Our Identity

What’s in a Name

CSU, Chico has had a succession of names in its long history, and you may be able to date an alum by the name they use 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.

The University Logo

CSU, Chico graphic design professor Gregg Berryman designed the "flame logo" that 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

Berryman created the original University Seal, which features a stylized drawing of Kendall Hall and the Bell Tower of Trinity Hall. The seal was slightly revised by Berryman's protegé and graphic designer Alan Rellaford in 2017. The Romanesque architecture of the two buildings and Laxson Auditorium contribute to the old-world ambience of our campus and 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 by a vote of the student body. Maxon Mellinger, who was a fan of the Northwestern Wildcats, submitted the winning name. 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.

At first there was a real live mascot—a wild kitten captured in the woods around Burney Falls. The team took it to 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 SOCS, whose name is an abbreviation of the "Spirit of Chico State." 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 school's newspaper was also called The Wildcat until the mid 1970s.

The spirit of the Chico Wildcat was captured in a painting (JPG) by nationally acclaimed wildlife artist Gene Gray (JPG), commissioned by California State University, Chico. And, in 2000, campus illustrator Chris Ficken updated the wildcat image, and Willie the Wildcat was born.

The circle version of the Wildcat symbol was created by graphic design student Anna Giacometti in 1989, and a modernized logo created for Chico State Athletics was introduced in 2014.

CSU, Chico's nickname, Wildcats, was established in 1924 by a vote of the student body. A live wildcat mascot, donated to the school by athlete and 1925 alum E.R. Deering, first arrived on campus in 1928. The cat's first appearance at a basketball game included his nipping the leg of a referee and nervously answering the "call of nature" on the basketball court. Despite this somewhat embarrassing beginning, the Wildcat has endured as a symbol and mascot for the institution, whose students and alums proudly refer to themselves as Wildcats. The current version of the Wildcat symbol was created by graphic design student Anna Giacometti in 1989.