California State University, Chico

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California State University, Chico
CSU Chico seal.svg
Former names
Northern Branch State Normal School of California (1887–1921)
Chico State Teachers College (1921–35)
Chico State College (1935–72)
MottoArs Probat Artificem (Latin)
Motto in English
"Art is the test of the artisan."[1]
Endowment$61.0 million (2017)[2]
PresidentGayle Hutchinson
ProvostDebra Larson
Academic staff
977 (Fall 2016)[3]
Administrative staff
1,012 (Fall 2016)[3]
Students17,557 (Fall 2016)[4]
Undergraduates16,448 (Fall 2016)[4]
Postgraduates1,109 (Fall 2016)[4]
Location, ,
CampusSmall/Medium City[5]
Central Campus: 119 acres (48 ha)
Total: 3,249 acres (1,315 ha)
ColorsRed and white
AthleticsNCAA Division IICCAA
NicknameWildcats [3]
AffiliationsCalifornia State University system
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
MascotWillie the Wildcat
CSU, Chico logo.svg

California State University, Chico (also known as CSU Chico or Chico State), is the second oldest campus in the 23-campus California State University system. It is located in Chico, California, about 90 miles (140 km) north of Sacramento. As of the Fall 2016 semester, the university had a total enrollment of 17,557 students.[6] The university offers 126 types of bachelor's degrees, 35 types of master's degrees, and four types of teaching credentials. The university does not confer doctoral degrees.[7][8]


On March 12, 1887, a legislative act was enacted to create the Northern Branch of the California State Normal School. Less than a month later, Chico was chosen as the location. On June 24, 1887, General John Bidwell donated 8 acres (3.2 ha) of land from his cherry orchard. Then on July 4, 1888, the first cornerstone was laid. On September 3, 1889, doors opened for the 90 enrolled students. The library opened on January 11, 1890 with 350 books. On June 20, 1891 the first graduation took place, a class of 15.

In 1910, Annie Kennedy Bidwell donated an additional 2 acres (0.81 ha) of land to be used for work with elementary agriculture. The next year Mrs. Bidwell donated an orange orchard lot 55 × 440 feet (130 m) as the children's playground, which is connected to the Training School.[9] Twenty years later in 1921, legislation was enacted to change the school's name to Chico State Teacher's College. In 1922, Chico State Teacher's College added a junior college curriculum and awarded a certificate after two years. Also in 1922, Bidwell Mansion was turned into a women's dormitory, Bidwell Hall. In 1923 the first college paper, The Collegian, was published. In 1924, the state Board of Education allowed the school to grant baccalaureate degrees. Also in 1924, the wildcat was chosen as the mascot. In 1925 the alumni organization was founded. In 1927 a fire destroyed the Normal Building. That same year a gym was built on the grounds of Bidwell Mansion. In 1929, the cornerstone for the new administration building was laid on top of Normal Building's original cornerstone. In 1929 the student bookstore was established.

Chico State campus in the spring

In 1935, Bidwell Hall was turned into a recreation and student center - the first student union. Also in 1935 a legislative act changed the college name from Chico State Teachers College to Chico State College. In 1937 evening classes started on campus and athletic fields were purchased from the Chico Board of Education. In 1939, chimes were installed in library tower. Sororities held a fund drive to raise $600 for them. In 1940 the college offered civilian pilot classes.

In 1948, dorms for 500 male students were set up on west side of Warner Street. The buildings were built during World War II and were used as bachelor quarters for a Marine Hospital in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They were brought to Chico State in sections and reconstructed in the spring of 1948. The two-story barrack-like structures had 36 rooms, each occupied by 4 students. North Hall later became a female dormitory. The speech and debate team was founded by Herbert Rae, Speech & Drama Department Chair.

In 1950, California's governor allowed state colleges to grant Master of Arts degrees. In 1951 the college reorganized from 18 departments into seven divisions with chairmen. Then in 1956 a new flagpost and sign in front of Kendall Hall was donated by the class of 1956. In the following year, 1957, a new cafeteria was built and the rose gardens were planted. In 1958 the first "telecourse" was taught, Psychology 51.

KCSC, a student-run radio station, launched, broadcasting old-time radio dramas on the campus public address system in 1951.

In 1972, Chico State College became California State University, Chico as a result of legislation passed in 1971.

