September 13, 2012Vol. 43, Issue 1

Anniversary by the Numbers – “125” Comes Alive in Historic Photo Shoot

You can see a time-lapse video of the 125th anniversary photo shoot at

A once-in-a-lifetime, 125th anniversary celebration photo was planned as part of Wildcat Welcome, CSU, Chico’s annual orientation for new students. The students were greeted Friday morning, Aug. 24, in the University Stadium by President Paul Zingg prior to joining other students, faculty, staff, and alumni for the photo in a playing field next to the stadium.

Four years from now, many of the new students in the photo will be lined up once again in the field adjacent to the stadium for Commencement. That group of graduates, the class of 2016, will be CSU, Chico’s 125th graduating class.

“We think it will mean a lot to our new students to be a part of this photo,” said Susan Anderson, director of Alumni and Parent Relations, who also coordinates Commencement. “They will always be able to say, ‘I was there that day, in the 125th photo.’ We look forward to seeing them back in four years as part of a special 125th graduating class.”

Included in the photo are President Zingg, Willie the Wildcat, and alumna Sandy Nason Griffin, a descendant of Cora Nason, who was in the school’s first graduating class. Griffin brought along a framed copy of Nason's 1891 diploma, which was signed by Chico State founder John Bidwell.

Anderson and Alan Rellaford, creative director, planned the coordinates for the photo dimensions with the consulting help of Professor Terry Kiser, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Freelance photographer Beiron Andersson took the photo from a scissor lift 65 feet off the ground.

Because of the angle and height of the photo, the “1,” “2” and “5” numbers had to be specially shaped on the playing field to look proportional in the shot. “While the numbers appear to fit in a rectangle,” said Rellaford, “they are actually distorted into a trapezoid on the ground.” He said the top of all three numbers on the field measured 180 feet across, and the base measured 80 feet across.

To be able to accommodate new students and others in the shot, measurements and test photos at the playing field site were taken earlier in the summer. Kiser analyzed the square footage to estimate how many people could fit in the outlines of the numbers. “We are very grateful to Terry for the crucial expertise he provided,” said Rellaford.

The playing field was chalked and roped off Aug. 23 in preparation for the photo. Volunteers helped form the boundaries of the “1,” “2” and “5” so that participants could quickly flow in. Faculty, staff, and alumni were invited in first. Mary Wallmark, chair of the Wildcat Welcome committee, stood on a second, and lower, scissor lift giving directions through a sound system to put people in position for the photo.

After the historic shot was taken, new students immediately dispersed so they could attend mandatory meetings with academic departments.

Videographers from CSU, Chico’s Academic Technologies chronicled the entire process to create the time-lapse video. “The way the 125th photo came together is a great example of what we call the Chico Experience,” said Anderson. “People working together, an appreciation of our long history, tremendous pride in being part of Chico State—it was all there.”

Founded in 1887, CSU, Chico is the second oldest CSU campus and the fifth oldest public college or university in the state.

Historically speaking, 125 is a big number in California higher education. But on Aug. 24, it was a really big number.

—Joe Wills, Public Affairs and Publications