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A magazine from California State University, Chico -- On-line Edition  
Fall 2005
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From the President’s DeskPresident Zingg

Promoting Stewardship

This issue of Chico Statements focuses on two topics that underscore what it means for the University to translate a keen sense of place into future-focused and values-guided performance.

Sustainability is about our future and our responsibility to develop environmentally literate citizens and to promote the effective stewardship of our resources. It is about recognizing our obligations to develop principles and adopt practices that foster greater sensitivity to environmental issues and enable a better standard of living for those who follow us. It is about respecting the trust placed in us to care about our planet and our heritage.

We all recognize that one of the strongest hallmarks of our university is the beautiful and engaging physical environment of our campus. It is a unique setting, rich in history and harmony between its natural and built elements. Emphasizing and preserving this distinctiveness is a central tenet of our recently approved Master Plan by the CSU Board of Trustees. At the heart of the Master Plan is a recognition that the physical design and features of the campus should reinforce our educational mission.

We do this not only through landscaping, building placement, open space, and a pleasing architectural vocabulary, but also through the choices we make regarding construction and maintenance. An important choice we have made is to design all new and renovation projects to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This is, in effect, the national standard for sustainability practices. Our commitment to this standard signals not only our goal to make Chico State the “green” campus of California, but also our approach to “teach” sustainability through institutional example.

The relationship with the Mechoopda is also about obligations predicated on respect and history that have been formed through shared space. In October, the University signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the Mechoopda that pledged mutual dialogue and cooperation in the further development of the campus. In essence, the agreement affirms that we will work together to protect the cultural heritage of the tribal community wherever evidence of that heritage manifests itself. The environments of Big Chico Creek and the Bidwell Mansion site are examples of two particularly sensitive areas that the agreement will govern.

As LEED certification is more than a sustainability issue, the agreement with the Mechoopda is more than an expression of good neighborliness. Both matters speak to values that are firmly rooted in the land. Both actions challenge our trustworthiness and vision. We aim to be true to our word in respecting our environment and those who share it with us and to be clear in our goal to provide exemplary behavior as a steward and a partner.

How we align our actions with our values is a measurement of our integrity and quality. The University’s sustainability agenda and its relationship with the Mechoopda are clear indications of this alignment. They contribute to the larger story of a university fully aware of its responsibilities and keenly committed to fulfilling its promises.