Retired staff member Loretta Jane Metcalf, who served the students in the Educational Opportunity Program for 17 years, passed away December 1. She was 78.

Born December 15, 1939, in Philadelphia, she attended Palo Verde Community College later in life and transferred to Chico State, earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology and community services in 1982. After graduation, she worked on campus for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) for 17 years. She began her Chico State career as a temporary clerical assistant and became an admissions clerk and secretary in 1985. Her career continued evolving through the years and she held numerous other admissions-related roles, including students services professional, until her retirement in 1999.

Loretta Metcalf portrait
Metcalf served the University for 17 years.

Christopher Malone, retired associate director of EOP, first met Metcalf through EOP when she came to Chico State as a transfer student but truly got to know her when she was hired as an employee.

“During her 17-year career at the University, she touched the lives of thousands of students, most of whom came from low-income families. Her grit and motivating personality helped inspire students to put in the time needed to develop the many skills necessary to succeed in college,” he said. “I remember Loretta as an outstanding role model, mentor, colleague, and friend. She was a special woman.”

CC Carter, who retired in 2017 as director of Student Life and Leadership and the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, praised how Metcalf was a champion for “those who didn’t have a voice” and marveled at the depth of her impact.

“She fought for justice and inspired a generation of leaders,” he recalled. “She is loved by so many and touched the souls of thousands.” 

Metcalf truly was a “true-blue friend,” said retired counseling center psychologist Aldrich “Pat” Patterson. He expressed admiration for her dedication to her values and passions.

“Loretta was a principled activist who thought globally and acted locally for what she believed in,” Patterson said. “She never walked away from a good fight or gave up on a noble cause. The word that comes to mind when I reflect on her spirit is ‘feisty.’” 

Metcalf was preceded in death by her husband, Homer Metcalf, who was a sociology professor at Chico State for more than 30 years. Together, they were known for hosting annual gatherings at their 37-acre property on the Cohasset Ridge.

She is survived by her children, John, Sheila, and Patrick, and grandchildren Daniel, Isabella, Christopher, Peyton, Skylar, and Taryn.

She was laid to rest in a private ceremony. The University flag will be lowered Wednesday, February 6, in her honor.