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Chico State Traditions

Part of belonging to a university is knowing and appreciating its unique history, symbols, images, songs, and other traditions. As a member of California State University, Chico's student body, alumni, staff, faculty, or as a University friend, you are part of a long and rich history, more than 100 years, with many stories and traditions we are proud of. Here we present but a few. You will no doubt contribute to the symbols, songs, traditions, and legends of the next 100 years.

John Bidwell's Cherry Orchard

John Bidwell donated his eight-acre cherry orchard to secure the northern branch of the State Normal School for Chico in 1887. The corner boundaries of his cherry orchard are marked today by a planting of cherry trees, each with a plaque that commemorates this gift.

What's in a Name?

CSU, Chico has had a succession of names in its more than 100-year history, and you may be able to date an alum by the name he or she uses when referring to the University, which has been known by the following names:

Northern Branch State Normal School of California (1887-1921)

Chico State Teachers College (1921-1935)

Chico State College (1935-1972)

California State University, Chico (1972-today)

The University Logo

CSU, Chico's eminent graphic design professor Gregg Berryman was commissioned to design a logo for the University. The logo Berryman created was put in place in 1972 at the same time the school changed its name from Chico State College to California State University, Chico. It was designed to suggest a flaming torch of learning, a growing plant or tree, a book or a scroll, or a human shape. CSU, Chico was the first university in the CSU system to develop an integrated visual identification system.

The University Seal

In 1992, Gregg Berryman created the current University Seal. It features a stylized drawing of Kendall Hall and the Bell Tower of Trinity Hall. The Romanesque architecture of these two buildings and Laxson Auditorium contribute to the old-world ambience of our campus. They remain an architectural influence for even our newest campus buildings. The Latin words "ARS PROBAT ARTIFICEM" mean "Art is the test of the artisan."

The University Hymn

In response to a decree made in 1934 by music department head Ruth Rowland Taylor, two student poets, Darlys Partridge and Frances Shier, began work on what would become the University Hymn. They wrote a one-verse song to the music of Finlandia by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Sibelius granted his permission to use the music in exchange for a box of cigars. The song was adopted as the official University Hymn one year later, but the cigars took another 13 years to reach Finland! In 1998, English Professor Emeritus Ernst Schoen-Rene penned the additional two verses in order to “make the [song] more strongly tied to this (and only this) university.”

Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall, built in 1931 and designed by Chester Cole, is an example of Mediterranean church design of the medieval period. The square bell tower resembles campaniles found in Italy. Of special interest are the pairs of twisted columns at its top. Trinity Hall was initially the campus library. Later, it became the Campus Activity Center before the Bell Memorial Union was constructed. Today it is a department and faculty office building.

The Glenn Kendall Carillon

In May 1966, University alumni and friends presented the carillon housed in the bell tower of Trinity Hall to Glenn Kendall, who served as president of Chico State from 1950 to 1966. The carillon is played on special occasions and regularly on the hour and half-hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The words to the hourly carillon tune are:

Ding Dong
Ding Dong
Hear the Bells Chime
High in the Tower
Hark to the Hour

Colusa Hall

Colusa Hall, built in 1921, is the oldest building on campus and the only building that remains of the original State Normal School. It has been completely renovated to meet seismic building codes and is currently under renovation to become a conference facility sometime in the future.

The School Colors

The school colors are cardinal and white, worn proudly by many as a "Block C" for Chico.

Wildcat History

CSU, Chico's nickname, Wildcats, was established in 1924 by a vote of the student body. Maxon Mellinger, who was a fan of the Northwestern Wildcats, submitted the winning name. The school's newspaper was also called The Wildcat until the mid 1970s. A live wildcat mascot, donated to the school by athlete and 1925 alum E.R. Deering, first arrived on campus in 1928. The cat's first appearance at a basketball game included his nipping the leg of a referee and nervously answering the "call of nature" on the basketball court. Despite this somewhat embarrassing beginning, the Wildcat has endured as a symbol and mascot for the institution, whose students and alums proudly refer to themselves as Wildcats. The current version of the Wildcat symbol was created by graphic design student Anna Giacometti in 1989.

Time Capsules

The numbers in the sidewalks at the entrance to Kendall Hall cover time capsules prepared by each class year. This tradition was discontinued in 1969, and rekindled in 2000 with the help of the Associated Students and Alumni Association.

Building Names and Special Places

Many buildings on campus are named after the counties in our service area: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Sierra, Siskiyou, Shasta, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba Halls. A few are named after their primary function or activity: the Center for Regional and Continuing Education, the Performing Arts Center, the Physical Science Building, the Student Health Center, and the University Housing and Food Service.

One residence hall is named after Mt. Whitney (because it's the tallest and next to Shasta and Lassen Halls), and three halls after the local Indian tribes of Esken, Konkow, and Mechoopda.

