California State University, Chico

California State University, Chico (CSU Chico, Chico State, or Chico), is a public university in Chico, California. Founded in 1887, it is the second oldest campus in the 23-campus California State University system. As of the Fall 2018 semester, the university had a total enrollment of 17,448 students. The university offers 126 types of bachelor's degrees, 35 types of master's degrees, and four types of teaching credentials.[8][9]

California State University, Chico
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$64.7 million (2018)[2]
Budget$248.6 million (2019)[3]
PresidentGayle Hutchinson
ProvostDebra Larson
Academic staff
989 (Fall 2018)[4]
Administrative staff
1,106 (Fall 2018)[4]
Students17,019 (Fall 2019)[5]
Undergraduates16,099 (Fall 2019)[5]
Postgraduates920 (Fall 2019)[5]
Location, ,
United States
CampusSmall/Medium City[6]
Central Campus: 119 acres (48 ha)
Total: 3,249 acres (1,315 ha)
ColorsRed and white
AthleticsNCAA Division IICCAA
NicknameWildcats [7]
AffiliationsCalifornia State University system
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
MascotWillie the Wildcat


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.[10] 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.

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.[11]

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 (local) house, which had previously been expelled from the university in 2001 due to violations.[12] 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.[13]

In 2011, CSU, Chico received a Civic Learning Initiative Grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to extend its efforts to establish civic engagement as a key component of students' academic success.[14]


Fall Freshman Statistics[15][16][17][18]

Freshman Applicants 23,96422,85323,12422,321
Admits 15,63915,79615,39314,441
% Admitted 65.369.166.664.7
GPA 3.413.343.303.33
SAT mid-50% range* 1000-1190990-1170880-1100890-1110
ACT mid-50% range 18-2419-2519-2419-25
* SAT out of 1600

The university has more than 75 departments[19] and offers more than 150 undergraduate degrees.[20] 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.[21]


University rankings
Forbes[22] 335
Times/WSJ[23] 343
U.S. News & World Report[24] 27
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[25] 20

According to the U.S. News & World Report 2020 college rankings, Chico State is ranked tied for 9th among western regional public universities, and tied at 36th for "Social Mobility", tied at 18th for "Best Undergraduate Teaching", and tied for 27th overall among all regional universities in the western United States.[26]

Chico State is ranked 335th out of 650 colleges, universities, and service academies in the U.S. in the 2019 Forbes America's Top Colleges list, and is ranked 68th in the West, 73rd for "Best Value", and 113th among all public universities.[27]

2019 USNWR departmental rankings[28]

Fine Arts 173
Public Affairs 199
Social Work 121
Speech–Language Pathology 183


The California State University, Chico campus consists of a 119-acre main campus, an 800-acre university farm, and 2,330-acres of ecological reserves. These reserves include the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) and the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve (BCEP).[4]

Early construction

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.[29]

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.[11]


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.[30]

Residence halls

Currently, the university can accommodate 2,150[31] 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

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.[32]

Student life

Associated Students, Chico

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

Fall 2018 Demographics of student body[33]
* All levels, freshman through graduate
African American 2.6%
Asian American 4.5%
Filipino American 0.9%
Pacific Islander 0.2%
White European Americans 42.9%
Native American/American Indian 0.5%
Mexican American/Chicano 27.1%
Other Latino American 6.1%
Multiracial Americans 5.2%
Non-resident alien 3.2%
Unknown 6.6%

Student Life and Leadership, formally the Student Activities Office, incorporates four programs: Student Organizations and Leadership Education (SOLE), Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (FSA), Rec Sports, and the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC).

