Giving to Chico State

Ben Witt

Ben Witt works to engage alumni and friends of Chico State in growing and enhancing the quality of the College of Business through engagement and philanthropic support of faculty, students, and staff.

He coordinates annual events, such as Executives on Campus and Biz Talks, that bring dedicated, successful alumni back to Chico and into the classrooms and lecture halls of the College of Business. He helps to share news from the college through newsletters, social media, and direct engagement with alumni and friends.

Previously, he was the associate dean of students at Humboldt State University and held student affairs positions at Purdue University and Central Michigan University. He began his career with the United States Secret Service where he served in the White House Division. He is a 2002 graduate of Grand Valley State University, where he received a joint BS in history and criminal justice and served as student body president for two terms. He also holds an MS in administration from Central Michigan University.  

Ben resides in Chico with his wife and two children. In his free time, he enjoys working out, hunting, and fishing.

About Me

Who is your hero? 

One of my heroes would have to be the actor James Earl Jones. We grew up in the same small town in Northern Michigan, generations apart. He was able to overcome a childhood stutter and racial prejudice to grow up to be one of the finest actors in the world. When I was in second grade he read to our class and I will never forget the excitement of going into the gymnasium to hear “Darth Vader” read to us. We were skeptical of the middle-aged, heavyset man sitting there—until he spoke. He has been a hero of mine ever since.

What motivates you to do this work? 

I am motivated to do the challenging and rewarding work of university development because I spent the first part of my career in student affairs. I understand firsthand the financial needs of today's college students. As tuition prices continue to rise and state funding becomes scarcer, the increase in cost is passed on to our students. This work allows me to do my part to bridge the funding gap and strengthen resources for some of the best students in California.

Why do you give to Chico State?

I give back to Chico State because it is my adopted home. My wife is on the faculty and our children will grow up in Chico. Chico State’s success is also the success of the City of Chico and the North State. As our motto says, “Today Decides Tomorrow,” and when I give my resources to make this campus better today, I see an immediate impact on the programs that I care about, which builds a better tomorrow for California.

What's your favorite holiday?

Hands down, my favorite holiday has always been Independence Day. I consider myself lucky to live in this great nation and love to celebrate our nation with friends, family, barbecue, water, and fireworks! It also happens to be the day that I married the love of my life, so we always get the day off on our anniversary!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus is the rose garden.

Favorite thing to do at Bidwell Park?

My favorite thing to do in Bidwell Park is to run on the trails.

What was your first job?

My first job out of college was working for the US Secret Service in Washington, DC. I was posted at the White House during the early years of the administration of George W. Bush. It was an awesome experience and I loved spending time there at night. Feeling the history and being allowed to walk around the grounds was an experience I will never forget. Though I have moved on, I have the utmost respect for the men and women that serve our country and safeguard our democracy.

What’s your proudest accomplishment so far?

My proudest accomplishment is being the best husband and father that I can be.

What would you sing at Karaoke night?

I would sing “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey . . . and it would be awful.

What two radio stations do you listen to in the car the most?

I love all kinds of music from country to rock to Motown. The two radio stations that I listen to the most are on Sirius XM. The first is E Street Radio because I can never hear enough Springsteen. The second is Lithium because my '90s alternative rock never gets old!

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?

If I were a superhero I would want to be Iron Man because, if I got sick of saving the world, I could just take off the suit and be done for the day. It would be tough to lead a normal life with spider-sense, heat vision, or psychic abilities.

If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join?

There is no question that I would join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I don’t know if the Boss needs someone on trumpet, but I did play for a few years in high school!