It’s hard to believe that another academic year is drawing to a close. Together, we have celebrated achievements of our students, faculty, and staff and mourned the loss of members of our community. This spring semester was especially arduous, yet we persevered as community and remained focused on providing our students with an excellent education as they prepare for what the future holds.

This week, we conclude the academic year by graduating 3,800 undergraduates and 300 master’s degree candidates over seven commencement ceremonies and celebrate with our students at a number of graduation receptions, including a celebration honoring our Native American students. As you prepare for the summer season, take time to reflect on achievements and challenges of the soon-to-be academic year past.

It takes each and every one of us to serve students. I am grateful to the entire campus community for your commitment and tireless efforts. Here are highlights and achievements from the past four months:

National accolades: This spring, Forbes magazine named the University to its list of the nation’s 300 “Best Value Colleges,” landing at No. 89. In terms of public schools, Chico State placed 45th nationally. Money magazine and Washington Monthly named the University to lists of “Best Colleges for Your Money 2017” and “Best Bang for Your Buck,” respectively.

Tribal relations director: The University welcomed Rachel McBride-Praetorius as its first director of tribal relations. Rachel has already begun to play a vital role enriching our relationships with local tribal communities. She is particularly proud of the community’s Native American Graduation Celebration, which recognized 36 local graduates—10 of them from Chico State—representing 18 different tribal affiliations. This event has not taken place in 19 years and we were excited to see it return this week.

Courageous conversations: The Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s programFostering the Common Unity within Community” drew more than 220 people to participate in an interactive opportunity to explore building a more respectful and supportive Chico State campus and community. It was powerful to walk around the room and read a variety of responses, and it was evident that participants want the same thing: to build a community that embraces safety and compassion.

College of Business accreditation: The College of Business received a prestigious, five-year re-accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a distinction belonging to fewer than 15 percent of all business schools in the world.

Basic Needs Initiative: Our efforts to combat food and housing insecurity on campus have flourished under the direction of Basic Needs Coordinator Joe Picard, who oversaw the move of the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry into its new home in the Student Services Center. The pantry is serving an average of 100 students a day, has established an intake process, expanded services to provide emergency grants and housing assistance, and now provides assistance with applications for CalFresh outreach funding in partnership with the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC). CHC is leading the way across the state with collegiate CalFresh outreach efforts, expanding to 19 CSUs, 4 University of California campuses, and 22 community colleges under its new contract that will take effect in October.

Student philanthropy: Our Student Philanthropy Council has just completed the most successful year of student philanthropy in history and continues its excellent work. More than 1,800 students made gifts for a total of more than $33,000. The group selected the Basic Needs Initiative as its primary beneficiary and presented the project with more than $24,000 earlier this month.

Transforming Tomorrow: University Advancement under the leadership of Vice President Ahmad Boura is making exceptional progress creating a culture of philanthropy. Since June, more than 13,500 donors have contributed more than $9.5 million. Additionally, Transform Tomorrow |The Campaign for Chico State recently surpassed the $60 million mark toward our goal of $100 million.

Community art: Public murals professor J. Pouwels and his students are bringing new works of art to community spaces across the North State, including the Corning and Los Molinos libraries and downtown Chico. The public murals course was offered this spring for the first time and it has been a fantastic addition to Chico State’s arts program.

Anthropology recognition: Retired anthropology professor P. Willey received the T. Dale Steward Award for his lifetime accomplishments and contribution in forensic anthropology at the American Academy of Forensics Scientists 70th annual meeting in February. At the same meeting, faculty member Eric Bartelink won the Ellis R. Kerley Award for the best paper in the anthropology section. Eric also was nominated and accepted to the board of directors for the AAFS as the anthropology section representative.

Nobel laureate visits: Physics Nobel Laureate William Phillips dazzled campus with a public presentation during a three-day visit in April. Students, community members, faculty, and staff attended his discussion of ultra-cold science. Our Physics program will benefit for years to come from his donations of state-of-the art technology for our ultra-cold laboratory, “the coolest place on campus.”

Wildcat statue: We unveiled our majestic new symbol of school spirit in the Bell Memorial Union plaza, a touchstone for today’s Wildcats and generations to come. At the dedication celebration, we also proclaimed Wildcat Spirit Day to be held annually on the third Thursday in April.

