College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | Lumberjacks boldly rising in support of students

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

Friday, June 21, 2024 - 3:22am

Over the past four years, alumni and others who care about Cal Poly Humboldt did something extraordinary. Many found ways to support our students and our programs at a level that we’ve never seen before, and there’s truly no way to fully express our true appreciation.

Specifically, these thousands of supporters helped Humboldt’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign surpass its $50 million goal, and they did it more than a year earlier than planned.

In higher education today it is very common for universities to consistently seek charitable giving in support of students, athletics, or specific programs. This is to do everything possible to provide a positive, meaningful, educational experience. A positive campus experience often means the graduate will become a thriving and engaged alumnus who wants to “give back” to others on campus.

While Cal Poly Humboldt has been here since 1913, and it has received notable support from community members and alumni, the university did not have this strong culture of giving — until now. This successful effort involved more than 10,000 individuals making donations at all levels and for many purposes across campus. It also involved a group of alumni from up and down the West Coast coming together to serve as volunteer leaders of the effort. There’s no way this would have happened without their time and talent. The donors and volunteers lifted Humboldt up, Boldly Rising, and helped move it forward.

If you are among them: Thank you!

So what does this mean for students and programs at Humboldt?

It means there are many new scholarships and new funding for existing scholarships. There are more research opportunities for students, as well as additional internships, paid research, and other hands-on experiences. There is new specialized equipment, more funding for fieldwork and travel to academic conferences, and more support for intercollegiate athletics.

A few of many impressive campaign statistics:

— The number of students receiving donor-funded scholarships each year has grown from about 500 to more than 800.

— The number of scholarship recipients from the North Coast has grown from 55 to 270.

— Donors to the campaign range in age from 18 to 102, and include alumni from many eras, parents and other family members, faculty and staff, community members, and others.

— Fifty-one percent of donors in the campaign were making their first gift ever to support Cal Poly Humboldt.

— The four years of the campaign represent the four most significant years of donor support ever for Humboldt.

— Many people made significant long-term commitments in their estate plans through more than $17 million in planned gifts.

— Nearly 300 donors gave $10,000 or more.

There were significant highlights throughout the four years of the campaign. Very early on, multiple donors led by St. Joseph Health Humboldt County created a new endowment to enable the launch of the Nursing program. Gifts from hundreds of donors, along with multiple major gifts, helped create the new Rou Dalagurr Food Sovereignty Lab. Humboldt’s first endowed professorship and a new student research program were created in Psychology. An endowment was created to establish a new Visiting Artist program. Another endowment was created to support the Cal Poly Humboldt Press and Special Collections in the Library.

In the first months of the pandemic, hundreds of donors gave more than $150,000 for student basic needs and to help ensure access to technology and specialized materials. Donor support during the campaign has also helped expand emergency housing, provide funds for the campus food pantry, and fund programs to help students dealing with adversity or health challenges.

The first endowed scholarship in Intercollegiate Athletics was created, supporting students on the women’s rowing team. In addition, many contributed to help re-establish men’s wrestling. Other donors came together to create more scholarships for basketball athletes, giving enough to also name Tom Wood Court. New donations have also supported the athletics weight room and club sports. A rodeo team will be announced soon, and a number of donors are already prepared to support that championship-level program.

The campaign also saw the creation of an annual Giving Day at Humboldt. In its second year in 2024, Giving Day had more than 1,400 donors give more than $325,000 to programs across campus.

The Boldly Rising Campaign continues through the end of this month. Volunteer leaders on the Campaign Cabinet and the Cal Poly Humboldt Foundation Board are encouraging continued giving to provide as much support for students as possible. The campaign will be celebrated in October during Lumberjack Weekend, Oct. 17-20, and the total amount raised will be announced then.

The campaign was led by volunteers on the Campaign Cabinet and the Cal Poly Humboldt Foundation Board, who not only gave significant time but also made significant financial contributions. They are:

Campaign Cabinet: Dan Phillips, 1991, chair; Philip Anton, 1998, vice chair;  Carin Kaltschmidt, 1990, vice chair;  Jack McGurk, 1966, vice chair; Robin Smith, 1978, vice chair; John Ballard, 1980; Ed Bowler, 1979; Ceva Courtemanche, 2007; Jacob Furgatch, 1982; Sherie Cornish Gordon; Jenny Harris; Tom Jackson, Jr.; Amine Khechfé, parent; Robert Miller, 1985; Rebecca Pardoe, 1993; Barbara Perry-Lorek, parent; Robin Quigley, 2011; Sharon Redd; Dan Sealy, 1975; Robin Venuti, 1979; Frank Whitlatch.

Foundation Board: Robin Smith, 1978, board chair; Jack McGurk, 1966, vice chair; Jason Carlson, treasurer; Frank Whitlatch, executive director and secretary; Philip Anton, 1998; Eden Donahue, 2009; Kenneth Fulgham, 1970; Sherie Gordon; Scott Hunt; Tom Jackson, Jr.; Carin Kaltschmidt, 1990; Jennifer Keller; Jordan Kemme; Robin Quigly, 2011.

More details about the campaign are at

Be well.

Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr. is the President of Cal Poly Humboldt. Frank Whitlatch is the Executive Director of the Cal Poly Humboldt Foundation.