By Celeste Bountour
At the end of the 2014 spring semester, Humboldt State University is losing an important member to the Humboldt State University community — President Rollin C. Richmond, who’s retiring at the end of the semester.
In the 1990s, Richmond, a Long Island resident, found his way to the west for a visit to his daughter’s college in the Bay Area for parent’s weekend. Richmond, not being familiar with the area, accidentally booked a hotel room in Shelter Cove, about four hours north of his daughter’s college. He and his wife ended up falling in love with the area and bought a vacation home. Twelve years ago, HSU was looking for a new president and Richmond got a call. He decided to take the job. Richmond wanted to return to the same CSU system that gave him such a great education.
Sixth president for the last 12 years, Richmond has focused on student- faculty relationships and hands-on involvement. Richmond is involved with Humboldt Energy Independence Fund (HEIF). One plan that Richmond was dedicated to within the HEIF program was increasing their fund by $10 per student for alternative energy sources. When Richmond brought this proposition to the Chancellor, he rejected it. Two months later Richmond told the Chancellor to come to the school and listen to the idea one more time. Except this time the students proposed it. After the meeting the Chancellor decided to approve it.
This money was used for solar panels on top of the music building, along with other efficient energy saving projects.
Richmond loves the HSU campus specifically because the students are so involved. This idea was full of student perseverance and dedication to making the campus green.
However, it was not all successes through Richmond’s career at HSU. Tragedy hit the HSU campus in mid April. A bus of HSU prospects, who would have been first-generation college students, crashed on their way up from Los Angeles for Spring Preview.
“The bus accident is the most tragic thing that has happened to me in all 44 years of higher education,” Richmond said.
During this difficult time for staff and loved ones of the victims, Richmond was able to keep his composure around campus. Journalism student Karl Holappa was hunting Richmond down in the parking lot to get a quote on this issue. Richmond gladly turned around and willingly gave an interview. This wasn’t the first time Holappa had conversed with Richmond. They also had a casual conversation at the 50th anniversary for the graduating class of 1954.
Holappa was impressed, he said, because it’s one thing to mingle at a social gathering and another to get a quote during a busy time for the president. The fact that Richmond was still able to help a student, regardless of what he was dealing with, really shows he is devoted to the students and their education.
“That to me, seems so above and beyond,” Holappa said.
Business major student Alex Rae Cooper met Richmond during a business internship meeting.
“I’m really glad I had the opportunity to not only shake our presidents’ hand,” Cooper said. “He was genuinely interested in what we were learning.”
After his retirement, Richmond plans on spending more time visiting his grandchildren who live on the East Coast.
”It will give me more time to do a number of things,” said Richmond. “I’m hoping to continue to serve the community and to help the university if there are things I can do on behalf of Humboldt State or even California State Universities.”