Something wild is happening at Chico State. Mystery and intrigue have captivated campus for weeks, with construction underway at the corner of Second and Chestnut streets, hiding a new campus addition and tradition.
All will be revealed during a ceremony at noon Thursday, April 19, in Wildcat Plaza on the south side of the Bell Memorial Union. The unveiling of a bronze Wildcat statue will mark by a ceremony and comments by CSU, Chico President Gayle Hutchinson and Mayor Sean Morgan, who will jointly declare April 19, 2018 as Wildcat Spirit Day.
Additionally, they will announce that the third Thursday of April will be known as Wildcat Spirit Week in perpetuity at CSU, Chico. They share a vision that all members of the Chico State campus and the Chico community will rally at this point annually in demonstration of the importance of the mutual relationship and a reinforcement of what “Wildcat Will” can achieve. Dennis Ramirez, chairman for the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, will also provide remarks and a native blessing before the Wildcat statue is unveiled.
This event marks the culmination of a multi-phase process that started in 2008 when the idea of a Wildcat statue was initiated by University students who approached Associated Students government representatives looking for a symbol of pride and unity. Mary Wallmark, program director in CSU, Chico’s Student Life and Leadership, said the addition of the bronze statue will help create a new way for future CSU, Chico students to feel at home on campus.
“On April 19, we will take a step that will impact the campus for conceivably hundreds of years in terms of the look, feel and possibly even the culture of our campus,” Wallmark said. “The unveiling of the bronze Wildcat statue is really symbolic in that we as a University are turning a major corner.”
Wallmark, who’s been at CSU, Chico for more than 20 years, acknowledged that while the University has racked up accolades annually (including regular appearances on top 10 lists in The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and Money Magazine), the campus shares aspirations for even greater success, recognition, and unity.
“This statue is really a statement of who we are, who we want to be and where we want to go from here,” Wallmark said.
Designed by Washington-based artist Matthew Gray Parker, the seven-foot-long, 1,500-pound bronze statue is a replication of the native bobcat (Lynx rufus californicus), which the student body declared as the University’s mascot in 1924. The statue’s position facing toward town is intentional.
“We lined it up so it would be looking out toward Chestnut Street, because our town and gown relationship is incredibly important,” Wallmark said.
The Wildcat statue is a gift to the University from the Associated Students, the Chico State Alumni Association, and Wildcat Athletics, with additional support from the Associated Students and the Office of the Vice President of Business and Finance, which funded the installation. The total budget for the project includes $110,000 for the artwork and $35,000 for the installation.
Those who require an accommodation in order to participate in the ceremony or who have questions about accessibility may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.