Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

Joe Wills


Public Affairs and Publications

Joe Wills served as director of Public Affairs and Publications, where he was the face of the University from 1997 until retirement in 2016. He served as primary University spokesperson with the media and community and coordinated messaging of CSU system communications with the Chancellor’s Office. Serving under three presidents and two interim presidents, Wills was a constant presence—the person to talk on camera or to be interviewed by reporters about University issues. He always handled it with a calm professionalism and appreciated the public’s “right to know.” Wills was responsible for publicizing events, promoting University achievements, and working with the press.

Wills led or helped coordinate efforts that earned many awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), an international organization for advancement professionals. Among the work cited for distinction were magazine writing, online newsletters, social media, and marketing. The campus community came together to cope in the most difficult of times, and Wills played a significant role in making that happen. Among his accomplishments were organizing a post-9/11 memorial on campus and coordinating emergency communications on behalf of Humboldt State following the tragic I-5 bus crash near Orland.

Wills has been passionate about working on diversity issues for years with gratifying results. He played an instrumental role in initiating institutional groups that support and promote a diverse campus, and cofounded Building Bridges, which advocated for respect and understanding for all people. Wills served on the University Diversity Council and received the “Behind the Scenes Award” at the annual Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion Awards event. He represented Public Affairs, University Advancement, and the University on many committees, work groups, and task forces and was actively involved with numerous community organizations, elected officials, and business leaders in Chico and the North State.

Wills earned his BA in communication from Hampshire College, MA in communication from University of the Pacific, MS in psychology from Chico State, and is now a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Portrait of Joe Wills