In 1975, broadcasts of classes through closed circuit TV were used for the first time by residents in Oroville, Marysville and Colusa. Also in 1975, The Orion, the campus student newspaper, published its first issue. In 1977, the other campus paper, The Wildcat, changed its name to Chico News and Review and moved off campus to become an independent publication. In 1978 bike riding was restricted on campus.

Chico State's library was renamed in 1981 for father and son Morrison E. Meriam, professor of psychology from 1902 to 1934, and Theodore "Ted" Meriam, community leader, alumnus, and friend of the University, a member of the California State University Board of Trustees from 1961 to 1971, and its chair from 1968 to 1969.[10]

In 1987, Chico State was ranked as a party school by Playboy.[11] Chico State is no longer included on Playboy's list of party schools.[12]

CSU Chico opened its first sub-campus in Redding, affiliated with Shasta College, in 2007.

In 2005, student Matt Carrington was hazed to death at the Chi Tau house, which had previously been expelled from the university in 2001 due to violations.[13] Carrington died as a result of water intoxication during a hazing session involving the victim being forced to exercise and drink large quantities of water.

In 2010, the President of the Associated Student body, Joseph Igbineweka, was stabbed in a racially motivated attack.[14]

In 2011, CSU, Chico received a Civic Learning Initiative Grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation extend its efforts to establish civic engagement as a key component of students' academic success.[15]


Fall Freshman Statistics[16][17]

2013 2012 2011 2010
Freshman Applicants 21,159 19,709 17,221 15,255 14,361
Admits 12,905 12,328 11,286 8,935
% Admitted 65.4 71.5 73.9 62.2
Enrolled 2,338 2,714 2,429 1,899
GPA 3.27 3.21 3.22 3.28
ACT Avg 21.3 21.3 21.6 22
SAT Composite 1013 1020 1016 1034
SAT out of 1600

The university has more than 50 Departments[18] and offers more than 150 undergraduate degrees.[19] It is organized into seven colleges and four schools.


  • College of Agriculture
  • College of Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Communication & Education
  • College of Engineering, Computer Science, & Construction Management
  • College of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • College of Natural Sciences


  • School of Communication
  • School of Education
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Social Work

The school's library, the Meriam Library, has several special collections of Native American and Californian history.[20]


University rankings
Forbes[21] 342
U.S. News & World Report[22] 37
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[23] 30

USNWR departmental rankings[24]

Fine Arts 173
Speech–Language Pathology 183


The California State University, Chico campus consists of a 119-acre (48 ha) main campus and a 800-acre (320 ha) university farm.[25]

Early construction[edit]

The construction of the normal school building was begun in September, 1887. It was a large brick building, consisting of three stories and full basement. It was of Romanesque design with Elizabethan gables and artificial stone trimmings. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1927. The current administration building Kendall Hall was built on the site of the normal school in 1929.[26]

Chico State's Kendall (Administration) Hall

Colusa Hall, completed in 1921 is the oldest building on campus. It was used for purposes related to the industrial arts, but now the building is now used as a conference and public events facility.[27]


The Campus Arboretum is located across the campus of California State University, Chico along Big Chico Creek.

Nearby Bidwell Park includes 29 acres (117,000 m²) of a former arboretum, now run somewhat wild, which contains trees such as English oaks, hawthorn, Cherry Plum, bay laurel, cork oak, ponderosa, aleppo, and Monterey pines, willow, mulberry, linden, maple, catalpa, pine, and eucalyptus, collected from around the world.[28]

Residence halls[edit]

Currently, the university can accommodate 2,150[29] or approximately 13% of the student body in seven on-campus residential halls. Sutter, Whitney, Shasta and Lassen halls are on the main campus, while Esken, Mechoopda and Konkow are near the athletic fields about a block and a half away from the main campus. Whitney, Shasta and Lassen are the names of major mountains in Northern California, and the others are named after Native American tribes which used to inhabit the area. Most buildings that make up the campus are named after counties in California. University Village or "UV" is a university-owned dorm about a mile off campus. The university opened its newest dorm, Sutter Hall, for the Fall 2010 semester. It is located between Whitney and Shasta and Lassen halls. For much of the Fall 2010 semester, Sutter Hall's dining area remained closed. However, it opened in the Spring 2011 semester, featuring new dining options for students.

