Kathryn Corbett: Beloved by Students, Advocate of Seniors and Women - Humboldt State Now

Kathryn Corbett: Beloved by Students, Advocate of Seniors and Women

Longtime HSU faculty member Kathryn Corbett died earlier this month at the age of 99.

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Kathryn Corbett in 1980 / Public Affairs Collection, HSU Library Special Collections

Arriving at Humboldt State College in the late ‘40s as a young widow with two sons, Corbett earned a Master’s of Art in the Secondary Education program. She joined the faculty of Humboldt State College in 1952 and taught until 1980. Corbett helped establish the Women’s studies program, and also chaired the Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology departments.

Perhaps Corbett’s biggest contribution to the University came in the early 1970s. She was instrumental in creating Humboldt State’s Women’s Studies program, one of the earliest of its kind. She co-taught one of the program’s first courses, Sociology of Women, in fall 1972. The program is currently administered by the Department of Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies. In 1982, she wrote “In the Catbird Seat,” a history of the Women’s Studies department, with co-author Kathleen Preston.

In her retirement, Corbett kept busy. She was active in youth and women’s groups, helped create HSU’s Over 60 Program, and was a member of the Humboldt County Grand Jury, American Red Cross, Easter Seals, and the United Way. She served on the boards of General Hospital, and the NorthCountry Clinic of Women and Children. She also served as president of the Area 1 Agency on Aging, which administers senior programs in Del Norte and Humboldt counties.

Her work to advocate for women and seniors was duly recognized. In 1989, she was “Woman of the Year” in California’s second senatorial district, an honor bestowed by state Sen. Barry Keene. And in 1991, she was inducted into the California Business and Professional Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Corbett Conference Room in Siemens Hall is named for her.

A memorial is pending.