Richmond Bolsters Ombudspersons

Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond has appointed Dr. Scott Paynton, chair of the Department of Communication, as a University Ombudsperson to expand conflict resolution services that focus primarily on student issues and concerns.

Dr. Paynton joins Dr. Margaret Kelso, Professor of Theatre, Film and Dance and Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies. The two will provide confidential and impartial mediation to faculty and staff as well as students, working informally to resolve concerns or complaints and making recommendations for corrective or preventive action.

Correspondingly, President Richmond is further enlarging diversity services with two new appointments and the restructuring of diversity and compliance functions, as recommended by the Diversity Plan Action Council (DPAC). He has named Dr. Llyn Smith, chair of the Department of Religious Studies and associate professor of anthropology, to serve as Interim Director of Diversity Programming. Jyoti Rawal, Coordinator of the Learning Skills Lab, will serve as Interim Associate Director of Diversity Programming.

Their appointments stem from the recent reorganization of Diversity and Compliance Services, which split compliance and programming. Compliance, equity, and discrimination complaints are now the responsibility of Human Resources, aligning HSU with two-thirds of other California State University campuses. Students, staff, or faculty who have questions about discrimination can obtain assistance from Human Resources in Room 211, Siemens Hall.

Programming comprises the oversight of the DPAC, the Diversity Funding Committee, and the coordination of recruitment and training strategies with faculty personnel and Human Resources.

“I am very pleased that Ms. Rawal and Professor Smith have accepted our invitation to provide interim leadership on diversity issues for the University,” President Richmond said. “Both are already leaders in our efforts to diversify our faculty, staff, and student body. I look forward to working with them and the Diversity Plan Action Committee to continue our progress to make Humboldt State more representative of the ethnic diversity of our state.”

Dr. Smith, a cultural anthropologist who lived for two years in Sri Lanka and was engaged for many years in the women’s movement in Australia, commented, “The more we embrace diversity, the richer our intellectual life becomes. Anthropology continually reveals that the more we are immersed in different world views, the greater our curiosity, tolerance, wonder, understanding, and political willingness to act for justice.”

Ms. Rawal said, “It’s important that I emphasize this is an interim assignment; what’s most exciting about it is that Dr. Smith and I get to be a part of the transition as the President’s office works on a sound and effective plan for this position in the next year.”

The DPAC, created early in 2006 by President Richmond, operates with five task forces that comprise more than 30 students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The group’s annual report, available on the home page at, spells out hundreds of recommendations and action steps to nurture a multicultural campus community.

The report notes that under the President’s leadership, HSU has increased the recruitment, admission, and enrollment of students of color and international students. A new Interdisciplinary Studies major is available in Ethnic Studies, multiplying the opportunities for study and advancement of diversity and social justice issues.

At the request of the President’s Native American Advisory Council, HSU’s Center for Indian Community Development and former Office of Diversity and Compliance Services established a new “Native Americans 101” training program for university administrators.

As recommended by the Chancellor’s Office of California State University, President Richmond is chair of the CSU’s Native American Recruitment and Retention Working Group, an initiative to expand outreach to underrepresented populations. The body is focused on government-to-government relationships with Tribal nations, and on the specific needs of Native American students both regionally and nationally.

For more information, dial 707/826-5105.