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Spring 2001

 

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Jackie Faris-Rees
1954-2000

From her term as Associated Students president in the late 1970s to her most recent term on the Chico Unified School District school board, CSU, Chico alumna Jackie Faris-Rees devoted her life to public service. For more than 20 years, Faris-Rees led, mentored, and guided students and the community. She tackled the hard issues, gave constructive criticism to friends and foes, analyzed problems, and itemized possible solutions. Throughout her life she provided leadership with humor and flair.

When Faris-Rees died from breast cancer on April 22, 2000, the Chico community mourned the loss of a beloved family member, a dear friend, and an outstanding leader. For several years, Student Affairs personnel had talked about the possibility of a leadership institute. Shortly before Faris-Rees's death, she agreed to have the institute named after her, provided the title had the word "student" in it. The Jackie Faris-Rees Institute for Student Leadership was born.

The institute will pool resources and coordinate leadership opportunities for students. Paul Moore, vice president for University Advancement and Student Affairs, says the institute will allow the university to be "more deliberate about student leadership development on this campus."

Kim DuFour, development director for Natural Sciences (B.A., Social Work, '81; Master of Public Administration, '89), sees the institute as a fitting memorial to Faris-Rees because "she really exemplified what it means to be a student leader and what it means to be involved in student government and how that can change someone's life."

Faris-Rees's commitment to public service never wavered. Her husband, Rick Rees (B.A., Speech Communication, '74; Teaching Credential, '75), says, "What drove her absolutely up the wall was what she called ‘lifeboat mentality,' where people just want to take care of their own. She worked most of her life for the greater good."

Until 1997, she worked as the administrative assistant to Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan. Dolan remembers Faris-Rees as the kind of person "you want to be around because they're intelligent, giving, caring, fun. To the extent we can share that and bring out that quality in other people, that's what the institute's all about."

Faris-Rees served as A.S. president while studying history at CSU, Chico. After graduating in 1977, she stayed involved as the alum representative to the A.S. Government Affairs Council and as a mentor to student leaders.

In the 1980s, then-campus president Robin Wilson wanted to use the money the Associated Students generated from their businesses to fund other projects. Faris-Rees, no longer a student, was in the forefront of the opposition. DuFour recalls: "She did a lot of coaching, a lot of mentoring to student leaders at that time, helping them to understand that what you have here is a unique experience and a unique situation, and if you back down you'll lose this for generations to come." Eventually, the California legislature passed legislation forbidding a campus administration to take over auxiliary businesses unless there were gross improprieties.

Chela Patterson, Student Affairs, recalls a keynote address Faris-Rees gave at a leadership conference. She compared leadership to the good manners of opening a door and holding it open so others can step through. Sometimes, a leader also holds the hand of the person to help him or her through that door.

Faris-Rees participated in civic groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Butte Community Action Agency. For eight years she served on the Chico Unified School District school board. As her health declined, she continued to attend board meetings, often resting during the day, reserving her strength for the evening meeting. She received numerous awards for outstanding community leadership, including the Maggie Award from the CSU, Chico Women's Center for outstanding women leaders, the Golden Oak Award from the PTA, and the Athena Award from the Chamber of Commerce. Shortly before her death, she was inducted into the Chico Education Hall of Fame.

The Jackie Faris-Rees Institute for Student Leadership is raising funds to endow the institute. Over the next year, the institute will be raising money, drafting goals, creating an advisory board, and deciding how to fund leadership opportunities. The general goals of the institute include providing leadership training and experiences to students, helping students discover their own leadership potential, preparing students to be lifelong leaders, and providing leadership training to alums and precollegiate students. As of January 2001, more than $16,000 of the $100,000 endowment goal has been raised.

You can send donations to:
   JFR Institute for Student Leadership
   University Development and Advancement Services
   CSU, Chico
   Chico, CA 95929-0155

For more information, call Kim DuFour at 530-898-4466 or e-mail kdufour@csuchico.edu.

     
   



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