Inaugural Honors Dinner Salutes Academic Community

Humboldt State University recognized the year’s distinguished alumni, faculty, students and staff during its first Humboldt State Honors Dinner.

The event celebrates outstanding contributions to HSU’s academic mission by highlighting the important role played by all members of the campus community.

Hosted by President Rollin Richmond and attended by some 200 invited guests, it featured talks by four honored alumni, music by a student ensemble and a showcase of student projects. Local businesses donated nearly all of the food and beverages.

The event also included the debut of “Humboldt in a Word” – a project that highlights what makes HSU special. Individuals select a single word to describe their connection to the university. More information, including a video overview, is at

The three Outstanding Students of the Year honored at the event were:

Chyna Balonick, who is majoring in Kinesiology, Pre-Physical Therapy. She was honored for her accomplishments as a scholar, volunteer, mentor, and student-athlete. She has been the recipient the past two years of the Department of Kinesiology’s Sue Grigsby Scholarship. She was a member of the Women’s Crew team for four years and has contributed volunteer service with many agencies. Her physical therapy experience includes La Canada Sports Medicine in La Canada, CA, and Saint Mary Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, both in Long Beach.

Jahnna Constance Mae Morehouse, who is majoring in Critical Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies, with a concentration in Women’s Studies. Her double minor combines Ethnic Studies and Sociology. She is a Presidential Scholar and an Associated Students Campus/Community Scholarship recipient. Her extensive volunteer, outreach and work experience includes the HSU Women’s Resource Center, the Diversity and Inclusion Office, workshop and public relations coordination, grant writing, teaching assistance, campus activism and organizing, and an internship at the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.

Nicole Umayam is a double major in French and Francophone Studies and English, with a minor in Linguistics. She has held multiple internships and teaching and tutoring positions, including in the HSU Writing Center and as an English Writing Lab consultant. She studied French at the Universitē de Quēbec ā Montrēal and pursued linguistic anthropology and special topics in British literature. As a volunteer with Youth Educational Services (YES), she assisted homeless children and served as a prison reform advocate. Her poems have appeared in Arcata’s Cultural Times.

All three students were also honored at the annual Outstanding Student Awards Ceremony on April 19. They were among dozens of students receiving special awards at that event.

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients honored at the event were:

Dean Bresciani, who has held several top posts at universities across the country and is currently the President of North Dakota State University. Bresciani credits his passion for higher education to his experience working with the university’s Humboldt Orientation Program.

Kenneth Davlin, who is president of Oscar Larson & Associates, a California -based engineering firm, and has been city engineer for five cities. He has led projects in hydroelectric, water, wastewater and coastal development all over the world. Davlin continues to support the university as a long-time director on the Advancement Foundation Board.

Chester Mathis, who was Humboldt State’s 1978 valedictorian. He is an Endowed Chair Professor of Radiology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Director of the Positron Emission Tomography Facility, at the University of Pittsburgh.

Marla Spivak, who is an internationally recognized expert on honey bee health and the Distinguished McKnight Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. Spivak was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant in 2010.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize alumni who are leaders in their fields, or for service to HSU, their community or the nation.

Faculty members recognized at the event were:

James Floss in the Department of Communication, who received this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award. The Awards Committee commended Floss for "consistent excellence of his teaching and the well documented impact James has had on his students over the past 26 years." Floss has received consistently positive teaching evaluations from students.

Terry Henkel in the Department of Biological Sciences, who received this year’s Scholar of the Year Award. Henkel was recognized for extensive academic publications and for establishing himself as a leader in fungal ecology and tropical biology. He recently received a National Science Foundation award to conduct research in Guyana’s tropical forests.

An additional reception is being held this week to recognize the faculty honorees, and each of them will be invited to present a public lecture during the upcoming academic year.

This year’s Staff Recognition Awards recipients are:

Kellie Jo Brown, Marketing & Communications; Mason Long, Desktop IT; Lewis McCrigler, Biological Sciences; Leila Moreno, Housing; Allison Oakland, Schatz Energy Research Center; Bethany Rizzardi, ITS Project Office; Julie Tucker, College of Natural Resources and Sciences; Cade Webb, ITS Specialized Apps; Colin Wingfield, Environmental Resources Engineering & Geology; and Andrea Yip, Biological Sciences.

The ten staff honorees also received special recognition at Spring Convocation.