Monday, July 14, 2014

Lisa Rossbacher's First Day on Campus

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:21 PM

click to enlarge New HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • New HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.

It was beautifully gray-skied today up at Humboldt State University — just the weather the institution’s new president, Lisa Rossbacher, had been promised she could (happily) expect here in her new home county.

After a surprise blast of welcoming horns from the Marching Lumberjacks, Rossbacher hiked around campus on her first official day, meeting staff and some faculty and taking care of initial business. First she got her library card, saying she had her priorities straight. She also picked up her keys: four metal ones and a plastic access card. “Oh, my goodness, it’s old school,” Rossbacher teased when Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management, laid the metal keys before her. As Ferdolage explained the complicated ins and outs of locks and security alarms, Rossbacher joked again, “So it’s a lot of opportunities to set off alarms.”

click to enlarge Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management, left, and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management, left, and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.
She also visited the auto shop, mail room, print shop, forestry building and veterans, disability and sustainability programs and more. Rossbacher asked people about their work, how long they’d been doing it, and then often delved deeper into conversation.

click to enlarge Anthony Baker, HSU's facilities business service coordinator, left; Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management; and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Anthony Baker, HSU's facilities business service coordinator, left; Traci Ferdolage, associate vice president of facilities management; and new HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.

Rossbacher is Humboldt State University's seventh president and its first woman president. She takes over from President Rollin C. Richmond, who retired this year.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Updated. Our Miss California Contender

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 11:28 AM

  • Photo courtesy Kathryn Faull for Miss California Facebook page
  • Kathryn Faull

Tonight, at the William Saroyan Theatre in toasty downtown Fresno, the winner of this year's Miss California pageant will be crowned after a buoyant Broadway-themed spectacular. And among the 54 contending young women is one of our own: Humboldt State University kinesiology student Kathryn Faull, Miss Central California Regional 2014. If she wins, she competes in the Miss America contest in September.

Faull's actually a Stockton native, but she's at HSU now. And while — hold on, now, all you pageant haters, let me finish. And while (judging by her Facebook page), Faull seems as bubbly, girly and polished as any self-respecting pageant lover could hope, she's no flibbertigibbet. In fact, it's doubtful anyone too flighty could rise this high in the contest. They're competing for higher education scholarships, for one, and that's what drew in Faull, according to a quote in The Fresno Bee:

"'As a child, I swore that I would never be a pageant girl,' Faull said. 'However, when I knew I would be attending Humboldt State, I knew I needed scholarships.'"

Each contestant has to raise money, in part for those scholarships. Last year, according to the Miss America Organization, it and its state and local organizations gave out $45 million in cash and scholarships, "making it the world’s largest single source of scholarships for women." Within that, the Miss California scholarship stash is the largest.

The contestants also raise money for the Children's Miracle Networks hospitals and the winner commits to spending time hanging out with those hospitalized kids. And, contestants have to demonstrate a specific talent and survive tough-question interviews — Faull, on her Facebook page, said she strutted her stuff (tap dancing) and that she aced one on-stage question in particular: "It was in regards to the Affordable Care Act and I know just how I feel about it!" (She doesn't elucidate.)

Sure, the women also must shine in a bathing suit and evening gown, but those get-ups simply show off how serious they are about fitness. We're talking role models, here. Certainly personality counts, but it's not quite like the early days of the Miss America Pageant — to which all regional and state contests lead — when the women donned bathing suits and talked pretty so that a bunch of East Coast newspapermen could boost their papers' circulations (according to

Ahem. Well, that's something.
UPDATE: And the winner is: Miss Yosemite Valley Marina Inserra.
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Del Norte School Board Extends ACLU Settlement

Posted By on Sat, May 10, 2014 at 1:12 PM

click to enlarge THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
The Del Norte County Unified School District Board voted unanimously this week to extend its settlement agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which stemmed from a lawsuit brought against the district alleging a pattern of racial discrimination against Native American students.

The district has made progress under the settlement agreement adopted in 2009, all sides agree, working to develop and implement curriculum teaching the history of the Yurok Tribe, forming the American Indian Education Advisory Council and reducing the numbers of suspensions and expulsions. Additionally, the district has largely complied with the terms of a monitoring program put in place with the settlement.

However, there’s more work to be done. From the board’s staff report: “The district has been unable to fully develop, implement and monitor the implementation of curricula that teaches about the history and culture of the Yurok Tribe for grades 5, 8, 11 and 12. Despite the reduction in suspensions and expulsions, more could be done, including continuing to reduce all forms of exclusionary discipline and reducing the racial disparities in that exclusionary discipline.”

