Donors Give $9.4 Million to Support Students and Programs at HSU

Oct, 2021
Conducting research in Trinidad Bay, HSU students like these and the university's unique hands-on learning experiences inspire the generosity of donors year after year.

In a year marked by incredible challenges, the Humboldt State University community rallied together to generously support students with scholarships and new opportunities. Over the course of the year, 3,360 donors gave $9.4 million.

HSU donors helped fund scholarships, technology for remote learning, and basic needs programs to house and feed students. In the past year, 674 students were supported through donor-funded scholarships and awards, including more than 100 supported through the Student Adversity Fund. 

"Thank you to everyone who stepped up to support HSU students over the last year," said Jenny Harris, President & CEO of American Hydroponics and Chair of the HSU Foundation Board of Directors. "Being a proud member of our community, business owner, and HSU supporter, I am fortunate to be able to help students achieve that monumental goal of going to university and graduating. As a college student, I received scholarships and grants to help pay for my education. I don’t know if I would have received my degree or experienced university life without that help."

A few highlights:

  • 890 donors gave for the first time

  • 1,800 donors were HSU alumni, and they gave more than $3 million

  • The average gift amount tripled from the previous year

Also in 2020-21, the HSU endowment grew to nearly $43 million. This was due to more than $1 million in new gifts to the endowment as well as outstanding return on investments for the year. The HSU Foundation was able to distribute more than $1.3 million in support of endowed scholarships and programs. 

Donors supported the endowment through gifts like the Braden Hogan Memorial Wildlife Internship Endowment in memory of Braden Hogan (‘05, Wildlife). Building on the generous scholarship that the Hogan family established in 2007, the Hogan family recently gave an additional $230,000 to the HSU Foundation, a long-term investment that provides Wildlife students with paid internship opportunities and hands-on experience for years to come. 

Among the many gifts in support of scholarships, alum Dan Phillips (‘91, Business and Computer Information Systems) committed a leadership gift of $1 million, including a $100,000 challenge for matching donations. The gift is for scholarships for local high school students who attend HSU. Phillips hopes that other donors will be inspired to create similar scholarships, and he says that investing in young people is the best way to make an impact on the entire community.

Other donor-funded initiatives include the groundbreaking Food Sovereignty Lab and Cultural Workspace. In consultation with Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and community members, the Food Lab will operate as a commercial kitchen, with a plant drying station and salmon pit for preparing Indigenous food, baskets, and regalia. Donors included Leah B. Thibault, who gave $60,000 to the Food Lab through the newly created Batt Ingram Memorial Fund, in memory of her parents and grandparents, both HSU alumni. The Food Lab is slated to open Fall 2022, and HSU will become the first university in California with a space dedicated to uplifting tribal sovereignty through the research and practice of food sovereignty. 

Some of the other gifts from 2020-21:

  • The Crankstart Foundation, a Bay Area nonprofit, supported 10 HSU transfer students with $2,500 individual scholarships. 

  • The Aidan Leaf Mullin Memorial Scholarship was established with a $50,000 gift from Aidan’s parents, Brennan and Kristin, and will support students studying Botany, Rangeland Resource Science, or Forestry.

  • Connie Stewart (‘88, Speech Communication) made a bequest commitment of $250,000 to the University, using her legacy to make an impact on future HSU students.  

  • Glen Atkinson (‘63, Economics) and his wife, Pattie, established the Atkinson Economics Student Workspace Fund, along with the Atkinson Family Library Scholar Internship. Both gifts will help expand students’ opportunities in economics and art at HSU.

“We’re so grateful to the Humboldt alumni and other supporters who have really responded to the positive change that’s underway. They tell us they want to help students pursue their dreams and they want to be part of the energy around the polytechnic vision,” says Frank Whitlatch, HSU’s Vice President for University Advancement and the HSU Foundation’s Executive Director. 

Be part of creating a brighter future. Contact the HSU Foundation today at 707.826.5200 or to discuss how you can support Humboldt students. Learn more at

Photo: Conducting research in Trinidad Bay, HSU students like these and the university's unique hands-on learning experiences inspire the generosity of donors year after year.