James "Jim" O'Bannon

Department of Construction Management
1975–2014

James “Jim” O’Bannon not only founded CSU, Chico’s exemplary construction management department but led it to national renown for its extraordinary commitment to community service.

O’Bannon began his 39-year career at Chico State in 1975 with the challenging task of developing a construction management curriculum. The construction management option was launched in 1978 with seven declared majors; today, it is one of University’s top 10 majors. Thanks to the vision and hard work of O’Bannon and others, the construction management program is one of the country’s finest, and boasts more than 3,000 proud alumni.

O’Bannon had long been engaged on campus and in the community with service projects, such as the construction of the Patrick Ranch visitors center. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, O’Bannon was instrumental in organizing students, faculty, and staff to rebuild homes in New Orleans in 2007 and 2008. Those trips not only changed people’s lives in New Orleans, it provided a new service focus for construction management majors and many other Chico State students who also volunteered. Subsequent service projects included building storage sheds in Concow after a major Butte County fire and constructing transitional housing for domestic violence survivors. These “Blitz Build” projects garnered national awards and recognition for Chico State, in no small part due to O’Bannon’s tireless leadership. In 2008, he received the campus Outstanding Faculty Service Award.

Students not only loved O’Bannon for his passion for teaching, they learned valuable real-world lessons from him. Since 1979, he has worked with Richard Heath and Associates to design innovative energy-saving programs, and is currently chairman of the board. He also has served many community groups in important roles, including Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club of the North Valley, which he helped found.

O’Bannon earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Mississippi State University. He earned his PhD from the University of Missouri in vocational education and civil engineering.