Town Hall Meeting

Chico State formed an event where Chico State students gather in a public area and discuss most current policy issues with their peers. Faculty members are also involved in this event. This event happens annually and students look forward to it all year. Once the opening comments and the welcome occur in the Bell Memorial Union Auditorium, the participants explore different locations on campus for "breakout sessions". These sessions give students a chance to share their research with their peers. Students have commented saying this event has inspired them to get more involved in the community and stay educated about current politics. [34]

The Great Debate

The Great Debate was created to drive members of both the campus and the community to take part in a conversation about issues that have the ability to divide the community. There is a different topic that takes place every semester. An example of a topic is Climate Change. The event requires a full day where presentations and debates take place. Students partake in active listening and respectful communication exchange. Students from Communication Studies classes are the students who give presentations based off a previously chosen topic. At 6:15 pm, a formal debate is held by CSU, Chico Debate Team members and stakeholder Community Members.[35]

Greek life

As of May 2017 Chico State has 26 fraternities and sororities, making up approximately 12 percent of the student population.[36]

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, Delta Chi, 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.[37]


Demographics of Student Body Fall 2018[4]
Black/African American 2.6%
Asian 5.4%
White 42.9%
Hispanic/Latino 33.3%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 0.5%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.2%
Nonresident Alien 3.2%
Two or More Ethnicities 5.2%
Decline to State 6.6%

Male to Female Percentage: Male 46% - Female 54%[4]

CSU Chico along with CSU Bakersfield has the second largest enrollment percentage of Native Americans in the Cal State system.[33]

Student media

KCSC Radio was founded in 1951. The university's student-run weekly newspaper, The Orion first began publishing in 1975.[38] 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.

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, golf, cross country, 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.[39] 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.[40] The Wildcats softball team won the first AIAW Division III national championship in 1980, led by pitcher Kathy Arendsen.[41]

The Wildcats of Chico State earned 6 team NCAA championships at the Division II level.[42] NCAA Division II individual championships by Scott Bauhs (2008) Men's cross country and J. J. Jakovac (2002, 2004) and Kyle Souza (2011) Men's Golf Championships.


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).

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." [44]

Noted people

Notable alumni

NameKnown forRelationship to Chico
Annette Abbott AdamsFirst female Assistant Attorney General of the United States
Big Poppa EProfessional slam poetAttended 1994-2000 (Journalism)
Nelson BrilesFormer Major League Baseball player
Donald J. ButzUnited States Air Force major general
Don CarlsenFormer NFL referee retired 2012
Doug ChapmanActorBA, 1994
Raymond CarverAuthor
Clay DalrympleFormer Major League Baseball player
Mark DavisOwner Oakland Raiders
Amanda DetmerActress
Clair EngleUnited States SenatorBA, 1930
Horace Dove-EdwinOlympianMA in exercise science, 1999
Ken GrossmanCo-founder Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Brandon HarkinsProfessional golfer
Joseph HilbeStatistician and philosopherBA in Philosophy
Dominik JakubekGoalkeeper for Major League SoccerBA Liberal Studies 2009
Troy JohnsonFood critic, TV judge of Food Network showsBA Speech Communications and Poetry 1997
Tom JonesAssistant to head coach Oakland RaidersBA Criminal Justice 2005
Mat KearneyColumbia recording artistAttended Chico State for 2 years
Adnan KhashoggiSaudi businessman
Sandra LernerCo-founder of Cisco SystemsBA Political Science 1975
Michael MessnerSociologist, Professor at the University of Southern CaliforniaBA, 1974; MA, 1976
Bob MulhollandPolitical strategist
Troy NeimanBaseball player
Matt OlmsteadWriter and television producer
Kathleen O'Neal GearHistorian and archaeologistBA and MA
Maureen O'TooleOlympic silver medalist
Michael PolenskeEntrepreneur & vintnerBachelors in Finance[45]
Lubna al QasimiMinister for Economy and Planning of the United Arab EmiratesBS in Computer Science
Ed RollinsPolitical strategistBA, 1968
Thom RossArtistdegree in fine arts, 1974
Gene ScottOrdained minister and religious broadcasterBA and MA
Carolyn ShoemakerAstronomer
Dale ThayerMajor League Baseball player
Mark ThomaEconomistBA, 1980
Mike ThompsonMember of the United States Congress
Mark UlriksenPainter
Johannes van OverbeekRace car driver
Patrick VaughanHistorian
Bill WattenburgRadio host, author, inventor
Chris WondolowskiForward for Major League Soccer
Don YoungMember of the United States CongressBA, 1958