Meriam library[edit]

Meriam Library started out as an unnamed library in 1887, housed in what was then known as Chico State Normal School. In 1927, the Normal School building and its library burned down in a fire. The library found a new home in 1933 when a new building, Trinity Hall, was constructed. In 1959, Chico State College Library was built. The library was expanded and renamed to the "Learning Activities Resource Center" (LARC) in 1975. It was in 1985 when the library gained another expansion and its current name, Meriam Library. This name was dedicated after the family of Ted Meriam. A fourth floor of the library was constructed in 1985.[30]

Student life[edit]

Associated Students, Chico[edit]

Chico State campus: Laxson Auditorium

Associated Students, Chico is the student government at California State University, Chico. Associated Students, Chico owns and operates several student services on-campus including all vending machines, and foodservices, as well as the campus bookstore. The students of CSU, Chico also own their own student union building named the Bell Memorial Union which houses the Marketplace Cafe, the Chico State Wildcat Store, and the student government offices. Student officers are elected annually from among and by the students. Students are assessed a mandatory Activity Fee at registration which funds the student government and other programs.

The AS is generally divided into three areas, each the responsibility of one of three Associated Students standing committees. The AS' role as a government is manifested in the Government Affairs Committee. The student union is administered under the original authority of the Bell Memorial Union Committee. The administration of the businesses is under the original authority of the Business Committee. All of these areas are under the ultimate authority of the AS Board of Directors.

Office of Student Life and Leadership[edit]

Student Life and Leadership, formally the Student Activities Office, strives to create an environment in which all students and student organizations are encouraged and aided in the development of positive social, cultural, intellectual, recreational, and leadership programs and activities. The Student Life and Leadership staff supports programming which promotes learning, personal growth, self-governance, social responsibility, and understanding.[31] The office of Student Life and Leadership incorporates four programs: Student Organizations and Leadership Education (SOLE), Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (FSA), Rec Sports, and the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC).

Greek life[edit]

As of May 2017 Chico State has 26 fraternities and sororities, making up approximately 12 percent of the student population.[32]

The Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (FSA) program embodies three Greek governed councils: the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Multicultural Greek Council, and the Panhellenic Council.

Fraternities in the IFC include Alpha Sigma Phi, Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Tau, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Nu and Sigma Pi. The Panhellenic Council includes Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta and Sigma Kappa. The Multicultural Greek Council includes Delta Xi Phi, Lambda Theta Nu, Lambda Sigma Gamma, Sigma Omega Phi, Upsilon Kappa Delta, Epsilon Sigma Rho and Nu Alpha Kappa.[33]


Demographics of Student Body Fall 2016[25]
Black/African American 2.4%
Asian 5.6%
White 44%
Hispanic/Latino 30.1%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 0.6%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.2%
Nonresident Alien 3.9%
Two or More Ethnicities 5.2%
Decline to State 7.9%

Male to Female Percentage: Male 46% - Female 54%[25]

Student media[edit]

KCSC Radio was founded in 1951. The university's student-run weekly newspaper, The Orion first began publishing in 1975.[34] In 1989, The Orion won the National Pacemaker Award, the first of nine times the paper has won the top prize in college journalism. In 2009, The Orion won the National Pacemaker Award for the 11th time at the College Media Convention.[citation needed]

In 1997 Wild Oak Music Group, an independent record company, was founded and is run by the Music Industry students within the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.


The university's athletic teams are known as the Chico State Wildcats. The school sponsors soccer, basketball, cross country, golf, and track and field for both men and women. The school sponsors softball and volleyball for women, and baseball for men. The school's athletic director is Anita Barker. The school competes in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.[35] Since 1998, Chico State's athletic teams have won 99 NCAA Championship berths, 40 CCAA titles, 24 West Region titles, and 15 NCAA national titles.[36] The Wildcats softball team won the first AIAW Division III national championship in 1980, led by pitcher Kathy Arendsen.[37]


The Chico State Motto, "Today decides tomorrow"

CSU, Chico has received a number of honors for its leadership role in sustainability[38] and environmental awareness and education. CSU, Chico's Green Campus Program won the Best Practices award for Student Energy Efficiency in the CSU in April 2008. In 2007, the University was awarded the Grand Prize by the National Wildlife Federation for efforts to reduce global warming.[39]

The University was ranked on a list of 15 colleges and universities around the world cited for their leadership in sustainability and environmental programs.[40] Grist Magazine, on online environmental publication, placed CSU, Chico on its list of “15 Green Colleges and Universities.”[41] The DailyGreen, an environmental website, has featured CSU, Chico in a list of 10 top colleges and universities that includes Harvard University, Duke University, Middlebury College and Oberlin College.[42]

Chico Professor Jeff Price, shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,[43] and is also Senior Fellow for Climate Change and Biodiversity at the United Nations Environment Program – World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC).

