Humboldt State undergoes self-study to be designated third CSU polytechnic

By Jackson Pham, Feb. 16, 2021

Last November, Humboldt State began its self-study to determine if it qualifies to become the third polytechnic university in the California State University system, hoping to join the ranks of Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

However, with only a handful of polytechnic universities in the United States, its inclusion as a polytechnic institute raises questions as to the impact it may have on CPP and the CSU system as a whole.

A memorandum to Humboldt State University President Tom Jackson Jr. from then-CSU Chancellor Timothy White stated that the possible transition of Humboldt State would assist in advancing the state of California because of its robustness in sciences and provide “world-class” programs for the North Coast.

Jenn Capps, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Humboldt State, explained the process of the study is for the institution to report seven components to the Chancellor’s Office before it proceeds to the CSU Board of Trustees for approval.

According to Capps, these components are academic programming, facilities, business plan, external partnerships, university name, student services and inclusive student success, as well as the cross disciplinary/integration role of liberal arts.

Humboldt State has a total of 6,413 students including 5,869 undergraduates and provides 52 majors and 72 minors. Transitioning to a polytechnic could result in an increase in student population for Humboldt by offering majors currently impacted at the Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses.

“I know that some of the different kinds of polytechnic majors, at (San Luis Obispo) and Pomona, that not all students can get into them because there are some barriers or limitations,” said Capps. “Because they are so popular and in such great demand, we have the opportunity to potentially help and to accept some of those, as well as to be able to offer some degree programs that perhaps align really well with being in the North Coast.”

ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh said Humboldt State has a lot of opportunity to partake in the polytechnic experience because of its surrounding location.

“Some people might have this view that it might take away from Cal Poly Pomona, but I don’t think it would,” said Singh.

Nicole Hawkes, chief of staff from The Office of the President was unable to schedule an interview with the Post prior to deadline, but stated, it would be too soon to comment on if the designation may affect Cal Poly Pomona considering that Humboldt State has not finished their self-assessment.

One of the most visible polytechnic connections in the CSU is the decades-long collaboration between CPP and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to build the annual Cal Poly Rose Float. However, according to an emailed statement by Rose Float Director Cary Khatab, Humboldt is not expected to join the joint program between the first two polytechnics, regardless of whether it is approved to become the third CSU polytechnic.

“There has been no discussion and no plan to do so,” Khatab stated. “Our 73-year tradition encompasses both San Luis Obispo and Pomona and is not going to change.”

Cindy Dice, fourth-year English student and CPP president of the Rose Float, explained that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students travel to Pomona every October to transport their materials for the float, which is around a four-hour drive. Dice said it would be difficult to collaborate with Humboldt State because of the distance.

“Even transferring the students every single weekend, I don’t know how they would be able to do that,” added Dice.

According to a campus-wide email by President Jackson, Humboldt State’s self-study is expected to be completed by the end of spring 2021 term. However, there has not been a designated date as to when it would be presented to the CSU Board of Trustees.

For updates and information regarding Humboldt’s polytechnic self-study, visit


Feature image courtesy of Humboldt State University. 

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