The Orion Honored by University as High Quality Learning Environment

Most people know The Orion simply as the “Chico State student newspaper.” What this description fails to reflect is the fact that The Orion is a weekly newspaper with professional standards that is produced entirely by the students at California State University, Chico. The Orion also is an integral part of the success of the department of journalism’s news-editorial option.

The efforts of the students who produce the newspaper and the faculty who teach and support them have been recognized with designation of The Orion as the 2006 recipient of Chico State’s High Quality Learning Environment Award.

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching coordinates the annual award, which is given annually in recognition of university departments, units, programs, or colleges that exemplify commitment to the development of high quality learning environments in and outside the classroom. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 fund, to be spent on the winning program.

While The Orion offers students the faculty interaction, engagement, feedback and learning of a structured, rigorous college course, it also provides students with a sense of both independence and the professional journalism experience. It is a synergistic hybrid that is neither independent of the university nor wholly integrated into it.

Students who participate in The Orion are a diverse, passionate group. They sign up for the newspaper as if they were registering for a regular university course, but are tipped off by the pre-requisites, their peers and the program application that the newspaper offers much more than the standard classroom experience.

“Even when I’m not at The Orion basement 30 to 40 hours per week, I can still be at home or hanging out with friends thinking about The Orion,” said 2006 Chico State grad Jorge Barrientos of his experience as news editor for the student newspaper. “And it’s not even because I’m overachieving. It’s because that’s what the working as a news editor for The Orion entails.”

The Orion represents the best of what Chico State has to offer: A dynamic, high quality learning environment that builds on classroom learning and faculty engagement in ways that help students achieve personal goals, along with grants, scholarships, internships and jobs. 

The professional and interpersonal communication skills gained through student work on The Orion are not separate from the university experience, but are the direct result of the commitment of Chico State and the department of journalism to providing our students the best education possible.

The Orion is a true Chico State success story and has evolved in its 31-year history to become arguably the most honored college newspaper in the nation.