Jenn Capps: Provost update on polytechnic self-study

Note: the following was sent out to the Humboldt State campus community last weeek. –Ed.

Welcome back from fall break! I hope you had an opportunity to enjoy some downtime and engage in activities that were rejuvenating for you. As we march down the final stretch of this Fall 2020 semester, I am excited to provide you more information about the invitation we received from the Chancellor’s office to engage in a self-study and business plan to become the CSU’s third polytechnic university.

As you know, President Jackson sent out a campus message on Nov. 23, 2020 about this incredible invitation. I want to acknowledge the tremendous accomplishment that HSU was asked to engage in this self-study as it reflects HSU’s excellence. 

This request comes at an opportune time and syncs well with our strategic planning process, academic road map planning process, preparation for upcoming WSCUC accreditation visits, expansion of outreach and student recruitment efforts, planning for the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, and our ongoing budget realignment and reorganization.

I suspect you may have a few questions about what all this means. Here is a little bit of information to begin.

What is a polytechnic?

Polytechnic universities embrace a “learn by doing” approach to education and deliver a curriculum with broad offerings in natural sciences, applied sciences, technology and engineering, while also maintaining a strong liberal arts curriculum.

Why is a polytechnic designation valuable?

Many students seek the learning experience and prestige associated with a polytechnic designated institution. A formal designation would bring broader recognition to HSU, enable new grant and donation opportunities, facilitate development of new programs, raise the profile of all academic programs, and attract new students from California and beyond.

Why HSU?

HSU was asked to engage in the self-study process to become a polytechnic because of our strengths in sustainability and hands-on learning, our highly regarded academic programs, our location (ocean, forest, North Coast) and our rich tribal connections. A polytechnic university in the northern part of the state would also assist California in providing access to high-demand programs.

What about the liberal arts and/or non-science or non-tech academic programs?

Seeking a polytechnic designation would not diminish the value of our exceptional liberal arts programming but rather double down on the value students and our community derive from them. Comprehensive 21st Century polytechnic universities effectively incorporate creativity, critical thinking, social justice principles, social theory and philosophy, and much more. As we know, employers are increasingly seeking graduates who have this knowledge and these skills.

What is meant by a self-study?

The Chancellor’s Office has asked that HSU facilitate a formal self-study process and conduct a detailed analysis of our campus operations and activities associated with becoming a polytechnic. We will explore our academic programming, facilities, budget planning and fundraising, stakeholder engagement, student success services, and phased implementation. I will convene a small group to work on this self-study during the Spring 2021 semester. If you are interested in participating please contact myself or Lisa Bond-Maupin, who will be helping to lead our self-study process. Upon completion of the self-study it will be submitted to the Chancellor’s Office for further consideration.

Thanks so much and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Jenn Capps
Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs







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