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Chico State

Reflections on Retirement

President Hutchinson addresses an enthusiastic crowd with arms outstretched.
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

At the end of this semester, I step down as president of Chico State and retire from the University I truly adore. In just writing that sentence, I get a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and my heart stands still. It’s astounding to me to think that 30 years at Chico State and seven as president have passed in what seems like a blink of an eye.

Recently, I found myself slowing my walks about campus as if to slow time. I’m deliberately stamping my memory with every springtime celebration of students, faculty, staff, and alumni knowing full well that each is my last as the leader-in-charge. Trying to write this column has been an emotional process as I struggle to find the right words to capture the gratitude and appreciation I have for all of you and all we have achieved together in the name of student success. 

What I will remember most are student accounts of their time at Chico State. How what they learned improved their lives and shaped their careers. How the relationships they developed with faculty, staff, and students during their time on campus were forged into lasting friendships.

And I will remember the transformative power of a Chico State education—on campus and around the globe—as students and alumni demonstrate their incredible creativity, expertise, and passion to improve their corner of the world.

Some of my most treasured interactions have been with alumni recounting their time on campus. For instance, I recently attended a sporting event in the Bay Area with a reception for University friends and alumni. Several introduced themselves, and one presented a handful of old photographs of the time they spent at Chico State. We reminisced together for a long time. Their stories and laughter were contagious and filled with adoration for their alma mater.

This interaction was symbolic of hundreds that I’ve had during my time here, and captures the Wildcat Pride felt by so many. It is THAT Wildcat pride and spirit I will treasure forever. 

What I will miss the most are the daily interactions with the heart and soul of Chico State—the faculty and staff who give their all to provide students with the best education and educational experience possible. I will miss deeply the culture of caring that defines us, and the do and dare spirit that has been part of us for more than 135 years.

Finally, I leave knowing that together we accomplished a great deal of meaningful and impactful initiatives and tasks during my presidency, and we did it through some of the toughest of times seen in generations. I’m filled with Wildcat Pride and will be watching with anticipation as all of you together achieve greater prominence in the future.

Go Wildcats!