Several buildings and places are dedicated to faculty, alumni, or friends of the University. These individuals contributed significantly to the history and traditions of our university.

Acker GymnasiumThe 1937 basketball team won the first Far Western Conference championship for Chico, giving Coach Art Acker the championship he had sought for fourteen years. The gymnasium is named for Mr. Acker, who, until his death in 1991 at the age of 99, attended every game.

Albert E. Warrens Reception CenterThe former president's home is named in honor of Albert Warrens and was originally designed by distinguished architect Julia Morgan.

Aymer J. HamiltonThis building is dedicated to Aymer J. Hamilton, president of Chico State College from 1931 to 1950. The building was then a teacher training school and today houses classrooms.

Ayres HallThis building is dedicated to John C. Ayres, painter and art historian, professor of art, and department chair from 1946 to 1967.

Bell Memorial UnionThe student union was dedicated in 1969 and is named after Hugh M. Bell, professor of psychology and dean from 1928 to 1967, who, through his leadership and counsel, made special contributions to student life and well being.

Bidwell BowlThe amphitheatre adjacent to Children's Playground, was built as a WPA project in 1938. It is part of the legacy of John and Annie Bidwell, who left Bidwell Park and Children's Playground to the City of Chico.

Bidwell MansionCompleted in 1868 and now an historic monument and part of the California Parks System, Bidwell Mansion was once owned by the University and used as a women's residence hall for many years, when it was named Bidwell Hall.

George Petersen Rose GardenThe George Petersen Rose Garden was named for the original owner of Chico's Christian and Johnson floral company. Petersen, whose father was the gardener for John and Annie Bidwell, donated all of the garden's rose bushes.

Gus Manolis BridgeThis bridge between Kendall and Holt Halls was dedicated in 1961 to Gus Manolis, football "Coach of the Century," who had a 23-12-1 win-loss record from 1954 to 1957, and died while participating in a search for a lost boy.

Harlen Adams TheatreThis theatre complex in the Performing Arts Center is named for Harlen Adams, a distinguished teacher, scholar, University administrator, community leader, and friend of the performing arts.

Holt HallThis building is dedicated to the memory of a truly distinguished teacher and scholar,Vesta Holt (1892-1970), professor of biology, department coordinator, and division chair.

Hutch's Plaza"Old Hutch's Plaza" is named in honor of W.H. Hutchinson, a distinguished professor of history and "yarn spinner" who often held court on the bench in this location.

Kendall HallIn recognition of his outstanding leadership and service to the University and northeastern California, this building is dedicated to Glenn Kendall, campus president from 1950 to 1966.

Langdon Engineering CenterThis building is dedicated to Herbert F. Langdon, who established the engineering program at Chico State. He was a distinguished professor of engineering and division chair from 1946 to 1965.

Larry Wismer TheatreThis theatre in the Performing Arts Center is dedicated to Lawrence H. Wismer, outstanding teacher-director, founder of The Court Theatre, and professor of drama from 1963 to 1980.

Laxson AuditoriumThis building is dedicated to C. Robert Laxson, professor of music from 1946 to 1968.

Meriam LibraryMeriam Library honors both a father and son: Morrison E. Meriam, professor of psychology from 1902 to 1934, and Theodore "Ted" Meriam, community leader, alumnus, and friend of the University, a member of the California State University Board of Trustees from 1961 to 1971, and its chair from 1968 to 1969.

O'Connell Technology CenterThis building is dedicated to John Francis O'Connell, student body president in 1936, member of the Board of Trustees of the California State University from 1977 to 1984, and board chair from 1981 to 1984.

Paul L. Byrne University Farm, Agricultural Teaching and Research CenterThe 1,040-acre University Farm is dedicated to former State Senator Paul L. Byrne.

Roth PlanetariumThe Roth Planetarium was made possible by a gift from James F. and Betty Jane Roth in 1976.

Ruth Rowland-Taylor Recital HallThis recital hall is named in honor of Ruth Rowland-Taylor, professor of music and head of the music department from 1929 to 1955.

Sapp HallThe Alumni House was dedicated on Homecoming Day 1992, to Ella Caroline Sapp, alumna, Chico Normal School class of 1916.

Shurmer GymnasiumThis gymnasium is named for Jane Wells Shurmer, teacher, scholar, and coach from 1938 to 1968, for her unsurpassed contributions to physical education and women's athletics.

Selvester's Café-By-The-CreekDedicated to "a diamond in the rough," the café is named after John Selvester, the Associated Students director of food services and assistant general manager from 1951 to 1972.

Taylor Hall—This building is dedicated to Alva P. Taylor, a distinguished scholar, professor of English, and department chair from 1929 to 1953.

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