By Ray Hamill — Humboldt State sports fans will have learned little from the visit of CSU Chancellor Timothy White to the local campus this week, and the community at large not much more than that.
White’s visit, which wasn’t announced until the last minute, was largely to meet with local law enforcement about the unsolved Josiah Lawson case, and he took the opportunity to chat with a cross section of the local media on Tuesday afternoon.
As you would expect, however, he gave little away about anything of substance, mostly outlining the process for hiring a new president and skirting around the questions that mattered the most.
Sitting alongside current HSU president Lisa Rossbacher, who is retiring at the end of the school year, he praised her accomplishments over the past four years despite the widespread criticism of her presidency, and told reporters that no presidency is without criticism.
Most notably, however, the chancellor said he will be back in February along with the four members of the committee of trustees responsible for the hiring process, and will hold an open forum as a part of that process, and one that will also be streamed for anyone wishing to voice their input.
The committee will then put together a “nine or 10 page” job description, “based on the input of everyone up here as well as the trustees and myself,” White said.
That’s good news for local sports fans, and at least will give them the opportunity to impress on those responsible for such a momentous decision just what the school football team and HSU sports means to the area.
It doesn’t guarantee anything will change, of course, but it does give them a voice, something many of them feel they have not had under Rossbacher.
An expected 40-60 applicants will then be trimmed down to six finalists, and White says he is hoping the new hire will be announced in May.
In regard to the decision to eliminate the football program, White said it “was a painful one,” while adding that “it was the difficult but right decision to make” because of the budget problems.
During the 45 minute session, Rossbacher also talked about how the school is doing everything possible to help the current players who will be without a team after this season.
Neither White nor the president, however, adequately answered the question of how eliminating the football team will affect the diversity on campus, again skirting around the issue.
In regards to the Title IX issues that eliminating football brings up, White deferred to Rossbacher.
“I’m not going to ignore it,” she said. “We’ve already started the process of figuring out how to align it,” adding that they have a few years to sort that out.
Once again, the answer offered fans little of substance.
On the up side, however, after being exposed to the various criticisms of the current administration, White will leave Arcata with a better understanding of how important these issues are to the community, while his visit alone suggests he is paying at least some attention to the ongoing problems.
He also accepted an invitation to appear on KHUM in February.
But the biggest take from the afternoon is the opportunity the public forum will offer, giving the community at least a chance to have their voices heard.
Including football fans.
HSU represents less than three percent of the total CSU budget, so it’s not generally a high concern item for the chancellor or the board of trustees.
But the community will now get a rare opportunity to impress upon these decision makers just how much that three percent means to Humboldt County.