Sociologist Named Top Professor

Arcata – Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond has approved the Academic Senate’s recommendation of sociologist Jennifer Eichstedt as Outstanding Professor for the 2008-2009 academic year.


Professor Jennifer Eichstedt has been named Outstanding Professor for the 2008-2009 academic year. / Humboldt State University

In his message to Eichstedt, the president said, “You have clearly impressed many students and faculty with your imaginative approaches to learning. Thank you for all you do for Humboldt State and please accept my warm congratulations for your accomplishments.”

Accepting the honor, Eichstedt said, “This award is gratifying and humbling at the same time. It is a gift to be a teacher, and the profound part of this award is I’m being recognized by other people whom I think are phenomenal teachers. My goal has always been to be a really good teacher. That’s why I became a professor in the first place. I can make a difference for people in how they see themselves in the world and their ability to create change.”

The Senate’s Faculty Awards Committee said letters of support, including student evaluations, consistently praised Eichstedt’s commitment to her students, “her innovative approaches to teaching and her ability to challenge students to think deeply about issues of race, gender and ethnicity, while maintaining a respectful and supportive classroom environment.”

One student wrote that Eichstedt’s teaching philosophy “indicates her interest in creating classes that are student-centered.” She was also praised for her ability to adapt to multiple ways of learning for “a diverse group of students found in an upper division general education environment.”

The course is titled “Race and Ethnicity” and accommodates up to 150 undergraduates in a large lecture hall. Students and colleagues say Eichstedt is skilled at asking questions that draw out unstated assumptions about race and ethnic background. Her method enables students to appreciate differences rather than employ them as labels.

A professor at Humboldt State since 1998, Eichstedt earned her doctorate in 1995 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is co-chair of HSU’s Diversity Plan Action Council and a member of the Personnel Committees of Women’s Studies and Native American Studies. She is also a member of the American Sociological Association, the Society for Applied Sociology and the National Council on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Eichstedt a $30,000 fellowship to analyze representations of slavery in Louisiana and Virginia plantation museums. She and a colleague from Berkeley, Professor Stephen Small, co-authored Representations of Slavery: The Plantation Museum Industry in the New South.

Eichstedt is published in fields such as white privilege, multiculturalism, oppression and resistance. Her recent research has included examination of California Missions and how their displays represent Mexicans, Indians, Europeans and Americans.