CSU, Chico University Printing Services has been awarded Forest Stewardship Council chain-of-custody certification by Scientific Certification Systems (certificate number SCS-COC-001517), supporting CSU, Chico's campuswide commitment to sustainability. CSU, Chico is one of the first universities in the country to receive this certification.

CSU, Chico's director of the Institute for Sustainable Development is Dr. Jim Pushnik.[44] Complete information on the University's involvement in sustainable issues is listed on the Sustainable News Web site.

Chico State made The Princeton Review’s 2011 "Guide to Green Colleges," honoring campuses that "demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation." [45]

Noted people[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Name Known for Relationship to Chico
Annette Abbott Adams First female Assistant Attorney General of the United States
Big Poppa E Professional slam poet Attended 1994-2000 (Journalism)
Nelson Briles Former Major League Baseball player
Donald J. Butz United States Air Force major general
Don Carlsen Former NFL referee retired 2012
Doug Chapman Actor BA, 1994
Raymond Carver Author
Clay Dalrymple Former Major League Baseball player
Mark Davis (American football) Owner Oakland Raiders
Amanda Detmer Actress
Clair Engle United States Senator BA, 1930
Horace Dove-Edwin Olympian MA in exercise science, 1999
Ken Grossman Co-founder Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Brandon Harkins Professional golfer
Breanna Holbert National FFA President 2017-2018 Currently attending
Joseph Hilbe Statistician and philosopher BA in Philosophy
Dominik Jakubek Goalkeeper for Major League Soccer BA Liberal Studies 2009
Troy Johnson Food critic, TV judge of Food Network shows BA Speech Communications and Poetry 1997
Tom Jones Assistant to head coach Oakland Raiders BA Criminal Justice 2005
Mat Kearney Columbia recording artist Attended Chico State for 2 years
Adnan Khashoggi Saudi businessman
Sandra Lerner Co-founder of Cisco Systems BA Political Science 1975
Michael Messner Sociologist, Professor at the University of Southern California BA, 1974; MA, 1976
Bob Mulholland Political strategist
Troy Neiman Baseball player
Matt Olmstead Writer and television producer
Kathleen O'Neal Gear Historian and archaeologist BA and MA
Maureen O'Toole Olympic silver medalist
Michael Polenske Entrepreneur & vintner Bachelors in Finance[46]
Lubna al Qasimi Minister for Economy and Planning of the United Arab Emirates BS in Computer Science
Ed Rollins Political strategist BA, 1968
Thom Ross Artist degree in fine arts, 1974
Gene Scott Ordained minister and religious broadcaster BA and MA
Carolyn Shoemaker Astronomer
Dale Thayer Major League Baseball player
Mark Thoma Economist BA, 1980
Mike Thompson Member of the United States Congress
Mark Ulriksen Painter
Johannes van Overbeek Race car driver
Patrick Vaughan Historian
Bill Wattenburg Radio host, author, inventor
Chris Wondolowski Forward for Major League Soccer
Don Young Member of the United States Congress BA, 1958


Name Known for Relationship to Chico
John Gardner Author Professor of English
Michael Gillis Historian Lecturer in history
Janja Lalich Sociologist Professor of Sociology
Harold Lang Dancer and actor Professor of dance, 1970–1985
Peveril Meigs Geographer Professor of geography, 1929–1942
Nicholas Nagy-Talavera Historian Professor of History, 1967–1991
Michael Perelman Author Professor of Economics
Sarah M. Pike Author Professor of Comparative Religion and Humanities
Jeff Price Shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize[43] Professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Ivan Sviták Philosopher, Critic, Poet Professor of Philosophy, 1970–1990

University presidents[edit]

