New Dean of College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Dec 07, 2021

Educator Jeff Crane has been named the new dean of Humboldt State University’s College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS). Crane will start on January 6, 2022.

A scholar of history with a long career in higher education administration, Crane is excited about joining HSU at a pivotal time. Previously the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Martin’s University in Washington state, Crane was attracted to HSU’s polytechnic vision and the University’s ambitious plans to establish itself as a premier center for climate resilience and social justice.

“The arts, humanities, and social sciences play a critical role in addressing issues related to climate justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Crane. “The college [CAHSS] fosters interdisciplinary learning, helping students learn to be adaptive and innovative in a changing world.”

In his nearly six-year tenure as Saint Martin’s Dean of Arts and Sciences, Crane helped increase the number of majors in the college by 50%. His experience in curriculum development, community engagement, and fundraising are well-aligned with HSU’s plans for growth and expansion––the University will add 12 new academic programs by Fall 2023 with the polytechnic designation.

“Dr. Crane’s years of experience as a dean, coupled with his personal and professional focus on climate justice and the environment, align him well to serve HSU,” explains Jenn Capps, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Since earning his doctorate of History in 2004, Crane has developed scholarly expertise in the American environmental movement and sustainable agriculture as a form of social justice. In 2017, he helped establish Our Common Home Farms in Lacey, Washington, which donated 9,253 pounds of organic produce to the community last year. He also helped design a one-acre food farm in the City of Lacy, and is increasingly focused on scholarship and engagement on permaculture and community farming as a climate justice strategy.

“A true permaculture system is multi-faceted,” explains Crane. “It stores carbon, filters water, preserves habitat for wildlife and insects, and grows food for the community.” On his arrival to Humboldt, Crane will be actively looking for community partners to expand opportunities for engagement and education around climate justice, equity, and agriculture on the North Coast.

As a college dean, Crane also has a successful track record in securing major funding for programming related to experiential learning and internships, two key elements of the polytechnic ethos of hands-on learning. In 2020, Crane helped secure a $2.25 million grant to help match historically underrepresented students with paid internships, which can be critical to job placement after graduation. “We want students to know that they can pursue valuable career opportunities without being excluded,” says Crane.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Crane to HSU. He has a proven record of fundraising and experience successfully implementing strategies that positively impact retention and graduation rates, particularly for traditionally underrepresented students,” says Capps. She also expressed her gratitude to CAHSS Interim Dean Rosamel Benavides-Garb for his leadership over the past two years. “Dr. Benavides-Garb took on this leadership role during an especially challenging time at HSU, and I am so grateful for his valuable contributions.”

Once he arrives in Humboldt, Crane says he is excited about joining the University’s effort to build a model of 21st-century education that engages deeply with the community and tough issues facing society, while supporting students’ academic and personal success.

“I’ve been impressed by how warmly welcoming the community has been,” says Crane, who is looking forward to exploring the region’s beaches, forests, and communities by foot.