NameKnown forRelationship to Chico
John GardnerAuthorProfessor of English
Michael GillisHistorianLecturer in history
Janja LalichSociologistProfessor of Sociology
Harold LangDancer and actorProfessor of dance, 1970–1985
Peveril MeigsGeographerProfessor of geography, 1929–1942
Nicholas Nagy-TalaveraHistorianProfessor of History, 1967–1991
Michael PerelmanAuthorProfessor of Economics
Sarah M. Pike Author Professor of Comparative Religion and Humanities
Jeff PriceShared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize[43]Professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Ivan SvitákPhilosopher, Critic, PoetProfessor of Philosophy, 1970–1990

University presidents

  • 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


  1. "CSU, Chico 2009-2011 Catalog". Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  2. As of June 30, 2018. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2017 to FY 2018" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  3. "2019-20 Budget Plan" (PDF). September 9, 2019. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  4. "Chico Facts". California State University, Chico. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  5. "Fall Term Student Enrollment". The California State University Institutional Research and Analyses. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  6. "CSUMentor - Explore Campuses - Comparative View". Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  7. "Chico Facts - CSU, Chico". Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  8. "CSU Degrees". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  9. "CSU Degrees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  10. Bailey, Mary Ellen. "University Archives: Chico State Normal School (1887-1921)". Retrieved 2008-01-06.
  11. "Campus Buildings". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  12. Morrison, Keith (June 26, 2006). "Hazing death at Chico State". NBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  13. "Confronting the killer of your loved one". CNN. 2008-07-22. Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2011-05-18.
  14. "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.
  15. "California State University, Chico 2018-2019 Common Data Set" (PDF). California State University, Chico.
  16. "California State University, Chico 2017-2018 Common Data Set" (PDF). California State University, Chico.
  17. "California State University, Chico 2016-2017 Common Data Set" (PDF). California State University, Chico.
  18. "California State University, Chico 2015-2016 Common Data Set" (PDF). California State University, Chico.
  19. "Colleges and Departments". Chico State. 2008. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  20. "Program Search". Chico State. 2008. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  21. "Library Collections". Meriam Library. 2008. Archived from the original on 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  22. "America's Top Colleges 2019". Forbes. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  23. "U.S. College Rankings 2020". Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  24. "Best Colleges 2020: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  25. "2019 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  26. "U.S. News Best College Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 2020. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  27. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. August 15, 2019.
  28. "California State University–Chico - U.S. News Best Grad School Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  29. "University Archives - Campus Buildings". Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  30. "Campus Grounds - University Archives". Meriam Library -- Special Collections. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
  31. "UHFS Annual Report 2011-2012" (PDF).
  32. "History of Meriam Library". Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  33. "Ethnicity Enrollment Profile". Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  34. "The CSU, Chico Town Hall Meeting".
  35. "Chico Great Debate".
  36. "Fraternity and Sorority Affairs". Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  37. "Social Greek Chapters at CSU, Chico - Division of Student Affairs - CSU, Chico". Archived from the original on 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  38. "About". The Orion. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  39. "Wildcat Athletics". California State University, Chico. 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  40. "Competing with NCAA Elite - Best of Chico State - CSU, Chico". Archived from the original on 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  41. "The Hall of Fame Committee Salutes the 1980 Softball Team" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  42. "Championships Summary" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  43. "Noted CSU, Chico Biologist Named to World Environmental Organization". California State University, Chico. March 5, 2008. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  44. "Topping the Green List - Best of Chico State - CSU, Chico". Archived from the original on 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  45. Nalley, Richard. "Napa Valley: The Entrepreneur's Tour". Forbes Life. Forbes. Retrieved 17 April 2013.

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