A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
Sept 16, 2010 Volume 41 / Number 1


From the President's Desk


Video Links

Watch the 2010 Convocation video
Chico State flash mob dance


Our academic year began with a shout. Literally.

With about 2,000 students and their parents assembled in the Student Services Center plaza on the Friday before classes began, the program they were attending was suddenly interrupted by the sounds of the Isley Brothers belting out their 1960s hit “Shout!” As the opening bars of the song filled the sunny scene, a lone, young woman whirled in the middle of the throng and threw her arms exuberantly into the air. Within seconds she was joined by scores of other dancers who joined her movements in perfect harmony. By the time the song had ended a few minutes later, the apparently impromptu dance had attracted nearly 200 students, faculty, and staff who had drifted and synched into the performance.

Chico State had just had its first “flash mob,” and the whole event can be viewed on YouTube or from the University’s website (see link at right).

Check it out. If you were part of it, it’s a great memory. If you were not, you’ll be amazed at the energy and joy of the moment.

The day before I had hinted in my Opening Convocation address that something special was going to happen in the plaza on Friday. I concluded those remarks (which can be read at http://www.csuchico.edu/prs/about/pubs/index.shtml or viewed by clicking link at right) by noting that “for something completely different—yet very Chico—please show up in the Student Services Center plaza tomorrow at 11:00. Who knows, you may find something worth shouting about.”

Well, anyone who made it did.

Veteran members of our community and newcomers alike delighted in the moment and the message. We are a place of community and joy—a place dedicated to the success of our students and the service of our region and state and a place sustained by the positive spirit that guides our work together.

There is abundant evidence that we are succeeding and that others are noticing. US News & World Report has again ranked us among the top half-dozen public colleges and universities in the West. Forbes magazine placed us among the top 100 public colleges and universities in the nation and noted that our graduates rank 28th among these institutions for their mid-career salaries. An important veterans organization declared us a “military friendly” institution, a designation which only 15 percent of colleges and universities in the country receive. Our efforts to promote civic engagement, community service, and sustainability routinely earn us accolades within the CSU and beyond through grant support and invitations to showcase the Chico story.

Let me share just two examples from my own travels this summer. In July, I caught up with Larry Bassow and some of our students in Memphis, Tennessee, where they were again being honored for leading all higher education institutions in the nation for fundraising to support children’s cancer research at St. Jude. After four years' running as national champions, our students are rock stars there, constantly being praised for a record that amazes and inspires.

A few weeks later, I joined Professor Tanya Komas and several of her students in the concrete industry management program who were spending their summer on Alcatraz Island assisting in research and restoration efforts of that landmark facility. They had received an invitation from the National Park Service to do this in part because of similarly praiseworthy work a couple of years ago at Pointe de Hoc in Normandy, France. Again, I cannot tell you how proud I am of them and our University by the quality of their work and the high regard for it.

Things to shout about? Without a doubt.

Our pride and joy in these matters—and the countless other testimonials to the Chico story which fill our website, announcements, news releases, and publications every day—do not make us blind to the enormous challenges we also face every day. We are, for example, as displeased with the ongoing budget impasse in Sacramento as we are with the drunken and unruly behavior of some of our students, as the Labor Day weekend police blotter sadly details. Both frustrate our story because the former prevents us from making it more grand and the latter detracts from making it more complete.

So, shout we will—for the resources we have earned, for the expectations we have raised, for the values we have embraced, for the promise we have delivered. We shout not just to be loud, but to be heard.

So, in the immortal words of the Isley Brothers, “You know [Chico State], you make me wanna shout!”

Paul J. Zingg, President