Founded in 1887, Chico State has rich history and traditions stretching back more than a century. We are the second-oldest university in the 23-campus California State University system, and the sixth-oldest public higher education institution in California.
When John Bidwell donated eight acres of his cherry orchard to help establish the Northern Branch State Normal School, he probably didn't imagine it would grow into the 119-acre, multiple-college campus it is today, with 17,500 students and 300 degree programs.
Chico State shares its rich history with the Mechoopda people(opens in new window), who are indigenous to this area and who have contributed to Chico and the University for generations. The University stands on their sacred traditional lands, providing an opportunity for today's students to pursue education in this beautiful place. Chico State continues to rely on the expertise of the Mechoopda people to preserve their heritage and move the campus forward in partnership.
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.
Construction began on Chico State Normal School, and the campus opened in 1889 with 90 students and five faculty members. The first class of teachers graduated in June 1891.
Chico State Normal School became Chico State Teachers College in 1921. The college soon added a junior college curriculum and awarded a certificate after two years. In 1924 it began granting baccalaureate degrees. Two years after a fire destroyed the Normal Building in 1927, a new administration building was constructed on the site, later to be renamed Kendall Hall.
The California legislature converted its teachers colleges to state colleges in 1935, and Chico State Teachers College became Chico State College. During this period chimes were installed in the Trinity tower, the first biological laboratory was established at Eagle Lake, and the University Farm was dedicated to the memory of Paul L. Byrne. Chico State also granted its first bachelor of science and master’s degrees.
In 1972, the college became California State University, Chico. Academic departments and programs, previously grouped by schools, were reorganized into colleges, and, in 1982, the campus was dedicated as an arboretum.
The campus proper is 119 acres. The University also manages 800 acres of farm land, 240 acres of range land, and 2,330 acres of ecological reserves.
CSU, Chico has come a long way since its founding in 1887. The frontiers of knowledge and the tools of teaching have expanded beyond the imagination of the Normal school’s first students. Yet, as the 125th anniversary events remind us, CSU, Chico is a place of enduring traditions as well as growth and transformation.
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 but rekindled in 2000 with the help of the Associated Students and the Alumni Association. Ever since, each year alums from past decades are invited to campus during Founders Week to witness the opening of their classes’ time capsule and to reminisce about their days on campus.