We Made It: 2018-19 in Review
Every academic year brings us new opportunities, milestones, and challenges. What we experienced over the past year, both in the classroom and in our lives, made for an experience none of us will soon forget.
Nobody would call this past year “easy,” but we have made it through together. Our Wildcats showed their characteristic compassion, persistence, and bravery in the face of unprecedented challenges and continued to embody the joy and resilience that are the spirit of Chico State.
Let’s take a look back at some of the key moments of the 2018–19.
Creating Curious ’Cats
We kicked off 2018 with our annual series of Wildcat Welcome events designed to greet new and returning in style, including the famed “Big C” photo for the incoming class. This year’s turnout, again, was a record. This year also introduced EDxChico, an open-air teach-in featuring eight short presentations from University professors. The short talks included musings on medieval monsters, the interactions between hip hop and sustainable engineering, what we can learn from coral reefs, and understanding the physics of throwing a hammer.
“Exploring these big, important, challenging questions,” said physics professor Nick Nelson, “is a labor of joy and wonder.”
Physical Sciences Building Takes Shape
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new physical sciences building was held early October, with a ceremonial golden shovel full of dirt to officially kick off construction of the state-of-the-art, $101-million facility. By spring, no one on campus needed to peek through the chain-link fence surrounding the job site anymore—the building’s steel frame now rises above the area between Meriam Library and Big Chico Creek and is set to open in fall 2020.
Honoring a Community Member
It is no secret we also experienced a significant number of challenges over the past year. In late October, a member of the Chico community, Linda Blacksten, was found dead in front of Kendall Hall, the victim of an after-hours assault. Though she had no ties to campus, the Chico State community gathered in her memory at a community vigil the next week, sharing poems, prayers, and a moment of silence.
The Camp Fire
“I have never experienced a more difficult time in my life. At the same time, I have never been more proud of Chico State and my community than in the days, weeks, and months that followed the Camp Fire.”
—President Gayle Hutchinson
Nearly 1,000 students, faculty, and staff were evacuated or displaced by the November wildfire that raged through Paradise and its surrounding communities, and 310 lost their homes. Campus initiated an emergency closure for 15 days as Butte County experienced some of the worst air quality in the world and our community grappled with the physical and emotional effects of the fire’s devastation.
The fire’s wrath was matched only by the North State’s community spirit and Wildcats were, and continue to be, at the forefront of relief and recovery efforts. Countless campus members and alumni volunteered in the community, providing medical care, organizing donation drives, and helping at animal shelters. On campus, the University opened its doors to house first responders during the closure and initiated the Wildcats Rise Fire Recovery Fund, which raised more than $700,000 from 5,200 donors to aid more than 500 students and employees impacted by the fire. Chico State also hosted Thanksgiving Together, in partnership with World Central Kitchen, providing a holiday meal for thousands of displaced residents and emergency personnel.
’Cats Give Back
The second annual Giving Day set a high bar for a single-day fundraising event, with support from more than 2,400 Chico State alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends. Our Wildcat family gave 3,029 gifts for a total of more than $320,000, all going to 142 departments, programs, and causes that directly benefit the campus community. The featured fund in 2019 was the Chico State Fund, supporting University excellence and innovation, and it blew past its $25,000 goal to the tune of $59,525, a testament to our culture of philanthropy.
When It Rains, It Pours
In early April, a thunderstorm hammered the North State with more than 4 inches of rain in a single evening, causing flooding over parts of the region and deluging parts of campus. Despite standing water in several buildings, University staff worked through the night to keep facilities intact and open for instruction, another example of Chico State’s enduring dedication to its mission of educating our students.
Time to Choose Chico!
The annual spring event for admitted students and their guests, Choose Chico! saw a record turnout, with 1,450 prospective students and more than 2,500 of their family members and friends in attendance for a campus visit in early April. Choose Chico! included academic showcases for students to learn about their majors and meet faculty, a tour of campus and residence halls with information about securing housing, and the opportunity to meet with student support representatives. We look forward to welcoming many of these students as Wildcats this fall.
Transform Tomorrow Takes Off
In late April, the University celebrated the public launch of its first capital campaign, Transform Tomorrow, with a community celebration on Kendall Lawn featuring desserts from local vendors, dancing and music, and demonstrations from multiple campus colleges and departments. The University has set a lofty $100 million fundraising goal to invest in its people and programs, build cutting-edge facilities, and empower student success. It was announced that the campaign had already raised nearly $76 million at the time of the public launch.
As we reflect on 2018–19, there is much to celebrate. Together, we reached milestones, both academic and personal. We set and achieved new goals. We also navigated unexpected tests and engaged our resiliency and compassion. Looking toward our future, the spirit that carried us thus far will continue to drive us to even greater heights.