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Chico State

President’s Column: Chico State is Strong and Resilient

President's Perez sits with his back to the camera, wearing a red jacket with 'Chico State' written in bold white letters.
(Matt Bates/University Photographer)

I get asked regularly about Chico State’s future and how projected state budget deficits may impact the University. My answer is always the same: Chico State is a strong university with wonderful, resilient people and we will weather any short-term storm. Yes, budgets are tight in public higher education, but with strategic, well-aligned decision-making we work toward a bright future.  

At the beginning of the fall 2023 semester, I shared the good news that Chico State enrollment was slightly up, which reversed a five-year downward trend. Now, as we head into the spring, a time when many high school seniors and community college transfers will decide where they want to continue their education next fall, I’m happy to report our momentum remains pointed in the right direction. 

Applications and intents to enroll are up over this time last year. We are working hard to secure as many students as possible and look forward to our annual Choose Chico event where every admitted prospect will have a chance to come to town, meet our faculty and staff, get to know the community, and ultimately commit to Chico State.  

Yemaya Perkins, Angelica Bautista, Marco Castaneda, and Nate Ford II (left to right) share about Rec Sports as prospective students are welcomed to campus. Photo: Jason Halley / University Photographer

Faculty and staff have worked hard to build our enrollment—making calls to students and prospective students, reworking curriculum, and counseling and advising Wildcats to support a healthy and vibrant student experience. We could not do this without everyone’s strong commitment. We have been aggressive in enrollment marketing and are making inroads in the Bay Area and Southern California to reach our enrollment targets and meet the CSU’s enrollment quota for Chico State. Have you seen our ads at Sacramento International Airport? Don’t forget to stop for a selfie! 

While all this is going on, our facilities continue to evolve to meet the needs of current and future students. Later this year, we’ll officially open the new College of BSS building. The new 94,000-square-foot building will be between the Bidwell Bowl and Children’s Park. I expect it will completely revitalize the east side of campus and provide the perfect bookend to the new science building we opened in 2021. Our next major project—replacing the Facilities Management and Services administration building with the new University Services building— is already underway and scheduled for completion next year. And we aren’t stopping there. The University Farm will break ground on a new Agricultural Learning and Training Center in May. 

We’re grateful to the CSU and the state for their commitment to Chico State, but not surprised. After all, this University is the educational hub of the North State. Since I became president last July, I’ve toured and met with presidents at community colleges in our 12-county service region, and together we will be strengthening our in-region students’ pathways to higher education. We want every K–14 student in the North State to know that Chico State is a great opportunity, and our doors are always open for them.  

Chico State has been around for 137 years and I’m confident we have everything in place to be around for 137 more. As one of the only destination campuses in a true college town, we hold a unique place in the CSU system. The University, like the community of Chico, is resilient and vibrant, navigating the challenges of budget constraints and embodying a commitment to its students’ success. The collective efforts of faculty, staff, and the broader community ensure that Chico State is here to stay.