The vote extends the settlement agreement through August 2017.

“By extending our agreement, district officials have strengthened their commitment to ensuring in future years that Native American students have equal opportunities to achieve education success,” Jory Steele, managing attorney and director of education equity for the ACLU of Northern California, said in a press release. “We are confident that the district, along with community members and tribal leaders, will improve the educational outcomes for all the district’s students.”

It’s likely administrators in Eureka are keeping a close eye on the situation in Del Norte as the ACLU brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Eureka City Schools District in December, alleging that Native American and black students are subjected to unchecked, systemic racial and sexual discrimination from students and staff and that minority students suffer unequal discipline. You can read more about the case against Eureka City Schools here.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arcata School Nationally Recognized

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

click to enlarge Northcoast_Preparatory_and_Performing_Arts_Academy_.JPG
Wow, those are some smart whippersnappers.

The Washington Post just ranked Arcata’s Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy as the 21st most challenging high school in the country. To compile the rankings, the Post computed an index score using the number of college-level tests given at the school divided by its number of graduates that year, the percentages of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.

It turns out, 95 percent of Northcoast Prep’s graduates passed at least one college-level test during their career and about 43 percent qualify for lunch subsidies. This is the fifth year in a row the 136-student school has landed on the Post’s list, having finished 24th last year, 21st in 2012 and 2010 and 13th in 2011. This year’s index score of 9.952 is the highest the school has ever earned from the Post.

Check out the Washington Post’s full coverage here, and visit the Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy’s website here.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

HSU Has a New President

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

After a months-long search, Humboldt State University has a new president to replace outgoing Rollin Richmond, who is retiring.

Lisa A. Rossbacher, a geologist and geology professor who is currently president of Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga., will be HSU's first female president. Heck, it only took a hundred years!

Here's the news release from the university:

CSU Trustees Appoint Lisa A. Rossbacher as President of
Humboldt State University

** First Woman to Lead HSU **

(March 26, 2014) - The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees has named Lisa A. Rossbacher as president of Humboldt State University (HSU). Rossbacher is currently serving as president at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga. and begins her new position in July.

“It is a wonderful and humbling honor to be chosen to serve the students, faculty and staff as well as the North Coast community as the next president of Humboldt State,” said Rossbacher. “The university’s unique programmatic offerings and beautiful setting draw a diverse group of students who are committed to improving themselves and the community through public service. HSU embraces sustainability and the environment like few other universities, and I look forward to engaging all groups to achieve the university mission.”

Rossbacher succeeds Rollin C. Richmond who is retiring at the end of the academic year after 12 years as president of HSU. Rossbacher will be the university’s seventh - and first woman – president in its 100-year history.

“Throughout her career, Dr. Rossbacher has demonstrated a focus on student success and she leads through consensus building and shared governance. She is a noted scholar and teacher, and as a current university president she brings a wealth of innovative administrative experience necessary to lead at the highest level," said CSU Trustee Larry Norton, chair of the presidential search committee. “Lisa’s broad experience as an educator, scholar and academic leader and her passion for education are qualities that will serve her and HSU well.”

HSU marks a return to the CSU for Rossbacher, who previously served as a professor of geological sciences (1984-1993), as well as the associate vice president of Academic Affairs, at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (1987-1993).

Prior to her service at Southern Polytechnic, Rossbacher served as dean of the college at Dickinson College (1995-98) and vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty at Whittier College (1993-95).

Rossbacher earned a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Princeton University, master’s degrees in geological sciences from Princeton University and the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a bachelor’s in geology from Dickinson College.
Rossbacher’s husband, Dallas D. Rhodes, is also a geologist and has been a professor for more than three decades. Among other areas of interest, he conducts research on the San Andreas Fault. The two have a Doberman named Tango.

# # #

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Feds Investigate Loleta Elementary

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

click to enlarge DOE.jpg
The federal government is launching an investigation into allegations that the Loleta Elementary School District has discriminated against Native American students.

The Americans Civil Liberties Union of Northern California received a letter this week from the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights informing it that the office has officially launched an investigation in response to the ACLU’s complaint alleging systemic discrimination in the district, including the verbal and physical abuse of students by district staff.

“Please note that opening the allegations for investigation in no way implies that (the Office for Civil Rights) has made a determination with regard to their merits,” the letter states. “During the investigation, the OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient and other sources, as appropriate.”

