SPSU leader Rossbacher takes post in California
by Rachel Gray
March 27, 2014 12:00 AM | 7252 views | 6 6 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Lisa Rossbacher will become the president of Humboldt State University in July.<br>Staff/file
Dr. Lisa Rossbacher will become the president of Humboldt State University in July.
MARIETTA — Southern Polytechnic State University’s president, who was about to be displaced after a mandated merger with Kennesaw State University, has accepted a new position at a northern California school.

Lisa Rossbacher will become the first female president in the 100-year history of Humboldt State University, which is part of the California State University system off the Arcata Bay outside of Eureka, Calif.

Rossbacher will start her new role as HSU’s seventh president on July 1, succeeding Rollin Richmond, who is retiring at the end of the academic year after 12 years as president.

The move will be a return by Rossbacher to California. She previously served as a professor of geological sciences and the associate vice president of Academic Affairs at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, from 1984 to 1993.

HSU offers 49 undergraduate majors, including art, biology, business administration, elementary education, English, kinesiology, psychology and wildlife, as well as 12 graduate programs and hundreds of minor degrees, concentrations and certificates of study.

The university emphasizes a combination of classroom and hands-on learning, with experiments, lab research and field work.

Rossbacher could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“The university’s unique programmatic offerings and beautiful setting draw a diverse group of students who are committed to improving themselves and the community through public service,” Rossbacher said in an announcement posted to HSU’s website. “HSU embraces sustainability and the environment like few other universities, and I look forward to engaging all groups to achieve the university mission.”

A scientific search

Rossbacher, who earned a master’s and a doctorate degree in geological sciences from Princeton University, has dedicated her career to science education, including her time in the 1990s as a dean and professor at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and a stint as a science reporter in 1982 for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.

Her list of qualifications, includes 20 pages of honors and publications, including her work as the principal investigator for the NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program, the Glass Ceiling Award from the Cobb Executive Women in April 2006 and the Recognition for Leadership in Latino Education by the Atlanta Chapter of National Society of Hispanic MBAs in October 2005.

Her appointment to HSU was part of a national search by a selection committee of California State University’s Board of Trustees.

“Lisa’s broad experience as an educator, scholar and academic leader and her passion for education are qualities that will serve her and HSU well,” said CSU Trustee Larry Norton, chair of the presidential search committee.

Growth at SPSU under Rossbacher’s tenure

Since 1998, Rossbacher has been the president of SPSU, which saw its enrollment grow 78 percent under her leadership to 6,500 students, and focused on science, engineering, technology and architecture.

New academic programs were added in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, new media arts and game design.

The University of Georgia System is formulating a plan to merge SPSU with KSU as part of a continuing effort to reduce administrative costs and relieve some of the burden on state funding of higher education.

Both schools will operate under the Kennesaw State University name, with current KSU President Dan Papp leading the merged institution.

In November, Rossbacher was one of four finalists considered as the next president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, three hours south of Salt Lake City.

In April of 2012, Rossbacher went down a similar path when she was a finalist for a position with Wichita State in Kansas.

In March 2010, she withdrew her name for the presidency of the University of Alaska after visiting the school. In 2009, she was passed over for the top job at New Mexico State University after visiting its Las Cruces campus.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Humboldt Made
March 27, 2014
Dr. Rossbacher--welcome to the most beautiful place on earth!

Go Owls
March 27, 2014
Big Chicken Tech Grads need to get over it. The creme rose to top.
March 26, 2014
She has been trying to leave that University for the last 5 years....
Mad Alumni
March 26, 2014
She let the alumni down! She was too busy trying to leave that she allowed a lesser institution to take over to pay for their football program. GOOD RIDDANCE!
March 27, 2014
she was a very busy girl, jetting to those job interviews these last years.

Back in Cali, where she belongs I suppose.

She and Hinojosa....treated like royalty by the business community and then whammo. It's so disappointing when people don't join the clique.
March 27, 2014
She is solely responsible for the tremendous growth in science and technology at SPSU. She long ago saw the handwriting on the wall that football..not academics is king in Georgia and Cobb County. Her departure is our loss.
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