Chico State: Leading by Example
Hanging from lampposts throughout the campus are banners that communicate our institutional identity and celebrate our values. Some pay homage to the Mechoopda and other Native American communities of the North State. Others signal an appreciation of our natural environment. Still others honor alumni contributions to our story and character. A particular set of banners brightens the walkways of the First Street renovation with messages about community and collaboration, diversity and sustainability, civic engagement and leadership. Gracing the pages of this issue of Chico Statements is evidence that what we profess is, in fact, what we live. And that what we live connects across generations and cultures and reminds us of the power of personal example.
Consider the profiles of several students, mentors, and friends within these pages.
Led by Tanya Komas, the director of our highly regarded Concrete Industry Management program, our students have spent the last two summers working on The Rock. Yes, that one—Alcatraz. They are part of a five-year Preservation Field School in partnership with the National Park Service to assist in the restoration of the buildings and grounds there.
On one hand, this is an excellent example of applied learning as our students bring their classroom knowledge to bear in solving a particular problem. On the other, this is applied public service as their efforts join hundreds of National Park Service volunteers working to preserve a landmark facility in our national heritage. For just as Alcatraz is more than a former federal prison, the work of our students there is more than an academic exercise. It is about developing an appreciation—and a habit—for lending one’s expertise and labor to serving the public good.
And speaking about goodness, six years ago the University Advisory Board established an award to recognize students who have provided exemplary community service. The board must have had Koudougou Alfred Koala in mind. For this is a special individual whose vision of change through education not only underscores one of the fundamental purposes of our university but also inspires hope and our best intentions.
Reading about Koala’s story of commitment to sustainability and self-sufficiency in his small village in Burkina Faso, West Africa, will move you. But no narrative can possibly convey the virtue of this man and the noble mission that compels his work. He has engaged many volunteers from the North State in support of the foundation he established to lift rural communities out of poverty and into the possibilities of education. I hope that many who read Koala’s profile will want to get to know him and help his work.
Although neither Ed nor Marion Floyd attended Chico State, they settled in Chico late in their years and came to appreciate our university through the people and services that made their lives more comfortable before their passing. Their gift of $4 million, the largest philanthropic gift in our history, will benefit the School of Nursing, scholarships for re-entry students, and Passages, a resource center for older adults and caregivers operated by the University Research Foundation.
All the more so because the Floyds were neither alums nor regular members of the university family, their gift is powerful testimony to what caring people and high-quality programs can accomplish. Touched, as they were, by the warm embrace of our university, they have ensured that others will be, too.
These are stories of engagement and goodness, commitment and service. Yes, our banners proclaim these values. But these people make them true. And this is a great message to celebrate as the 125th anniversary of the University’s founding approaches in 2012.
—Paul J. Zingg, President