Accreditation Team To Humboldt State: Do More To Serve Your Diverse Student Body

Arcata, CA–The WASC Senior College and University Commission which is Humboldt State University’s accrediting organization, visited HSU two weeks ago.

Students organized a walk out and held a protest during the accreditation team’s visit to illustrate their concerns and frustrations over recent budget cuts.

Press Release:

HSU Students Will Walk Out to Protest Budget Cuts On Wednesday, March 21st at 1:10 p.m.

“HSU students are walking out to protest budget cuts. Organized students have strategically planned this walkout during the Accreditation Review, which will evaluate HSU’s educational quality, student success, and our institutional and fiscal sustainability. Humboldt State University has a continuing history of financial and housing crises– a product of bloated Administrator salaries, historical embezzlement scandals, and continued mismanagement.

HSU is currently in yet another housing crisis. At the same time, faculty and staff are facing layoffs. Classes necessary for graduation are on the chopping block. Our critical services, like childcare, are being privatized. When students engage Administrators, participate in forums, and ask polite questions, we are given the runaround. We are told this crisis is not for us to worry about.

Our Administrators repeatedly deny responsibility for our state of affairs and cut everyone’s budgets but their own. Students are ready to hold our Administrators accountable. Students and faculty face homelessness and food insecurity while our Administrators have just given themselves another raise. Enough is enough.

The California State University system was intended to be free, and we will fight to achieve free, equal access to higher education for all. Student Coalition for Organizing and Direct Action (SCODA) is a diverse coalition of students and community members dedicated to addressing institutional inequality. Please join us and the community in this direct action.”

HSU has to provide institutional reports to WASC and the school gets a visit every ten years. In 2017, HSU submitted their report to WASC in preperation for the visit this year.

2017 WSCUC Institutional Report

Student Protest the day of the WASC visit.

A few days after the visit, HSU’s President Lisa Rossbacher sent out this campus-wide email detailing recommendations from the WASC review team.

“I want to express my deep appreciation to everyone who helped support the visit by the WASC Senior College and University Commission team last week. This visit was the culmination of years of preparation, and I particularly want to thank our Accreditation Liaison Officers, Jena Burges, Mary Glenn, for their leadership and hard work in planning and executing this process.

In their exit meeting with our community, the WSCUC team members complimented HSU on a well-written self-study report, and they offered five commendations and seven recommendations. My brief summary of these items is below, but these represent my interpretation; the actual report will almost certainly state these topics differently.

The commendations:

  • Our programs are aligned with our stated priorities and institutional values; student commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice was particularly noteworthy.
  • The academic programs actively engage students.
  • Interdisciplinary programs include an alignment with cultural perspectives (the Klamath Connection was noted as a wonderful example of this).
  • The Office of Institutional Effectiveness is doing a great job of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data that are valuable in making decisions.
  • The strategic planning process clearly established student success as a priority and is a valuable guide for resource allocation.

The recommendations:

  • HSU needs to be doing more to serve our diverse population of students with appropriate funding and staffing for the programs that serve them.
  • The admission efforts need to incorporate more information about the challenges, as well as the opportunities, for students considering HSU (i.e., present the realities of limited housing, safety concerns, racism in the community, etc.).
  • The University leadership needs to improve communications on campus and incorporate change management processes.
  • Student learning outcomes need to be assessed regularly, consistently, and comprehensively.
  • HSU needs to be doing more to serve the diverse population of students by providing appropriate academic and student support services (i.e., more funding and more staff). This is similar to the first recommendation, but it is connected to a different criterion for review.
  • HSU needs to prioritize hiring more faculty of color and training current faculty and staff in “cultural competency” (the team’s phrase).
  • HSU must create a sustainable budget, stabilize enrollment, and raise more money – from public and private sources – to augment state funding.

With the exception of the second recommendation, all of these are already part of the University’s strategic plan, and I am confident that, as a community, we can address these goals.

We will receive a draft of the team’s report in a few weeks, and the formal decision about reaffirmation of accreditation will come this summer, after the Commission meets in late June. That is when we will learn when our next self-study report and visit will be scheduled. In the meantime, we clearly need to continue our focus on supporting the success of all our students, comprehensively assessing our student learning outcomes, and stabilizing our fiscal situation and our enrollment.”

More information is available on the HSU Self Study for Reaffirmation website.

Again, thank you for your engagement in this important process of reflection, self-assessment, and continuous improvement.


Lisa A. Rossbacher, Ph.D.

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Slauson Girl is a South Central native who has a love for journalism, history and all things Hip-Hop. She holds a B.A in Critical Race & Gender Theory & a Minor in Journalism. Follow Me on IG @Slausongirl

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