  • Edward Timothy Pierce, 1889–1893
  • Robert F. Pennell, 1893–1897
  • Carleton M. Ritter, 1897–1899
  • Charles C. Van Liew, 1899–1910
  • Allison Ware, 1910–1917
  • Elmer Isaiah Miller, 1910, 1917–1918
  • Charles Osenbaugh, 1918–1930
  • Clarence Knight Studley, 1930–1931
  • Rudolph D. Lindquist, 1931
  • Aymer Jay Hamilton, 1931–1950
  • George Glenn Kendall, 1950–1966
  • Robert Eugene Hill, 1966–1970
  • Lew Dwight Oliver, 1970–1971
  • Stanford Cazier, 1971–1979
  • Robert L. Fredenburg, 1979–1980
  • Robin Wilson, 1980–1993
  • Manuel A. Esteban, 1993–2003
  • Scott McNall, 2003–2004
  • Paul Zingg, 2004-2016
  • Gayle E. Hutchinson, 2016–present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CSU, Chico 2009-2011 Catalog". Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  2. ^ As of June 30, 2017. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2016 to FY 2017" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  3. ^ a b c "Chico Facts - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Total Enrollment by Sex and Student Level, Fall 2016". The California State University. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  5. ^ "CSUMentor - Explore Campuses - Comparative View". Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  6. ^ "Chico Facts - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  7. ^ "CSU Degrees". Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  8. ^ "CSU Degrees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  9. ^ Bailey, Mary Ellen. "University Archives: Chico State Normal School (1887-1921)". Retrieved 2008-01-06.
  10. ^ "Campus Buildings". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Playboy's Party Schools". 2008. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  12. ^ "These Are Playboy's Top 10 Party Schools'". Time. Sep 14, 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Morrison, Keith (June 26, 2006). "Hazing death at Chico State". MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  14. ^ "Confronting the killer of your loved one". CNN. 2008-07-22.
  15. ^ "Civic Learning Initiative Receives Grant from W. M. Keck Foundation - CSU, Chico News - CSU, Chico". 2011-01-31. Archived from the original on 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  16. ^ "Common Data Set - Institutional Research - CSU, Chico". Archived from the original on 2017-02-18. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  17. ^ "CSU Media Center" (PDF). Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Colleges and Departments". Chico State. 2008. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  19. ^ "Program Search". Chico State. 2008. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  20. ^ "Library Collections". Meriam Library. 2008. Archived from the original on 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  21. ^ "America's Top Colleges 2018". Forbes. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  22. ^ "Best Colleges 2019: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. November 19, 2018.
  23. ^ "2019 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "California State University–Chico - U.S. News Best Grad School Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  25. ^ a b c "Chico Facts - Public Affairs and Publications - CSU, Chico". Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  26. ^ "University Archives - Campus Buildings". Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  27. ^ Campus Buildings. Retrieved 15 July 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "Campus Grounds - University Archives". Meriam Library -- Special Collections. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
  29. ^[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "History of Meriam Library".
  31. ^ "Student Life and Leadership - Student Life and Leadership - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  32. ^ "Fraternity and Sorority Affairs". Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  33. ^ "Social Greek Chapters at CSU, Chico - Division of Student Affairs - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  34. ^ "About". The Orion. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  35. ^ "Wildcat Athletics". California State University, Chico. 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  36. ^ "Competing with NCAA Elite - Best of Chico State - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  37. ^ "The Hall of Fame Committee Salutes the 1980 Softball Team" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  38. ^ "Our Sustainable Future - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  39. ^ "We're sorry! That page could not be found - National Wildlife Federation". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  40. ^ "CSU, Chico News - CSU, Chico News - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  41. ^ "15 Green Colleges and Universities". Grist Magazine. July 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  42. ^ "15 Green Colleges and Universities". The Daily Green. July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  43. ^ a b "Noted CSU, Chico Biologist Named to World Environmental Organization". California State University, Chico. March 5, 2008. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  44. ^ . Retrieved 2015-07-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. ^ "Topping the Green List - Best of Chico State - CSU, Chico". Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  46. ^ Nalley, Richard. "Napa Valley: The Entrepreneur's Tour". Forbes Life. Forbes. Retrieved 17 April 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°43′54″N 121°50′58″W / 39.73167°N 121.84944°W / 39.73167; -121.84944