Chico: Serving the North State for More Than 100 Years
Alturas, Hayfork, Whiskeytown, Susanville, Willows,
Forbestown, Cherokee, Quincy, and Ukiah are just a few of the towns
in CSU, Chico’s service region, a region as large as the state
of Ohio. Our region is distinct from other areas in California,
not just in terms of its size, but in terms of its history, patterns
of settlement, and economic base. We serve a rural area of small
towns whose economies were, and in some cases still are, rooted
in the timber industry, agriculture, and ranching. We also serve
a region richly diverse in historical and developing ethnic communities.
more than 100 years, CSU, Chico has reached out to our immediate
community and beyond to provide higher education for generations
of college-bound students. Faculty, staff, and students from Chico
have devoted countless hours to helping communities throughout Northern
California meet a gamut of needs for training programs and expert
consultation in all areas of life. We are the university of the
Recently, CSU campuses were asked by the chancellor to assess the
impact they have on their region or community. How does a university
change lives? Make a difference? Meet the needs of industry? Provide
leadership and innovation?
lives. Changing lives is what a university is all about. CSU, Chico
has offered hope and opportunity to many nontraditional and first-generation
students who might never have made it to college without encouragement
and academic and, sometimes, financial support. One example of a
program dedicated to this task is the Mathematics, Engineering,
Science Achievement (MESA) Engineering Program (MEP), which has
worked for more than 20 years to recruit and retain underrepresented
and educationally disadvantaged students in engineering, computer
science, and technology. The MESA Schools Program (MSP) serves more
than 200 students a year in six high schools and two middle schools
in our region, provides teacher training, and sponsors math and
science competitions. The program has an unprecedented rate of success.
In 2000–2001, more than 70 percent (1,040) of MESA students
went on to college, compared to 49 percent of all high school graduates
in the state.
connections of both our faculty and staff to the local educational
community are so substantial that they almost defy summary. In 2000,
we put together a 50-page directory of formal and informal school
connections. Chico has nine subject matter projects, for example,
which provide in-service training to K–12 teachers. Overall,
the campus currently has more than 100 funded K–12 projects.
University Public Events brings more than 25,000 grade school children
to campus each year for performances. Thousands more come to visit
campus museums, the planetarium, and events such as Ag Day and Fun
a difference. How do we improve the quality of life in our region
and make the community a more desirable place? The Associated Students
took the lead more than 30 years ago when they formed CAVE (Community
Action Volunteers in Education). This year, 1,527 students provided
64,500 hours of community service to 83 different organizations.
service and service learning are also integral parts of many of
our academic programs. The School of Nursing sponsors service-learning
projects to benefit the health needs of high-risk groups with prevention
projects for blindness and sudden infant death syndrome, tobacco
use, and tuberculosis. Other projects have provided education for
breast feeding and milk bank programs and heath care for the homeless.
The faculty in the Nutrition and Food Science Program oversee a
network of projects to improve the nutrition of children from ethnically
diverse and low-income populations.
needs. The College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction
Management works with cities and counties to pursue new businesses,
linking them with the research strengths of the University. Congressional
funds, totaling $1 million, were obtained to develop a plastics
program and laboratory, which also has industrial support.
The state-funded Agricultural Research Initiative matches funds
from industry partners. College of Agriculture projects have benefited
the entire community, offering solutions to rice straw burning,
agricultural waste management, and the improvement of water quality.
In addition, the college has many creative partnerships, such as
one with Sierra Nevada Brewery, which is testing the use of brewing
by-products in cattle feed.
Providing leadership. As I once told a group of state employees,
“If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen
first at Chico.” The campus has taken a leadership position
in being the first campus to build an environmentally friendly building—the
new student services center. We have taken the lead in the system
in creating high-quality learning environments in and out of the
classroom; we are leaders in environmental education and in the
sciences; we are among the leaders in using academic technology
to enhance the learning environment; we have more funded projects
that connect us to the K–12 community than any other campus;
we have the richest performing arts series outreach to schools program;
and our campus is among the system leaders in securing grants and
contracts, many of which are focused on helping solve social and
CSU, Chico has a powerful impact on our service region and a long
and proud history of serving the community. Our message continues
to be “We are the university of the North State; we are here
to help; let us know how we can do so.” We want to spread
even wider the message of the rich services we provide and the ways
we can work with communities to continue to create a pathway to
success for children and to improve the quality of life for all
in the North State.