College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | School year to start soon with hope, optimism

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

Thursday, August 10, 2023 - 1:00pm

The beginning of our academic year is right around the corner. I look forward to our campuses coming back to life as students return later this month. Every new year and new semester, I know that our Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and management go into this time with a sense of hope and optimism for what lies ahead.

We will hold our annual convocation event next week. Convocation is something I look forward to every year. It gives me an opportunity to speak with my faculty and staff colleagues about our work and our future. In this article, I would like to touch briefly on a few things that I will mention in my welcoming address next week, which I hope will be useful for us to think about as we move forward.

We added eight new faculty, seven new managers, and 24 new classified staff to our college community. The Administration and the Board of Trustees clearly understand that having employees treading economic water or losing ground with wages isn’t good for the institution. That is why we knew providing wage increases to help our employees keep up with inflation, housing, and other rising costs for goods and services was a priority that would also make us more competitive in hiring.

The project that the executive director of the CR Foundation Marty Coelho is working on to document the history of CR made me think about what CR’s past faculty and staff would think if they could see us now. Would they approve of how far we have come? I believe that they would be proud of what we’ve achieved.

During CR’s very recent history, our college community redoubled its commitment to the communities we serve. We can look at the progress of our athletic department in recruiting local athletes as an example. Not counting the COVID years, the number of local athletes participating in our athletic programs has increased. We had 110 local athletes in 2019-20, 112 last year and are projecting to get 125 this year. Our student success metrics, including for our student-athletes, have remained strong, even in the aftermath of enrollment losses due to the pandemic.

We created an Education Master Plan that I believe is the envy of our sister institutions. We have a Room and Board Scholarship to help our homeless and housing and food insecure students. Our partnerships with the Pelican Bay State Prison and the Humboldt County jail have allowed us to offer an unprecedented level of education and support to our incarcerated students. Our talented computer information systems students have again proven successful on the national stage, placing very highly in national cyber security contests. And we have continued to build upon our unique collaborative partnership with Cal Poly Humboldt which benefits our students and community.

Last year, we were extremely successful in pursuing grant money to support critical programs and services and create innovative new ones. We were awarded grants to:

• expand the nursing student cohorts,

• build health care pathways that connect local K-12 students to our healthcare programs that lead to transfer to CSU or UC or to living wage jobs,

• increase faculty’s cultural competence and overall awareness of culturally responsive curriculum,

• establish a local Native American student support and success program,

• support our brand-new aquaculture program, and

• support our social work and human service program.

These grant awards underscore the deep impact we are making on pressing issues facing the college and our community and we will continue to pursue national and state funding to keep this work going.

All of this reminds me that the College of the Redwoods is an exceptional institution with extraordinary people. As employees and as an institution, we sometimes focus on the things we are not doing. However, I would like to start the year by reminding everyone of just a few things that should give us reasons to be proud of our college and what it represents. As the new academic year gets underway, I want all my CR colleagues to hold onto positive energy and enthusiasm and carry it forward through fall.

Dr. Keith Flamer is the president of the College of the Redwoods.