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Humboldt State University approved to become California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt

A view of Founders Hall at Cal Poly Humboldt.
A view of Founders Hall at Cal Poly Humboldt.

Backed by Historic $458M Investment, Humboldt becomes State’s Third Polytechnic University

The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees approved a new designation and name for Humboldt State University—California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt. This caps nearly two years of planning by the Hispanic-Serving Institution for new curricula and facilities, increased hands-on student research opportunities, and the expected enrollment growth associated with the enhanced offerings and new designation.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 26, the institution will adopt its new formal name and will be known informally as Cal Poly Humboldt. The state legislature will be asked to incorporate the name into legislation next year.

“Cal Poly Humboldt will be a polytechnic for the 21st-century, preparing students to address the urgent issues our society faces,” says Cal Poly Humboldt President Tom Jackson, Jr. “The energy, the new academic programs, the incredible polytechnic foundation already in place, and the positive change associated with our new name and designation begins today for our campus community. We look forward to welcoming new students to a CSU campus with great momentum and an unparalleled trajectory. At Humboldt, we have always ‘learned by doing.’ There has never been a better time for students to be a part of Cal Poly Humboldt to achieve their goals.”

The curricula developed by the faculty will emphasize STEM infused with humanities, arts, and ethics, and will be grounded in sustainability and social justice. Cal Poly Humboldt is located in a region with many tribal Nations and Indigenous wisdom will be respectfully and purposely reflected in the university’s academic offerings.

The designation comes at a critical time as California and the nation face a growing demand for diverse STEM professionals and student demand is strong for programs in engineering and other STEM fields. Cal Poly Humboldt will help meet workforce needs in fields such as engineering, technology, and healthcare, in addition to bridging equity gaps in STEM professions. Regionally, a polytechnic institution will also have a tremendous economic impact on the North Coast, a mostly rural area between the San Francisco Bay Area and Oregon.

“Today’s action is an investment in California’s future that will help us meet the workforce needs of the 21st century and drive our economic growth for decades to come,” says Governor Gavin Newsom, who advanced historic funding to support the university’s polytechnic designation in his January state budget proposal last year. “As the CSU’s third polytechnic university and the first in Northern California, Cal Poly Humboldt is a point of pride that will expand in-demand STEM opportunities for students across the state and help revitalize North Coast communities.”

In August, Gov. Newsom and the state legislature approved $458 million ($433 million in one-time funding and $25 million in ongoing funds) to help support the polytechnic vision. Funding from that historic investment was allocated to launch at least 12 academic programs by fall 2023. It will also fund extensive infrastructure improvements and new facilities that directly support student success and retention and allows Cal Poly Humboldt to build out new programs and enhance current academic offerings.

The northernmost campus of the 23-campus California State University system, Cal Poly Humboldt follows in the footsteps of the CSU’s other polytechnics. Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) was established in 1901 followed by Cal Poly Pomona in 1938. Cal Poly Humboldt will approach its designation by reflecting its strong liberal arts roots and highlighting science in service of society. It is anticipated that Cal Poly Humboldt’s continued prioritization of science’s social impact will appeal to STEM-oriented students and specifically increase enrollment and graduation among women and diverse students.

“Between the established practices and programs led by first-rate faculty and staff, and the bold aspirations that they have for expanding curricula and serving greater numbers of talented students, Cal Poly Humboldt is a perfect fit as the CSU’s third polytechnic institution,” says CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro.

“My degree in mechanical engineering not only taught me the value of investing in STEM education for our students, but the benefits these programs have on our communities as well,” says U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. “By establishing itself as a polytechnic institution, Cal Poly Humboldt will help develop a new class of leaders and a highly educated workforce in the North Coast. I’m proud to support higher funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions like Humboldt that are doing the day-to-day work of investing in the next generation and putting the future of our students first.”

“Congratulations to Humboldt State University on its tremendous transformation to Cal Poly Humboldt, with all the incredible resources and opportunities that will bring to the students and communities of the North Coast,” says Congressman Jared Huffman. “This massive investment addresses many of the challenges Cal Poly Humboldt has faced in the current climate of education and brings with it significant benefits to the state and our local economy.”

“This is your moment—Congratulations on your transition to Cal Poly Humboldt! That has such a wonderful ring to it! You have worked so hard to prepare for this change by expanding your already high-quality educational programs to include new polytechnic programs that can fill unique and unmet workforce needs,” says Assemblymember Jim Wood. “The expansion of STEM fields that can support our climate goals, wildfire management, and other new applied science degree programs are issues close to my heart and ones that I fight for every day. The state has had full confidence in you and this expansion enhances your standing in higher education and will have a major and positive impact on the North Coast’s economy, potentially revitalizing it for decades to come. Well done, and well deserved!”

“This is a game changer for this amazing campus community, our regional economy, and the greater North Coast,” says state Senator Mike McGuire. “This name change is just the first step in a transition that will bring more family sustaining jobs, resources and investment into Northern California. Big congrats to the hard working Cal Poly Humboldt students and dedicated staff – the future is bright for Humboldt County.”

Today’s designation began in November 2020 when then CSU Chancellor Timothy White asked Humboldt State University to explore the feasibility of becoming a polytechnic. The University conducted an extensive self-study that culminated in a detailed prospectus outlining the University’s vision, plans, budget, and more.

“Throughout campus, and this entire North Coast region, we are very thankful for the vision set forth by Chancellor-Emeritus White and for the support and trust bestowed upon Cal Poly Humboldt by Governor Newsom, the CSU Board of Trustees, and Chancellor Castro,” says Jackson. “This designation and the related funding allow Cal Poly Humboldt to serve as an exemplar of the reimagining of higher education for our state’s diverse learners. We will continue to align with our state’s growing workforce needs and are truly excited to welcome new students to California’s newest Cal Poly.”