College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | Humboldt makes progress in becoming a polytechnic

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

Thursday, February 2, 2023 - 2:15pm

One year ago, Humboldt State University was renamed Cal Poly Humboldt. The renaming was confirmed shortly after the allocation of a historic $458 million in one-time and ongoing funding. Since that time, the campus has sought to model responsible stewardship of the transformational process and the funding.

Progress is very strong. Today, applications for attendance are at record levels. A diverse group of faculty for new programs has been hired. Twelve academic programs have been approved and are now accepting students. And the newest 964-student residence hall has been approved, with construction beginning this month. There are several additional projects following, all on time in their respective processes.

The transformation, and funding, support California. The infrastructure funding goes toward projects that support the university, but greatly involve and benefit the community and its workforce.

These achievements have resulted from the work and commitment of hundreds of individuals on campus, along with the involvement of alumni, donors, and other friends in the community.

• This type of program expansion at a university is extremely rare. By fall 2023, we will launch eight new bachelor’s degree programs, a new master’s degree program, and four new certificates. The bachelor’s degrees include applied fire science and management, cannabis studies, data science, energy systems engineering, geospatial science and technology, marine biology, mechanical engineering, and software engineering. The master’s degree is in engineering and community practice. The certificates are in cybersecurity, gerontology, information technology, and sustainability.

• Planning is in the works for many more new academic programs in 2026 and 2029 as part of the phased approach in our plan. Also, new academic programs are being developed for a 2024 or 2025 launch, including bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and health advocacy and navigation, as well as a master’s degree in STEM education.

• This program expansion has attracted incredible interest from prospective students. While it is still much too early to be sure how many students will ultimately enroll this fall, the indicators are very good. As of this week, nearly 19,000 students have applied, which is double the number from last year at this time. New programs are seeing many applications, such as more than 1,000 for mechanical engineering, while existing programs, such as art and film, are seeing increases as well. For a campus that is still under-enrolled, seeing new interest is important for campus viability and state resources, which ultimately benefit the region.

• We are making strong progress on developing campus-affiliated housing for students. As we know, affordable and high-quality housing is vital to student success. This is highlighted by the Craftsman Mall housing project, which will house 964 students and begin opening in fall 2025. In the meantime, we are undertaking several temporary steps for students, including rental of multiple hotels near campus.

• Feasibility work has been completed for our signature new engineering and technology building and housing project, and a design-build contract has been awarded. Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed by fall 2025. In addition, we are soliciting proposals for a new microgrid and climate resilience lab that could begin construction next spring to be completed by summer 2025.

• Extensive planning has been completed for renovations and enhancements to labs and other science facilities that will support growth of multiple polytechnic programs. In addition, we are seeking viable options for a wind and marine research facility in Eureka and we are exploring how to best utilize funds to enhance the RV Coral Sea and other vessels in our fleet.

The investments in Cal Poly Humboldt are yielding a transformation of the university and beginning to transform the region. Applications are on the rise, demand for new programs is very high, and stewardship for the funding is consistent with the original intentions and state policies. New industries are interested in our community. All of this confirms the wisdom of this investment in Cal Poly Humboldt as the economic and workforce development catalyst for Northern California. The collective efforts, as a nationally recognized university and regional development partner, will continue for decades to come, with our current efforts setting the foundation for growth and development in the region.

Be well.

Dr. Tom Jackson Jr. is the president of Cal Poly Humboldt.