Inspiration from Chico State
Your 2013 spring Chico Statements “Heart” and “Service” and “Leading a Good Life” have inspired me to do more. If nothing else, this letter is one more brick from the wall of entropy replaced with appreciation and gratitude.
—Roland McNutt (MS, Recreation Administration, ’90), Chico
A Turning Point
I graduated from Chico State on June 6, 1970, and have always embraced how it changed my life forever. I received a bachelor’s degree in social welfare, with studies in corrections, sociology, and psychology. My professors were experienced and interesting, and some of the classes offered visits to the state prisons, Butte County Jail, and the local office of the California Youth Authority.
After completing a 2.2 grade point average at Sierra College in 1967, I embraced the college life in Chico and completed a 3.5 grade point average. Chico State is where I started to maturate intellectually and emotionally.
After getting my master’s degree from Fresno State in 1972, I started my career as a psychiatric social worker with the California State Department of Mental Hygiene and carried a caseload of mentally disabled and developmentally disabled individuals. It is amazing how much I learned from that population, and to this day, I have a great deal of respect for the clients and staff that work with mental and developmental disabilities.
In the mid-1980s, I worked part time as a therapist and presently continue this service. I retired from the State of California in 2009 and am continuing to learn how to enjoy this phase of my life. Throughout the years, I have returned to Chico to walk the campus and remember the special times I had attending the school that gave me professional direction and an awakening to a vast world.
My son Blake followed some of my footsteps and graduated from Chico State in 2009. All three of my children have obtained college degrees. I encouraged my children to attend college because of the positive experience I had at Chico State and the professional career it allowed me to have.
Chico State was special to me because it took a kid with a fruit ranch labor background, with grandparents who emigrated from Spain, and gave that kid a key to life and the pursuit of happiness. It started me on my way to the American dream. Thank you.
—Robert S. Morillas, MSW, LCSW, LMFT (BS, Social Welfare, ’70)
Lost in 1971—and Found
In preparing for 2013 Commencement, the Facilities Management crew replaced many bleacher boards at University Stadium. In doing so, one of the crew came across a 1971 Commencement program tucked underneath the aluminum skin covering the bleacher boards.
“It is in relatively good shape, a bit tattered and yellowed, and the edges are ragged—all adding to its appeal,” says Durbin Sayers, manager of Custodial and Moving Services. Among the Chico State notables listed on the program are acting president Lew D. Oliver, president emeritus Glenn Kendall, and former chairman of California State Colleges trustees Ted Meriam.
Written on the cover in pencil is a clue to its origins: “This placed here by: Dennis Hacker & Eric Wilson, June 8th 1971.” Sayers, a history buff, was intrigued.
“Well, there was only one thing to do—I had to contact these two,” says Sayers. “Long story short, it took a few weeks and some effort, but through a circuitous route, I finally made contact with them.”
“Eric Wilson and I worked at Plant Ops as student assistants in the maintenance department,” recalls Hacker. “Eric moved back to Crescent City after college. He was an outstanding football player (we had a team then, and they were pretty good). I was just a regular student who lucked out getting the job. We were paid all of $1.75 an hour!”
That summer, explains Hacker, they replaced all the bleachers in the stadium. “I assume we put the program in one of the sleeves of one of the seats or one of the connecting rods,” he says. “It was over 100 degrees every day that summer, and we cut out (with a torch), then another student re-welded the pipes and crossbars for us to drill and attach the planks and the covers. After lunch, you had to wear gloves to touch the tools or get burnt! It was a great summer and gave us great memories.”