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Chico State

Leading with a Listening Ear and an Open Door

Peter Kittle poses in front of a chalkboard.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

This story is one in a series spotlighting eight exceptional faculty members who were recognized with 2023–24 Outstanding Faculty Awards, selected by the University’s Faculty Recognition and Support Committee.

These awards—among the highest honors at Chico State—celebrate faculty excellence in the categories of Outstanding Professor, Teacher, Academic Advisor, Research Mentor, Faculty Service, Lecturer, Lecturer in Bringing the Profession to the Classroom, and Early Career Faculty. 

Outstanding Faculty Leader Award: Peter Kittle

Doctor Peter Kittle became chair of the Department of English in 2018. The Camp Fire and COVID pandemic that followed made it a tempting time to just hunker down and hang on. Instead, Professor Kittle led proactively, a practice he has continued, resulting in what his colleagues describe as a more “rigorous, rewarding, and inclusive space for students, faculty, and staff.” For these efforts and more, Kittle is the winner of Chico State’s inaugural Outstanding Faculty Leader Award, funded by the University Foundation Board of Governors.

The English department staff credits Kittle with several accomplishments, mostly centered around his commitment to communication. He consistently seeks input from students and faculty. His door is open. He created a Discord channel for information and formal community building between faculty and students. His email is active, and not just his inbox. Kittle is known to send encouraging notes to students and informative email updates to staff on Mondays. 

He is also willing to take bold action. Under his leadership, the English department revised the English major to better serve the needs of students and reflect the staff’s expertise. He also secured vital funding to combat budget cuts, protecting the department’s student mentoring positions and providing programming that aids in recruiting and retaining students.

“I try to operate from a viewpoint of respect for everyone I encounter,” Kittle said. “Chico State’s students are smart and come to us with a plethora of lived experiences that we can all learn from. Our faculty and staff work tirelessly to make this institution thrive, and I try to recognize and amplify their contributions when I can. I am very lucky to have caring, brilliant colleagues who make my job a pleasure.”

Kittle also leads by example, serving as chair of the University’s Enrollment Management Advisory Committee since 2021, as an executive board member of the California Writing Project (since 2018), and as a grant proposal reviewer for the Book Love Foundation (since 2019). He is also a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, Conference on English Education, National Writing Project, and California State University English Council. His other on-campus committee commitments include University Chairs Executive Council, Liberal Studies Curriculum Committee, College of Humanities and Fine Arts Chairs Council, English Department Personnel Committee, and English Education Committee.

Kittle earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Oregon State University in 1987; a master’s degree in English from the University of Oregon in 1995; and his Ph. D. in English from the University of Oregon in 1998.