"EOP was there for me even before I started my education at Chico State and became more like a family to me than a support service."
– Veronica Coates, School Psychologist
In 2009, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) celebrated its 40th anniversary across the California State University system. Four decades ago, state legislation (SB 1072) created the program to facilitate access to the university for underrepresented, low income, first-generation college students.
But the history of EOP at Chico State actually started before that ground-breaking legislation. On May 23, 1968, the Faculty Senate approved the Educational Opportunity Program for the next academic year. Seventy-four participants enrolled representing African-American, American Indian, Mexican American, and white students. Based on historical accounts, John "Jack" Otto is considered to be the first overall director of EOP. John Henry Rivers, who later went on to obtain his doctorate and become a vice president for student affairs at CSU, Hayward (now East Bay), was the first EOP coordinator.
Since then, new patterns of immigration and program growth have changed the demographics of EOP. EOP now serves approximately 1200 participants reflecting the diversity of California.
As the students have changed, so has the program. EOP provided then, as it does now, access to the University, EOP grants for eligible students, and support services to assist nontraditional students to succeed. Now, the program also offers the First Year Experience program, computer lab, Summer Bridge program, and cultural and community service activities.
EOP’s primary goal has been, and always will be, to provide opportunities for higher education to students who might not otherwise have been able to pursue a college career. As we look toward our 50th anniversary, we continue to celebrate the program’s contribution to educational equity, diversity, and excellence.