Butte County Promise: A partnership between Chico State, Butte College, the Butte County Office of Education, Chico Unified School District, and Advance North State, the Butte County Promise is a pledge to young people in our service region that we will work with area educators and industry leaders to do all we can to prepare them for success beyond high school. What is extraordinary about this program is that every segment of our educational community came together to coordinate educational efforts—from preschool through college.

Naming spaces: Our alumni and friends have been generous in creative ways in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. We are so very proud to acknowledge Distinguished Alumna Missy McArthur (English, ’72) for her generosity, for which we have named the Missy McArthur Lobby, (outside the Zingg Recital Hall). After visiting the lobby, go up to the second floor, and be astounded by three incredible paintings and a serigraph by noted African American artist William Tolliver. Glen O. Toney (Philosophy, ’66) and Virginia Toney gifted the paintings, installing their legacy at Chico State. Last, but certainly not least, the legacy of art professor Jack Windsor is now a permanent part of the fabric of our campus, thanks to the generosity of Carol Windsor and Jim Wells. The Jack Windsor Ceramics Studio honors Carol’s father, who founded the ceramics program and taught on campus for 38 years.

Softball title: The Chico State softball team enters the NCAA Championship Tournament Super Regional this weekend ranked No. 2 in the nation and on a 28-game winning streak that has raised its record to 53-3! The Wildcats won the CCAA’s regular season and postseason tournament titles. The team plays this afternoon against Dixie State University in Saint George, Utah, for a spot in the College World Series.

Also aiming for World Series: The Chico State baseball team advanced to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the 18th time in 23 years and is playing for a spot in the College World Series. The tournament, which begins today, is hosted by Azusa Pacific.

Fastest in the nation: 14 Chico State track and field athletes are headed to the National Championships next week, including seven-time All-American Kyle Medina, who boasts the fastest steeplechase time in the nation.

National rugby champs: The Chico State women’s rugby club is the Division I national champion after beating the University of Central Florida. Senior Darby McFall was named Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference Most Outstanding Player of the Year.

Sustainability gold: Led by the Institute for Sustainable Development, Chico State has been awarded a STARS gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The criteria include academic curriculum and research, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

More scholarships: The total number of scholarship recipients increased by 66 over the past award year. The 2017-18 totals for each scholarship category were as follows: 252 athletic scholarships (institutional); 886 University Foundation scholarships (institutional); 104 other institutional scholarships; and 1,254 private external scholarships. The total value of scholarships awarded by the University is $2.58 million.

Life of FFA leader: Agricultural education major Breanna Holbert was elected this year to serve as president of the National Future Farmers of America. She shared this report of her efforts this spring: “My first few months have been filled with beautiful memories and exceptional people. I have traveled … to Japan to explore international agriculture and culture and America’s place in the world. I have traveled to more than 20 states, from the warm Carolinas to the blistering cold of Minnesota, representing agricultural education at leadership conventions, workshops, and camps, and giving keynote speeches in front of crowds of thousands to a classroom of 12. … I’m proud of my affiliation with Chico State, because the value of diversity and inclusion have been rooted there and continue to be a vision I strive for in every student of our organization.”

Engineering excellence: In a competition that challenges student teams to come up with solutions to actual past, current, or future construction problems in less than 24 hours, Chico State scored wins in three categories. Pitted against 1,000 students from more than 40 universities, including UC Berkeley, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and San Diego State, Chico’s construction management teams won first place in both the heavy civil and commercial categories, and second place in mechanical.

Looking forward, Siskiyou Hall is scheduled to be demolished this summer to make way for the new science building, a state-of-the-art facility that will advance Chico State’s role as a leader within the North State and across the 23-campus CSU system. A formal ground breaking is planned for fall.

Also in fall, our University’s reaccreditation work will come to fruition with the offsite review of our institutional self-study in December, followed by the WASC reaccreditation team campus visit in March 2019. Under the leadership of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Debra Larson and Vice Provost for Academic Programs Daniel Grassian, the campus has made tremendous progress to produce a nearly complete version of our institutional self-study that was shared with campus this spring. Online WASC dashboards have been introduced and feedback collected. I commend the team that worked so diligently to prepare us for a successful WASC review. Together, we WASC!

Aligning with our WASC work is the development of the University’s Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan. We will leverage the work done in our WASC self-study along with the campus climate surveys and other feedback to help us set direction with these two key guiding documents. We look forward to engaging the campus community in vision- and goal-setting conversations in the fall. All three of these efforts will help us prioritize use of campus resources moving forward.

Thank you again for all you do for our campus. I wish you an enjoyable and productive summer.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Gayle Hutchinson