Forever Humboldt

HSU Police Chief Establishes Scholarship to Support Service-Minded Students

Sep, 2016
HSU Police Chief Donn Peterson, right, presents an award to lead dispatcher Angelica Preciado.

The Humboldt State University Police Department (UPD) is here to serve and protect, and with the establishment of a new scholarship, it’s also here to help students achieve their dreams. In the spring, Chief Donn Peterson established the UPD Scholarship Endowment Fund with a personal gift of $2,500. Donn hopes to build the fund to $25,000, the amount needed to permanently endow the scholarship.

Once endowed, the fund’s principle will be managed for growth and remain intact, while the income will be used to award the scholarship in perpetuity. The minimum amount of the award will be $1,000. The annual scholarship will support students doing service-oriented work in the community.

“I think what makes this scholarship so special is that UPD officers are going into their own pockets and giving back to our students,” says Donn, who also makes a monthly contribution toward the fund. Donn says the scholarship was inspired by the need for deeper involvement between police departments and the communities they serve.

“Our work is about service,” he says. “We wanted to establish a scholarship for students who demonstrate that spirit in the community.” With 32 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, the former Marine knows the meaning of service. “Whether it’s advocating for disadvantaged people, or working to preserve the environment, we want to support students doing positive things. We want this award to be flexible and dynamic.”

Having grown up college towns, Donn knows the value of education. “My parents were professors. My brother is a teacher. Humboldt State gives me a sense of belonging. There is a spirit of community that exists at HSU that isn’t like other places.

“I believe the role of the UPD should go above and beyond keeping the campus safe, we want to be proactive about supporting student success.” He also knows the positive effects scholarships can have on hardworking students.

When it comes to his responsibilities as police chief, Donn believes his job is more than protecting students—it’s about respecting them, listening to them, and supporting their academic success.

“There are some real issues surrounding policing in America today. There is a lot of projected anger out there. I understand it. When students protest, or talk about Black Lives Matter, they are voicing legitimate concerns. We can learn a lot by listening to them,” he says.

“The UPD Scholarship is another way we can demonstrate we are here to help. It’s a way to deepen our relationship with the campus community. I’m constantly thinking about what we can do to show we’re in solidarity with our students.”

With this scholarship, Donn is looking ahead to the next generation and beyond. “We want to have a positive, lasting effect, not just through tomorrow, but 100 years from now. Anyone can be a part of this living legacy.”

This semester, when Donn meets with other police chiefs from across the CSU system, he will encourage them to follow his lead by establishing scholarships of their own.

If you’d like to support the UPD Scholarship Fund, you can make an online donation here. If you have questions about this scholarship, or if you’d like to learn about other ways to support HSU students and the community, email the Office of Philanthropy at or call 707-826-5200.