing much more than the typical two-year and four-year institutions that share a region, and the bar we have set for each other is very high. My personal goal is to set a new standard for cooperation and partnership, and to demonstrate what is possible for the rest of the state.

This strong partnership is good for our students, and it is also good for our broader community. It creates more opportunities for our local students and allows us to offer better services to them. It means a better-prepared workforce and a strong economy. It also means we can use resources more efficiently, and because a majority of our funding is from state and local taxes, everyone should appreciate that.

As a bonus, the CR-HSU partnership is also fun. In addition to being deeply committed to students, our colleagues at CR are gracious, open-minded, generous, and enjoyable to work beside. Our two leadership teams are constantly seeking opportunities to create connections between people and programs on our campuses.

We’ll celebrate and work to expand the relationship this week, with another CR/HSU virtual summit of leaders from both campuses. We are expecting more than 50 campus leaders to participate.

Our highly successful summit in late 2019 led to a formal agreement to collaborate on academic programs, admissions, intercollegiate athletics, university housing, and campus safety, and to discuss additional partnership opportunities.

The goals were broad but led to some very specific successes. For example:

  • HSU has welcomed the first cohort of the RN to BSN nursing program, which CR was instrumental in helping to create.
  • CR has launched three new degree pathways to prepare students in social justice, environmental science, and social work and human services to transfer to HSU or other four-year universities.
  • Both campuses have worked together on advising, as well as marketing to recruit local and international students.
  • HSU’s Project Rebound and the CR Pelican Bay program teamed up to support students throughout the formerly incarcerated community.
  • Work has begun on an HSU+ Transfer model that will focus on helping students get ready to transfer much earlier.
  • Pharmacy services are being coordinated for students at both institutions, and CR students and employees are now able to check out books and access other resources at the HSU library.
  • HSU’s Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion Center and CR’s Multicultural Center are developing a mentorship agreement for transfer students.
  • Prior to the pandemic, HSU hosted CR students at basketball games and other events.

This week some topics to be discussed include transfer pathways, student services, joint admissions, mental health resources, health services, basic needs, support for Native students, tribal partnerships, co-sponsoring events, athletics and the possibility of CR-HSU competition(s), facility and business process sharing, joint training and professional development, faculty collaboration, academic programs, and career advising.

This will be an amazing gathering in which many innovative and workable projects will be identified. At the end of “Top Gun” training, both Maverick and Iceman graduated.

Be well.

Dr. Tom Jackson Jr. is the president of Humboldt State University.