Visit the 125th website

Part of belonging to a university is knowing and appreciating its unique history, symbols, images, songs, and other traditions. As a member of California State University, Chico's student body, alumni, staff, faculty, or as a University friend, you are part of a long and rich history, now 125 years, with many stories and traditions we are proud of.


What’s in a Name

CSU, Chico has had a succession of names in its 125-year history, and you may be able to date an alum by the name he or she uses when referring to the University, which has been known by the following names:

  • Northern Branch State Normal School of California (1887-1921)
  • Chico State Teachers College (1921-1935)
  • Chico State College (1935-1972)
  • California State University, Chico (1972-today)

Since the early days, a commonly used name has been "Chico State."

School Colors

The school colors are cardinal and white, worn proudly by many as a "Block C" for Chico.

The University Logo

CSU, Chico's eminent graphic design professor Gregg Berryman was commissioned to design a logo for the University. The logo Berryman created was put in place in 1972 at the same time the school changed its name from Chico State College to California State University, Chico. It was designed to suggest a flaming torch of learning, a growing plant or tree, a book or a scroll, or a human shape. CSU, Chico was the first university in the CSU system to develop an integrated visual identification system.

The University Seal

In 1992, Gregg Berryman created the current University Seal. It features a stylized drawing of Kendall Hall and the Bell Tower of Trinity Hall. The Romanesque architecture of these two buildings and Laxson Auditorium contribute to the old-world ambience of our campus. They remain an architectural influence for even our newest campus buildings. The Latin words "ARS PROBAT ARTIFICEM" mean "Art is the test of the artisan.

The Wildcat

The Wildcat became Chico's mascot in 1924. It was adopted by the student body because, according to recollections of those who were around at the time, it typified the kind of sassy, spitfire vigor and vitality the students wanted to project.

It may be only coincidence that the year before a sassy spitfire of a coach named Art Acker had taken on a not-too-promising looking team and within two years had whipped them into a fire-spitting unit that came off the field at season's end with the West Coast Championship tucked triumphantly under their arms. At any rate, the wily Art soundly supported the student's choice of mascot. The spirit of the wildcat had caught on.

At first there was a real live mascot - a wild kitten captured in the woods around Burney Falls, the team took it to its heart and carried it onto the playing field in a cage. Its yowls and hisses spurred them into a frenzy of endeavor. But the wildcat was a free spirit. Cages were not for him. He went to an early grave mourning his freedom, but not before his spirit had instilled itself into the halls and athletic grounds of the school. The spirit of the wildcat lived on.

The mascot first appeared on the pages of the Chico yearbook, The Record, in 1925. Its first portrayal was that of a formalized, lean and crouching feline with a defiant curl to its lips. In later years, under a generation weaned on the animals of Disneyland, it took on a sly, mischievous grin and metamorphosed into the prank-playing gremlin of SOX and the '50s.

The '60s came and went and in the earnestness of the times, the picaresque symbol faded into hiatus. Grounded in the realism of the '70s, the Chico Alumni Association spearheaded a revival of the original Lynx rufus -the wildcat of nature. The spirit of the Chico Wildcat was captured in a painting by nationally acclaimed wildlife artist Gene Gray, commissioned by California State University, Chico. In 2000, campus illustrator Chris Ficken updated the wildcat image.

The Orion

The Orion is perhaps the most honored college newspaper in the country. So honored, in fact, that it was named to the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame in 2005 for being a winner of or finalist for the coveted Pacemaker Award 18 times since 1988. The Orion continues to win numerous national and regional awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award and the National Newspaper Association General Excellence Award.

University Logo

University logo

University Seal

University seal

Willie the Wildcat

Willie the Wildcat