Dec. 4, 2017Vol. 48, Issue 3

Service Beyond Self

More than 400 student, faculty, and staff volunteers participated in Make a Difference Day across Chico, clearing debris, picking up trash, cleaning downtown, or working at the Jesus Center and the center’s garden. (Tyler Wright / Student Photographer)

Every morning I wake up and ask myself, “How might we encourage students to be the best citizens they can be?”

Service beyond self is an essential virtue and one that many of us learned at a young age. At Chico State, we celebrate that value by honoring our legacy commitment to civic engagement and community service, knowing its practice helps stabilize the fabric of all healthy communities and prepares our students to be globally minded citizens.

As faculty and staff, we know we play an integral role. That’s why we deliberately and genuinely model civic engagement and community service, as well as create opportunities for student participation that will expand awareness and knowledge about myriad community needs.

A few weeks ago on national Make a Difference Day, I worked alongside fellow Rotarians to enhance the Chico children’s playground Caper Acres. Later, I checked in with Chico State students who had volunteered their time improving the grounds around the Chico Area Recreation and Parks District’s (CARD) Center, clearing brush and debris. It brought me great joy to see our students enthusiastically engaged in community service at CARD and to know more than 400 student, faculty, and staff volunteers were doing the same around the city, picking up trash, cleaning downtown, or working at the Jesus Center and the center’s garden.

Collectively, we contribute in ways that make strong and positive impacts on campus, in the city, and around the North State. Our Office of Civic Engagement provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the community to work together to solve local issues and instill in all of us a sense of place and civic-mindedness. Beyond that effort, countless programs small and large lead their own efforts.

I’m proud to report that so much is going on to improve lives and our community. I’m sure some of the following projects will surprise you. It’s difficult to stay on top of them all! And that is a good thing.

President Hutchinson could not resist a selfie when she found a group of students hard at work on Make a Difference Day. (Courtesy photo)

President Hutchinson could not resist a selfie when she found a group of students hard at work on Make a Difference Day. (Courtesy photo)

  • As part of the Rural Partnerships program, Town Hall 2.0 was born to build on a downtown Chico success story—the biannual Town Hall Meetings, which provide our first-year students with a public arena for discussing current issues with other students, faculty, administrators, and community members. For Town Hall 2.0, Chico State students will mentor Red Bluff high school students in civic engagement skills and culminate with a Town Hall Meeting activity.
  • New this year is Chico State Giving Day, a time for all to show that ’Cats give back. It is our version of Giving Tuesday, a global day of philanthropy following Thanksgiving. Our fundraising far exceeded expectations. Featured funds support students facing food and housing insecurity, new scholarships, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, student teachers traveling to work in rural schools, North State Public Radio, and many other efforts.  
  • At last month’s California State University Board of Trustees meeting, I was asked to share about our CalFresh Outreach program and efforts to expand our contract to include all 23 CSU campuses. Led by staff and students, this program puts federal dollars for food into the pockets of students facing food insecurity. As we lead the way across the CSU, community colleges and even University of California campuses have contacted our Center for Healthy Communities to learn about the program. The CalFresh Outreach program has the potential to put $40 million CalFresh dollars into students’ pockets for food across the CSU.
  • Coming up March 15–16 is Chico State’s 13th sustainability conference. This Way to Sustainability—the largest student-run conference of its kind in the nation—engages students and the wider community in a search of sustainable strategies for the common good. This year’s theme is “Sustaining Our Future.”

Civic engagement and community service stand as pillars that support our University mission. Our students graduate with a sense of place and understanding of the importance of service beyond self. And, we are confident that when our students move on from Chico State they will engage with their new communities wherever they continue their lives.

As we enter the holiday season and prepare for winter break, I extend my thanks and gratitude for your service contributions. I also challenge us to continue to do more. Together, we will improve our communities and shape the citizens of tomorrow.

—Gayle E. Hutchinson, President
Troy Jollimore, Philosophy, had his article, published in the text Melville Among the Philosophers.

Achievements

Troy Jollimore, Philosophy, had his article, “‘In Voiceless Visagelessness’: The Disenchanted Landscape of Clarel,” published in the text Melville Among the Philosophers. Read more.

A delegation from the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Cultivating Cultural Connections: ‘Walk in US, Talk on Japan’

Chico State’s international students were visited by a delegation from the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Read more.