Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

William Loker, PhD


Department of Anthropology
Academic Affairs


Chico State’s national reputation as an innovator in student success is due in large part to the leadership of professor and former dean, William “Bill” Loker.

While serving as dean of undergraduate education, and in other administrative posts, Loker was responsible for overseeing the redesign, approval, and implementation of the campus general education program; initiating and/or implementing features of the First-Year Experience (FYE) program; and helping institute rigorous assessment processes to make evidence-based decisions across all levels of the University.

These institution-wide innovations led to inquiries and visits from other universities looking to make similar changes, as well as numerous scholarly articles and media stories discussing Chico State’s role as a leader in educational effectiveness.

In particular, FYE, designed to help students transition successfully to college life, has become a well-established success on campus that has been imitated at other universities. In collaboration with Professor Thia Wolf and others, Loker also helped devise and champion “U-Courses,” which feature project-based, collaborative learning, and high-impact practices like the Town Hall Meeting, the Chico Great Debate, and the Book in Common.

“Dr. Loker has been responsible for initiating, leading, directing, and assessing programs that now so characterize Chico’s dedication to student learning and student success,” said former dean and vice provost, Arno Rethans.

Loker played a key part in developing many significant campus efforts, including the Chico Student Success Center, Office of Civic Engagement, the Honors Program, and the University’s Graduation Initiative Plan. In collaboration with Professor Frank Li, he also expanded international enrollments on campus and strengthened opportunities for Chico State students to study abroad.

Loker joined the Department of Anthropology as an assistant professor in 1996 and became full professor in 2003. Along with serving as department chair, he taught a wide range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also did extensive fieldwork in Honduras and elsewhere in Latin America, studying the political ecology of rural development.

In 2004, Loker served as interim associated dean of the School of Graduate, International and Interdisciplinary Studies. The following year he became dean of undergraduate education, beginning a 13-year stint working in the Academic Affairs administration.

Prior to joining the Chico State faculty, Loker was an assistant professor at Mississippi State University and lecturer at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He completed his undergraduate work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and earned his master’s degree and PhD at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Portrait of William Loker, PhD