Feb. 16, 2017 – Listening Tour Report and Next Steps

To: Campus Community

From: President Gayle E. Hutchinson


Today, I share with you the results of my Listening Tour. In those first 100 days, I conducted 90 group meetings, held two open forums, and received online feedback from 407 faculty, staff, students and friends of the University. 
I am grateful for your thoughts and opinions about our campus strengths and challenges. I also appreciate your suggestions on how we might think outside the box, and creatively and innovatively invest our resources for the future. Your pride in Chico State and your strong belief that our future is bright have touched my heart deeply. Yes, I, too, believe that the best is yet to come.

As you read the report, you will find themes that emerged from the data. In addition to sharing with you what I heard, I also include progress that has been made in the past seven months to respond to some of your concerns, along with plans for addressing other concerns over the long term. You will notice that progress comes in a variety of forms, both small and large. I ask you to keep in mind that all actions have a cumulative and positive impact, and together they illustrate momentum. 

The Listening Tour Report is our first step. In this open letter, I want to share with you the next steps we will undertake this spring semester to drive the innovation and progress that will impel us forward.

Refresh the University strategic plan. In my fall 2016 convocation address, I mentioned that we would develop a progressive University plan under the theme of exploring opportunities and supporting innovation. I quoted Maya Angelou, who said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive; and do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” So, let us again dare to thrive. The hope you expressed during the Listening Tour releases us from the immediate past, refocuses us on the future, helps us attempt new things, and propels us forward. Your ideas and suggestions give us the courage to choose and build our own future. Remember what Annette Heileson so eloquently told us, “. . . no matter which way you look at the glass, the glass is refillable, folks!” Let us refill our glass with a compelling and achievable vision, innovative strategy directions, and actionable and sustainable implementation plans. I have asked Brooke Banks, my chief of staff, to lead the strategic plan renewal effort beginning later this spring.

Seek reaffirmation by WASC. At the institutional level, Chico State is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Its new accreditation process is designed to promote a commitment to educational and institutional effectiveness, build a culture of evidence, and foster individual and organizational learning. As these are the hallmarks of Chico State, we look forward to demonstrating that campus efforts are grounded in the core commitments of student learning and success, quality and improvement, and institutional accountability and sustainability. I have asked Ben Juliano, our academic liaison officer with WASC, to lead the campus in completing the work on the reaffirmation of our accreditation started last year. By March 2018, I anticipate an institutional report that demonstrates both our achievements and our high aspirations for the future. Our on-site visit is scheduled for April 2019.

Continue to foster student success. Last September, I approved and submitted the Chico State Student Success Plan in response to the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025. At the most recent meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees, I reported on the progress made on the short-term goals and strategies outlined in the plan. In particular, I reported on the Winter Session special efforts, the awarding of Graduation Initiative and Continuing Education grants, and individual student success stories. I have asked Bill M. Loker and the Graduation Initiative Team to lead the further development and implementation of the Chico Long-Term Student Success Plan. We will continue to lead in student success through teaching and learning, scholarship and research, and community service and civic engagement.

Continue to build communities of inclusive excellence. While the three major goals listed above command our collective and individual attention this semester and will likely garner public visibility and recognition, I am acutely aware that it is the day-to-day engagement in our core functions and activities on the part of all of us that is most responsible for the progress we will make this spring. The Listening Tour Report identifies a number of themes that we will continue to work on daily. They include promoting a sense of community; a continuing focus on student success; the pursuit of staff and faculty excellence; the enhancement of our academic reputation for distinction and innovation; a commitment to civic and community engagement; and the deployment of resources for a sustainable future. Each one of us contributes to those efforts. Let us retool our doing and give mindful structure, rhythm, and purpose to our daily work.

As I review these spring 2017 projects, I cannot help but be excited and confident about our future. I am convinced that when we plan intentionally and we act with imagination, Chico State can become an even stronger community that thrives and demonstrates success. Given the results of our efforts to date, we are well positioned to see beyond our challenges and to move forward in innovative and creative ways. And, when we catch that fresh new vision for our future . . . anything is possible!

Together, we will shape the future of our institution and our community. I invite you to become part of our efforts this semester. We need your participation. Together, we will transform tomorrow!