California State University

Welcome to California State University, Chico

Cal State, Chico is the second-oldest campus in the California State University system. It is located in Chico, California, about ninety miles north of Sacramento. California State University, Chico is commonly known as Chico State or Cal State, Chico.


On March 12, 1887, a legislative act was enacted to create the Northern Branch State Normal School of California. Less than a month later, Chico was chosen as the location. On June 24, 1887, General John Bidwell donated 8 acres (32,000 m²) of land from his cherry orchard. Then on July 4, 1888, the first cornerstone was laid. On September 3, 1889, doors opened for the 90 enrolled students. The library opened on January 11, 1890 with 350 books. On June 20, 1891 the first graduation took place, a class of 15.

In 1910, Annie Bidwell donated an additional two acres (8,000 m²) of land to be used for work with elementary agriculture. The next year Mrs. Bidwell donated an orange orchard lot 55 x 440 feet (130 m) as the children’s playground, which is connected to the Training School. Twenty years later in 1921, legislation was enacted to change the school’s name to Chico State Teacher’s College. In 1922, Chico State Teacher’s College added a junior college curriculum and awarded a certificate after two years. Also in 1922 Bidwell Mansion was turned into a women’s dormitory, Bidwell Hall. In 1923 the first college paper, The Collegian was published. In 1924, the state board of education allowed the school to grant baccalaureate degrees. Also in 1924, the wildcat was chosen as the mascot. In 1925 the alumni organization was founded. In 1927 a fire destroyed the Normal Building. That same year a gym was built on the grounds of Bidwell Mansion. In 1929, the corner stone for the new administration building was laid on top of Normal Building’s original corner stone. In 1929 the student bookstore was established.

Chico State campus in the spring

California State University

In 1935, Bidwell Hall was turned into a recreation and student center – the first student union. Also in 1935 a legislative act changed the college name from Chico State Teachers College to Chico State College. In 1937 evening classes started on campus and athletic fields were purchased from the Chico Board of Education. In 1939, chimes were installed in library tower. Sororities held a fund drive to raise $600 for them. In 1940 the college offered civilian pilot classes.

In 1948, dorms for 200 male students were set up on west side of Warner

Street. The buildings were built during World War II and were used as bachelor quarters for a Marine Hospital in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They were brought to Chico State in sections and reconstructed in the spring of 1948. The two story barrack-like structures had 36 rooms, each occupied by 4 students. North Hall later became a girls dormitory. The speech and debate team was founded by Herbert Rae, Speech & Drama Department Chair.

In 1950, California’s governor allowed state colleges to grant Master of Arts degrees. In 1951 the college reorganized from 18 departments into seven divisions with chairmen. Then in 1956 a new flagpost and sign for in front of Kendall Hall was donated by the class of 1956. In the following year, 1957, a new cafeteria was built the rose gardens were planted. In 1958 the first “telecourse” was taught, Psychology 51.

KCSC, a student run radio station launched, broadcasting old-time radio dramas on the campus public address system was launched in 1951.

In 1972, Chico State College became California State University, Chico as a result of legislation passed in 1971.

In 1975, broadcasts of classes through closed circuit TV were used for the first time by residents in Oroville, Marysville and Colusa. Also in 1975, The Orion, the campus student newspaper published its first issue. In 1977, the other campus paper, The Wildcat, changed its name to Chico News and Review and moved off campus to become an independent publication. In 1978 bike riding was restricted on campus.

Chico State’s the library was renamed for Ted Meriam in 1981. Notably, the 75th Pioneer Days was held in 1985, but the event was cancelled in 1987, ostensibly because of a riot.

In 1997 Wild Oak Music Group, an independent record company, was founded and is run by the Music Industry students within the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

In 1989 The Orion wins the National Pacemaker Award, the first of nine the paper has won. CSU Chico opened its first sub-campus in Redding, affiliated with Shasta College, in 2007.

Chico State’s Kendall (Administration) Hall

In 2005, student Matt Carrington was hazed to death at the Chi Tau house, which had previously been expelled from the university in 2001 due to violations. Carrington died as a result of water intoxication during a hazing session involving the victim being forced to exercise and drink large quantities of water. Currently, there are six on-campus dorms. Whitney, Shasta and Lassen halls are on the main campus, while Esken, Mechoopda and Konkow are near the athletic fields about a block and a half away from the main campus. Whitney, Shasta and Lassen are named after the major mountains in Northern California, and the others are named after Indian tribes which used to inhabit the area. University Village or “UV” is a university-owned dorm about a mile off campus. Currently, the University is building another dormitory, to be named Sutter Hall, between Whitney Hall and Lassen and Shasta Halls.

Chico State is known for academic excellence in engineering, science, computing, business, technology, environmental studies, and communication.



  • 6th Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (2008)
  • 4th Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (2007)
  • 4th Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (2006)
  • 3rd Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (2005)
  • 3rd Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (200
  • 4th Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (2003)
  • 3rd Best Public Master’s Level University in the West (2002)

California State University

Chico State campus: Laxson Auditorium


  • Chico State the 8th Most Sustainable College Campus in the World from Grist Magazine (2007)
  • 2nd Most Sustainable College Campus in the United States of America
  • 2nd party school in U.S., Playboy, (2002) (Chico State did not rank on Playboy’s subsequent list)
  • 1st party school in U.S., Playboy, (1987)


Chico State has more than 50 Departments and offers more than 150 undergraduate degrees. The school has several libraries, including Meriam Library, which has several special collections of Native American and Californian history.

Chico State is also home to a very nice Theatre department. The student run theatre organization is Ink Blot Arts whose philosophy and mission is to bring theatre to the community in a way that will speak to most people.


