Office of the President

May 15, 2020 – Wildcats Show Strength Throughout Challenging Semester

To: Campus Community
From: President Gayle Hutchinson

We are coming to the end of an extremely difficult semester.

As a community, we have faced challenges at Chico State that no one could have imagined prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we have pushed through uncomfortable and disappointing decisions. I can’t let this moment pass without offering a sincere congratulations for your perseverance through what may easily be the most challenging semester of your life. Whether you are a student wrapping up your first year at Chico State, a faculty member finishing your first class taught via online, a staff member providing student services or moving strategic priorities forward via telework, or one of more than 4,000 graduates of the Class of 2020, you have achieved so much under the most daunting of circumstances.

To our graduates, I look forward to sharing our online celebration with you today (May 15) at 4 p.m. You have worked hard and nothing can diminish your accomplishments. The virtual Commencement is a celebration for you, your family, and friends, but it is not the end of our celebration of you. We hope you will return to Chico State in May 2021 for a commencement ceremony all your own where we can give you the pomp and circumstance you so richly deserve.

This week, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced that the vast majority of courses will be delivered virtually in fall 2020 at all 23 CSU campuses. Chico State will offer most of its courses online with exceptions for a few experiential courses, which will be delivered in blended virtual and in-person formats while adhering to guidelines for health and safety.

The decision for fall was made with the best science and public health forecasts in mind. “The nonpartisan academic researchers, and medical and public health experts, forecast a second smaller wave later in summer, followed by a very significant wave coupled with influenza forecast for late fall, and another wave in the first quarter of 2021,” Chancellor White said in his announcement. “Experts also point out that immunity in the population is now approaching the 2 to 3% range, and needs to be in the 60 to 80% percent range to begin to achieve the so-called `herd immunity.’ That won’t happen in the next 18 months, and there’s no vaccine yet. And while hope springs eternal, it is unlikely that one will become widely available during the coming academic year.”

While Butte County’s COVID-19 cases remain low, the University draws students from around the state. A day on campus poses the potential exposure to hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals, and the risk of the virus is too great at this time.

Chico State will share details about plans for the fall as they become available. While the majority of courses and support services will be delivered virtually, we will determine and share a list of blended online and in-person courses and services soon. We are working hard to finalize the revised class schedule and are committed to providing our continuing students an additional opportunity to amend or modify schedules, if necessary. We heard students’ feedback regarding the hits and misses with online learning this spring, and we expect to provide a more robust online learning experience in the fall—with improved accessibility and real-time online classes to help you stay on track.

Despite the change in delivery methods for courses and support services, the University remains steadfastly committed to its mission to provide academic excellence and promote student success while ever mindful of the need to keep our community safe.

We have learned so much in the past two months. Our faculty and staff undertook a monumental task when we transitioned to online learning and teleworking. Over the summer, faculty will build on their experiences and explore expanded options for future course delivery.

I understand the significant anxiety that many are facing relative to health, work, and wellbeing. Students have the added concern over academic progress, uprooted living situations, and planning for a fall semester that is not anyone’s first choice.

The virus remains unpredictable and uncertainty prevails. However, in the face of adversity, we have once again demonstrated our resilience. I will close on a positive note, highlighting some of the extraordinary work that continues to take place at Chico State every day.

• A multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional team received a $2.2 million National Science Foundation Grant for the project to train faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses to launch the Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) model into University classrooms over the next five years.

• The National Science Foundation awarded a 2020 Early Career Award of $430,000 to Heywon Pechkis, assistant professor of Physics.

• Classroom visits took place prior to the closing of campus to honor our Outstanding Faculty. Watch a video of these presentations here.

• Chico State's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee pushed forward with their project on mental-health awareness and support, despite limitations due to shelter-at-home restrictions. Information about their Scratch the Stigma campaign can be found here.

• In an effort to meet a public health need, Chico State professors and students worked with Idea Fab Labs, a Chico tech company, and Enloe Medical Center to produce face shields for Enloe medical personnel using 3D printers. A campus laboratory was opened up where an injection molding system could be used to increase production from 100 shields a week to now making 3,000 a week. Read more here.

• And, as we continue to forge ahead, Chico State will offer a “Go Virtual Summer Institute” for faculty to explore ways of convert existing classes into effective online or blended courses. Under guidance from a faculty mentor experienced and adept at teaching online, faculty will have time to develop their respective online or blended courses. Institute goals include: improving the virtual experience for both students and faculty, and maximizing learning, engagement, and success. This Institute totals almost three weeks: nearly five days of institute sessions with embedded cohort meetings, and nine days of work time to design and digitize content and materials. More than 260 faculty have applied for the Institute so far, and over 45 applied as faculty mentors. That is nearly one-third of all faculty at Chico State.

These achievements should provide inspiration and motivation as we head into summer. Yes, I know we all want to return to our beautiful campus, and one day we will. Until then, Chico State is more committed than ever to continuing to provide students with academic excellence and comprehensive services to ensure their success. Fall unfortunately will be far from normal, but the Chico State family will remain resilient and committed to each other. Congratulations once again on finishing out the semester and thank you for your dedication and commitment.

Throughout the summer we will continue to communicate via email, though messages are likely to be less frequent. You can check out the COVID-19 News and Information website at any time for current information.

Be well and stay safe.