Northern Branch of the State Normal School of California, eventually
evolving into California State University, Chico, entered the
20th Century at the tender age of eleven.
students were enrolled in 1900,
and women outnumbered men four to one.
was free. Students did not purchase textbooks. All textbooks
were available in the library. However, room and board, ranging
from $8 to $16 dollars per month, was considered "outrageously
high," and miscellaneous course fees for chemicals, art supplies,
and the like, had already crept into student's budgets, but could
not exceed $5 total for the entire four years of study.
faculty provided instruction leading to the baccalaureate in a
single major: education. Students were expected to "master
education and develop sound moral character. Football players
were specifically cautioned against the display of profanity,
vulgarity and smoking. Faculty were expected to serve as role
models, and in the early years of the century, two presidents
were dismissed for, among other things, the public consumption
of alcohol and tobacco.
1921, the college
was granted it's unique and everlasting identity. The Northern
Branch of the State Normal School was renamed "Chico State
Teacher's College." "Chico State" has remained
the moniker of popular choice identifying the campus throughout
the remainder of the century.
brought several long lasting traditions to the campus. The football
team captured its first conference championship, and the school
celebrated by referring to the players as "Wildcats,"
a name quickly adopted as the official symbol of athletics.
tradition of an annual spring "Senior Class Picnic"
seemed a bit too tame, and students sought release from winter
days and welcomed spring by celebrating their western heritage
in a much more rowdy affair called "Pioneer Days."
had grown to 583 students and 35 faculty. Education remained
the sole degree offered. However, options were offered in seven
areas, ranging from kindergarten through junior college teaching.
Of these options, only Home Economics has failed to survive in
struck in 1927,
as the Administration Building burned down.
building, within which we are presently sitting, was rebuilt in
1929, and the
university's motto "Today Decides Tomorrow" was inscribed
above the portals of the main entrance.
Great Depression brought more students and a fundamental change
in focus to the college. Jobs were scarce but classroom space
was plentiful. By 1932,
during the depths of the recession, enrollment had increased to
766 students, with 51 faculty.
unable to find jobs in K-12 education, began demanding programs
of study beyond teacher education, and in 1935,
the college responded by offering degrees not tied to teacher
training, and dropped "Teachers" from its name and became
"Chico State College."
the winds of war clouded the horizon, enrollment exceeded 800
However, as students were called to arms, enrollment plunged,
and by 1944 only
284 students were in attendance, and again, men were much in the
postwar years, fueled by veterans on the GI bill, quickly returned
enrollment to prewar levels, and by 1947
over 1000 students were registered along with 95 faculty.
campus took a major step in 1950 as
the curriculum expanded into graduate studies, and the initial
masters’ degrees, only in education, were awarded. In that graduating
class stood one who would become one of our most illustrious alumni,
a woman who would literally venture, as Captain Kirk would say,
"where no man has gone before." Carolyn Shoemaker
was an historian turned astronomer. Peering through a giant telescope
in a career spanning over 40 years, she would discover more comets
than any woman and all but a very few men. Teaming with her husband
in 1983, they discovered the giant "Shoemaker
Levy 9" comet, and charted its course as it proceeded to
crash into Jupiter the following year.
1955, the Faculty Council, the forerunner of the present
day Academic Senate, convened in these very chambers. Margery
Anthony presided as the first chair.
1961, Chico joined with 12 other state
colleges in the formation of the California State College System,
eventually to become the California State University System, the
largest system of higher education in the world.
state and the university found themselves on the receiving end
of unbridled growth. In 1962, California
exceeded New York as the nation's most populous state, and Chico
experienced unprecedented growth, with enrollment soaring above
6000 students by 1967.
that year, the Faculty Council became the Faculty Senate, with
Charles Adams as the first senate chair.
saw the beginning of a lengthy process of reorganizing academic
departments into schools, adding a Graduate School in 1967,
and culminating in the redesignation of schools as "colleges"
the way, in 1972, Chico State College
became a bona fide university, and was renamed California State
University, Chico, to which it answers today.
