College of Natural Sciences

History of the College

We began as the School of Natural Sciences which eventually became the College of Natural Sciences when in 1967, individual departments split off with their own departments, staff and chairs. The Life Sciences building was completed in 1972. As part of a peak in building construction from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, the new life sciences complex was constructed. The five million dollar project began in late 1969 and was built in three sections over a period of time. The 62,401 square foot building was designed with three stories of faculty offices, classrooms, lecture rooms, and laboratories. A herbarium, a temperature controlled room, was included in the design so that plant specimens could be dried and mounted for further study.

With a capacity for 370 students, the building included a 170-seat lecture hall, which was the biggest on campus at the time. The architect for the project was John Carl Warnecke and Associates of San Francisco, and the contractor was Continental Heller Corporation. Faculty member William L. Stephens helped plan the life science facility. To make room for the new building, Sol-Wil-Le-No Avenue was removed and replaced with foot and bike paths between the creek and the construction area. Completed in 1972, the building was dedicated as Vesta Holt Hall in 1974.

Vesta Holt served as a Chico State faculty member from 1926 to 1957. She became head of the Biology Department in 1931 and later the chair of the Division of Natural Sciences. Holt published various guides and manuals for biology education, many focusing on her specialty of botany. The first paid sabbatical for a Chico State faculty member was given to Holt in 1953. She founded Omicron Theta Epsilon in 1927 and also created the Eagle Lake Biological Station. Shortly after her death in 1970, the life sciences complex was dedicated in her honor.

The College of Natural Sciences consists of seven academic departments, One School, three Centers of Excellence, and the Gateway Science Museum. As of the Fall 2017 semester, the college includes approximately 175 full-time equivalent faculty, including 100 tenured / tenure-track and FERP faculty. Our dedicated staff includes 45 administrative support staff, technical staff and management personnel. We currently serve approximately 3,151 full-time equivalent students.