The school’s athletic director is Anita Barker. The school competes in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Chico State baseball team plays at Nettleton Stadium and has won the NCAA Division II World Series in 1997 and 1999 and appeared in the title game in 2002, 2006.

The school sponsors soccer, basketball, cross country, golf, and track and field for both men and women. The school sponsors softball and volleyball for women, and baseball for men. The school finished third in the 2004-2005 NACDA Director’s Cup. In 1997 Chico State ended its football program citing rising insurance costs.

CSU Chico won the NCAA Division II national championships in men’s swimming and diving in 1973, 1974 and 1976. The program was eliminated several years after the 1976 national championship season. The men’s soccer program lost in the title game in 2003.

In 2001 the women’s rugby team won a Division 1 national championship.

Service and recognition

California State University, Chico has once again been designated as a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. This honor, the second in a row for CSU, Chico, highlights the University’s civic engagement activities during 2007.

In 2006, the year the community service honor roll program was launched, CSU, Chico was one of 10 schools to be a finalist for President George W. Bush’s Higher Education Community Service Award for Excellence in General Community Service. In 2006-07 CSU, Chico was first among 215 colleges and universities in the U.S. by raising a record $187,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the largest childhood cancer research center in the world. CSU, Chico also set records for the highest number of participants writing the highest number of letters on behalf of St. Jude.

CSU, Chico has set records for the number of volunteers taking part to raise money (2,021) and the number of letters sent out requesting support (in excess of 37,000).

Among the civic engagement programs at CSU, Chico are Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) and Community Legal Information Center (CLIC). CAVE student volunteers help more than 30,000 clients annually, and CLIC student volunteers provide free referrals and legal information to more than 13,000 clients.

The Orion is Chico State’s nationally acclaimed school newspaper, and has been named (on several occasions) the number one weekly collegiate publication.


The Chico State Motto, “Today decides tomorrow”

California State University

CSU, Chico has received a number of honors for its leadership role in sustainability and environmental awareness and education. CSU, Chico’s Green Campus Program won the Best Practices award for Student Energy Efficiency in the CSU in April 2008. In 2007, the University was awarded the Grand Prize by the National Wildlife Federation for efforts to reduce global warming.

The University was ranked on a list of 15 colleges and universities around the world cited for their leadership in sustainability and environmental programs. Grist Magazine, a well-known Web-based environmental news and commentary publication, has placed CSU, Chico on its list of “15 Green Colleges and Universities.”The DailyGreen, a popular Web site that bills itself as “The consumer’s guide to the green revolution,” has featured CSU, Chico in a list of 10 top colleges and universities that includes Harvard University, Duke University, Middlebury College and Oberlin College.

Chico Professor Jeff Price, shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and is also Senior Fellow for Climate Change and Biodiversity at the United Nations Environment Program – World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC).

CSU, Chico University Printing Services has been awarded Forest Stewardship Council chain-of-custody certification by Scientific Certification Systems (certificate number SCS-COC-001517), supporting CSU, Chico’s campuswide commitment to sustainability. CSU, Chico is one of the first universities in the country to receive this certification.

CSU, Chico’s executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Development is Scott McNall. Complete information on the University’s involvement in sustainable issues is listed on the Sustainable News Web site.

Cultural references

In contrast, to its original founding on land donated by John Bidwell, a prohibitionist, the university has been portrayed as a party school on television. On Seth McFarlane’s American Dad! Chico is claimed as the #1 party school. In addition, in 1997 on King of the Hill, Bobby Hill’s girlfriend Connie says, “I want to go to a party school..yeah Chico State!” There was also an episode of “Saturday night live” Where they show students partying hardcore and they were in Chico State.


Demographics of student body
African American 2.1%
Asian American 5.7%
White American 65.6%
Hispanic American 11.9%
Native American 1.0%
International 1.8%
Ethnicity unreported/unknown 12.0%

Male to Female Percentage: Male 46% – Female 54%[citation needed]

Fight Song

Chico State Chico State Fight Song

Hail to Chico State
She’s our dear old alma mater
Where our teams so great
lead us on to victory
Rah Rah Rah
Where our men are square
and our fair coeds are fairer
Come let us give a cheer
for dear old Chico State




Name Known for Relationship to Chico
John Gardner (novelist) Author Professor of English
Michael Gillis Historian Lecturer in history
Janja Lalich Sociologist Professor of Sociology
Harold Lang Dancer and actor Professor of dance, 1970-1985
Peveril Meigs Geographer Professor of geography, 1929-1942
Nicholas Nagy-Talavera Historian Professor of History, 1967-1991
Michael Perelman Author Professor of Economics
Jeff Price Shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Ivan Sviták Philosopher, Critic, Poet Professor of Philosophy, 1970-1990
Janet Turner Artist Professor of Art, 1959-1983

School presidents

  • Edward Timothy Pierce, 1889-1893
  • Robert F. Pennell, 1893-1897
  • Carleton M. Ritter, 1893-1897
  • Charles C. Van Liew, 1899-1910
  • Allison Ware, 1910-1917
  • Elmer Isaiah Miller, 1910, 1917-1918
  • Charles Osenbaugh, 1918-1930
  • Clarence Knight Studley, 1930-1931
  • Rudolph D. Lindquist, 1931-1931
  • Aymer Jay Hamilton, 1931-1950
  • George Glenn Kendall, 1950-1966
  • Robert Eugene Hill, 1966-1970
  • Lew Dwight Oliver, 1970-1971
  • Stanford Cazier, 1971-1979
  • Robert L. Fredenburg, 1979-1980
  • Robin Wilson, 1980-1993
  • Manuel A. Esteban, 1993-2003
  • Scott McNall, 2003-2004
  • Paul Zingg, 2004-present

Official University


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