1980s and '90s
were heady times for Chico, bringing unprecedented progress in
technological innovation, collective bargaining, achievements,
high and low, in scholarship and athletics, and the loss of several
long-standing traditions so dear to the hearts of many Chicoans.
1982, Chico led the CSU system in taking
a bold step that forever changed the way library's provide access
to information. On that date, the most basic tool of research,
the card catalog, that had so faithfully guided researchers into
the book stacks for hundreds of years, faded into history. In
its place stood an unfamiliar and primitive version of a computer
terminal that appeared more like a television than anything one
would expect to find in a library. The online catalog had replaced
the card catalog. A few eminent scholars decried it, not as any
innovation, but as the worst setback to research imaginable.
But even these, soon began to appreciate, the efficiency of entering
a keyword, rather than flipping through endless drawers full of
cards in search of that elusive publication.
"information explosion" was accelerating faster than
a supernova, and Chico was riding the crest. In 1997,
the library connected with the "World Wide Web," and
with a click of the mouse on a box that said "Internet,"
researchers literally had the world at their fingertips.
and staff had struggled long and hard to have a stronger say
in matters relating to working conditions. Efforts culminated
when employees entered upon the initial "collective bargaining
contract" in 1983.
1986, Chico achieved the highest accolades
of any institution of higher education in the nation. For once,
the campus was ranked number one, but not in an area to which
we aspired, and not by a critic of which we respected. Playboy
Magazine bestowed upon the university the dubious honor of top
party school. Unfortunately, too many reveled in celebration,
and Pioneer Days that spring devolved into drunken decadence.
An exasperated President Robin Wilson stood true to his word and
"took it out back and shot it in the head"; and thus
perhaps Chico's most venerable tradition, serving as the rites
of spring for 63 years, came to an abrupt and inglorious end.
traditions die hard, and St. Patrick's Day and Halloween quickly
filled the gap and proved equally infamous as forums for unrestrained
rowdyism. However, even these events have moderated as students
of the latter days of the 20th century
have come to realize that it is upon their shoulders that rests
the responsibility for shaping the 21st century.
1992, Chico bested arch rival UC Davis
on the gridiron for the first time in 21 years and recaptured
the conference championship. The taste of victory was not long
to be savored, however, and in 1997
the pigskin was laid to rest. A Saturday afternoon staple of
autumn had come to an end.
we lost on the gridiron, we more than made up on the diamond.
The baseball team captured the NCAA national championship in 1997,
and repeated in 1999.
Chico's batters were slamming balls out of the ballpark, so too
were Chico tracksters sailing out of the sand pits. The women's
track team captured the NCAA championship in the long jump and
triple jump in 1993, and the records
set stand as school records to this day.
on the playing field was equally matched by performance in the
classroom, and laboratory. The final decade of the century saw
several Chico faculty achieve international reputations in areas
of third world economics, the entomology of central African ants,
and mathematical error theory, a field so esoteric that perhaps
no more than 25 mathematicians worldwide could comprehend it and
nobody could describe it in words.
offers 87 bachelors and masters degrees distributed among 130
majors, minors, options, patterns and certificates.
Students in mechanical engineering and construction management
consistently score high in national competitions, nobody can out
talk our forensics team nor outrun our people powered vehicle, and
nursing students lead the nation in scores on national exams. The
campus newspaper, the Orion, has received the "Pacemaker"
award for excellence in journalism for five of the past seven years,
and our Students in Free Enterprise placed first in the
1999 International Exposition.
University has rebounded from the dubious honors bestowed by Playboy
and MTV. Prospective students are increasingly designating Chico
as their campus of first choice, and Chico consistently rates
among the best in the West in college rankings.
Faculty Senate, recognizing that all we do and who we are, goes
well beyond the realm of just the faculty and reflects equally
upon the concerns of students, was renamed the "Academic
Senate" in 1994, with Jim McManus
as the first chair.
the century comes to a close, we may feel secure in knowing that
we have fulfilled our primary mission, as recently stated by the
President: "No matter what innovations lie ahead, the bottom
line always will be student success."