The ACLU filed the complaint last month alleging that the district has engaged in a pattern of discriminatory discipline against Native American students and put up barriers to disability and special needs assessments. Further, the complaint alleges that staff — and specifically Superintendent and Principal Sally Hadden — has been physically and verbally abusive of students, detailing instances when Hadden is alleged to have grabbed a Native American student by the ear and said, “See how red it’s getting?,” hit students with a clipboard and another in which she allegedly referred to a Native American student as a “saltine” because he “looked white.”

Hadden was not immediately available this morning, but the Journal will update this post if she returns a call seeking comment. A call seeking comment from the Office of Civil Rights was also not immediately returned this morning.

In the letter to the ACLU, the Office of Civil Rights indicates it intends to investigate each of the claims raised by the group and requests a meeting with ACLU attorneys to discuss the situation.

For more information about the complaint, as well as a lawsuit the ACLU filed against Eureka City Schools, see past Journal coverage here and here.

UPDATE: U.S. Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw returned the Journal's call Friday morning and sent the following statement:

"OCR received a complaint against the Loleta Union Elementary School District alleging that: Native American students are subjected to harassment based on race and the district has failed to respond appropriately to notice of the harassment. Also, that Native American students are allegedly treated differently than non-Native American students with respect to discipline; that the district denies Native American students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE); and the district discriminates against Native American students with disabilities by refusing to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.

The complaint is under investigation."

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ACLU Suing Eureka City Schools for Racial and Sexual Discrimination

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 11:09 AM

click to enlarge photos-524PPdistrictoffice.jpg
Native American and black students face racial and sexual discrimination from students and staff in Eureka and Loleta according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the National Center for Youth Law.

The suit alleges that top officials in the Eureka City Schools District “subject Black and Native American children to a racially hostile educational environment by allowing pervasive racial harassment to persist unchallenged,” according to a press release. The two groups also joined with California Indian Legal Services to ask the Office for Civil Rights to investigate racial discrimination in the Loleta Union School District.

The groups allege that school officials in Eureka intentionally discriminate against black and Native American students, disciplining those students more harshly than white ones, subjecting them to a “racially hostile educational environment” and pushing them out of mainstream schools into alternative schools. They also say school officials tolerate weekly traditions such as “titty-twisting Tuesdays” and “slap-ass Fridays,” where, according to the press release, “students have their nipples, breasts and buttocks grabbed and hit in school hallways, locker rooms and other areas of district schools.”

Defendants named in the suit include members of the Eureka City Schools District Board of Education, District Superintendent Fred Van Vleck and other school officials.

The complaint against Loleta Union School District says the physical and verbal abuse levied at Native American students is perpetuating racist behavior in the region that dates back nearly 150 years.

You can read the complaint against the Eureka City Schools District here. And here  is the Loleta complaint. The full press release is below.

Addendum: The Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria passed a resolution supporting the Office of Civil Rights complaint. Read it here.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Higher Edcuation

Posted By on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 2:11 PM

click to enlarge HedbergVehicel72.jpeg

Humboldt State University students Sebastian  Hedberg and John Ferrara noticed something amiss after a respray of the curb outside the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences dean's office. 
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Friday, October 25, 2013

These People Are Picking HSU’s Next President

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge HSU_Seal.JPG
A guild of university trustees, faculty bigwigs and community members — including one student rep — has assembled to choose Humboldt State University’s next president. Rollin Richmond, who has held the position since 2002, will leave at the end of the coming spring semester. 

The “Committee for the Selection of the President” —  tasked with reviewing applications and interviewing candidates for the university's top job — meets for the first time on Monday. There will be an open forum from 10 a.m. to noon in the Van Duzer Theater followed by a closed-doors session.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

HSU President Rollin Richmond To Retire After This School Year

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:31 AM

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
He sent the announcement out via email this morning.

Dear Campus Community:

I write to inform you that I have decided to retire at the end of this academic year. I have enjoyed my years serving you and believe that we have made real progress at the university over my years of leadership, despite the state's economic struggles.

Over the last eleven years, together we have made substantial improvements in our curricula, shared governance and physical facilities. All of these changes have resulted in better experiences for our students, faculty and staff. Our service to our community is widely recognized as a most important contribution.

Formal announcement of my retirement will be made at the CSU Board of Trustees later today and a public announcement will be issued shortly after. In coming weeks, the Chancellor and Board of Trustees will share information about the process for selecting a new president.

I believe this university presents a unique opportunity for individuals interested in academic administration. I am confident that our Trustees and Chancellor will be able to attract a new President who will appreciate the successful initiatives created by our students, staff and faculty and be anxious to help you mold the next century for Humboldt State University.


Rollin C. Richmond

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