Retired staff member Maggie Pattison, who served the Associated Students for 23 years, passed away May 15. She was 89.
Born May 26, 1931, in San Luis Obispo, she married in 1952 and once her daughters became teenagers, she enrolled at Chico State and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in social welfare in 1971. That same year, Pattison was hired to work in Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) and then transitioned into the role of office manager for the Associated Students (AS). Among her many roles, she took it upon herself to instruct student officers in Robert’s Rules of Order, meeting decorum, and their authority and responsibility as elected officials.
Alumnus Bob Linscheid (Public Administration, ’76; MPA, ’78) met Pattison when he was elected student body president in 1975 and immediately considered her a mentor. Even now, he thinks of her nearly every day, as one of her many lessons taught him how to introduce himself professionally when making phone calls. He still uses her advice 45 years later.
“She was so kind and generous with her time with students. It was overwhelming sometimes to see how well she dealt with students who, at that age, ‘know it all,’” he said. “You make mistakes early on when you are an elected official, and the Associated Students student body president at Chico State had some interesting powers at that time—power of executive order and control over the student union. She was always there to help.”
Linscheid and other students often turned to Pattison for counsel and ideas, as well as insight on how to use their authority and when. It was Pattison, in fact, who encouraged him to prohibit University police officers from bringing firearms into the student union building when the California State University chancellor issued an order in 1975 that campus law enforcement would carry guns. Through Pattison’s mentorship on that issue and many others, she empowered students to make their own mark on campus, he said.
Alumna Jane Dolan (Communication Studies, ’73), who served as AS president from 1972–73 and then three years as CAVE director, said that there are legions of AS alumni who share fond memories of Pattison and feel grateful to have known and worked with her.
“She was the fulcrum for decades of student government. She deftly navigated the multiple personalities, needs, hopes, energy, and ideas of every changing array of students,” Dolan said. “She was always positive, kind, supportive, optimistic, loyal, vibrant, and simply lovely.”
When Pattison retired in 1994, the AS board room, which has been in the same location of the Bell Memorial Union since 1969, was dedicated as the Maggie Pattison Board Room to honor her 23 years of dedicated service—both professional and personal—to the AS. Her legacy also lives on through the Maggie and Marsha Awards, given by the Gender and Sexuality Equity Coalition since the mid-90s, and another annual award for Outstanding Service to Student Government that carries her name.
“As the office manager for the AS Government, Maggie was a staple and stable force, and friend, for the many student leaders throughout the Associated Students’ history in the later part of the 70s, 80s, and early 90s,” said Jon Slaughter, director of AS Programs and Government Affairs. “She indelibly touched the lives of numerous student leaders she helped guide throughout her tenure.”
Pattison is survived by daughters Nancy Chew and Liann Pattison Cooper, and grandchildren Ben Chew, Katherine Chew, Sarah Chew, and Jane Clara Cooper.
Her family requests any memorial contributions in her name be designated to the Maggie Pattison Award, so that she can continue to inspire the next generation of student leaders.
The University flag will be lowered Wednesday, June 23, in her memory.