After 34 years of invaluable service to higher education and nearly three decades at Chico State, President Gayle E. Hutchinson announced her decision Tuesday to retire at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
“I’ve been fortunate to have the most incredible career, working to serve students across many levels of higher education. My life remains forever changed by the work I have been able to do, the colleagues I’ve had the privilege to work with, and the countless students who have inspired and guided me in my many roles,” Hutchinson said. “That said, my life is shaped by three principles: my health, family, and passion for work. While my passion for Chico State has never been greater and my love for my family remains unfettered, the time has come for me to focus on my overall well-being and to spend active, quality time with my incredible wife and life partner, Linda Allen.”
By planning to retire on June 30, 2023, Hutchinson said it gives her time to complete her commitments to campus and provides the California State University time to find the best individual to lead Chico State into the next chapter of its esteemed history.
“My dedication to this campus remains unwavering, and for the next nine months, I remain committed to our ambitious goals and critical work ahead as we advance on our path to prominence,” she said. “Serving as this University’s president has been the greatest honor of my life, and I plan to spend my remaining tenure here with the same enthusiasm and dedication that have characterized my presidency. I look forward to what else we can do together to support student success at the highest level.”
Among Hutchinson’s chief priorities in the coming months are the hiring of a new Chief Diversity Officer; continuing to improve campus police policy and practices; furthering goals within the University’s Strategic Plan; making progress on the 2020 Climate Action and Resilience Plan; continuing strengthening the Information Technology division; and laying the groundwork for Chico State’s next capital campaign. These goals, Hutchinson said, reflect the greater priorities of the campus community and a commitment to maintaining a strong foundation for the incoming president.
Interim California State University Chancellor Jolene Koester expressed gratitude for Hutchinson’s extraordinary service to Chico State and the CSU system, describing her as a visionary leader and a trailblazer.
“President Hutchinson consistently demonstrated that there are no limits to what can be achieved through intelligence, hard work and a commitment to one’s core values, uplifting and inspiring many thousands of students, faculty and staff throughout her distinguished career in higher education,” Koester said. “She is a principled leader, an innovator in academic programming and student support services, and a champion for the students and broader community she serves.”
When Hutchinson was inaugurated as the University’s 12th president in 2016, she became the first female president in Chico State’s 135-year history and the first openly gay president of the California State University system. Highlights from her tenure include:
- Leading the University through collaborative processes to develop new Strategic and Master Plans.
- The Strategic Plan unveiled the priorities of equity, diversity, and inclusion; civic and global engagement; and resilient and sustainable systems while affirming the University’s enduring commitments to academic distinction, transformative student experiences, prominent scholarship and innovation, and a culture of excellence and accountability. In the years that followed, the University would continue to gain national recognition for its high-quality and affordable education, success in advancing the social mobility of its students, and leadership within the CSU.
- The Master Plan established a vision for the physical campus through 2030, including the new building for Behavioral and Social Sciences that is currently underway, and other upgrades across campus.
- Collaboration with Academic Senate, Staff Council, and the Associated Students to formalize a Statement on Shared Governance and Consultation.
- The completion of two new academic buildings—the ARTS Building and the Science Building—creating state-of-the-art teaching, learning, and research spaces with a focus on opportunities for collaboration and a commitment to student success.
- Securing state funding for the University Farm, which was realized this semester when it was announced Chico State would receive $18.5 million to upgrade facilities and create new learning spaces.
- Overseeing a comprehensive identity refresh that transformed and unified Chico State’s narrative and visuals for the first time in the University’s history.
- In partnership with Vice President for University Advancement Ahmad Boura, leading the University’s first capital campaign, Transform Tomorrow, to completion—surpassing its goal to raise $106.6 million to support student success, empower people and programs, and build cutting-edge facilities.
- Guiding the campus through unprecedented challenges, from the Oroville Dam crisis to the Camp Fire to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as numerous other issues related to the health and safety of the campus community. In January 2022, under her leadership, Chico State was one of only five CSUs to lead the way by continuing in-person instruction.
- Growing the University’s relationship with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe and furthering the University’s commitment to Native American students. She signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mechoopda, partnered to establish a land acknowledgement, hired the first director of Tribal Relations in the CSU, and recently helped secure the transfer of the 93-acre Butte Creek Ecological Preserve from Chico State Enterprises back to the Mechoopda.
Hutchinson continues to be regarded for her advocacy for higher education and has served on multiple statewide and national boards. Today, she is the presidential liaison for the California State University Native American Initiative. She recently completed service on the NCAA Constitution Committee and for the last six years has served as a member of the NCAA Division II President’s Council and Executive Committee.
“It has been a privilege to serve under the leadership of President Hutchinson, whose dedication to academic exploration, research, and scholarships has inspired a culture of philanthropy that will transform lives for generations to come,” said Boura, who is also the CEO of the University Foundation. “Leading by example in all she does, she played a significant role in our first capital campaign and instilled in us the confidence to make an even greater impact with our next endeavor.”
Prior to becoming president, Hutchinson served for three years as provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSU Channel Islands and spent nearly 20 years in various instructional and leadership roles at Chico State. She served as dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, chairperson of the Department of Kinesiology, Academic Senate Chair, Statewide Senator, and was a member of the President’s Diversity Council. Before that time, she was a member of the Chico State faculty, teaching kinesiology with a specialty in teacher preparation.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education teacher education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a master’s from Teachers College, Columbia University in teaching analysis and curriculum development, and a doctorate of education from University of Massachusetts, Amherst in teacher education and staff development.
The CSU will soon launch a national search for Hutchinson’s successor. Under University policy, the chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, Wenda Fong, and Chancellor Koester, will select a committee comprised of campus and community stakeholders who will be publicly announced at a later date. Campus and community input will be sought in an open forum held on the Chico State campus.