Founders Week celebrates campus roots

The George Peterson Rose Garden, a campus landmark, is more than 50 years old. Photo credit: Dominique Diaz

In the spring of 1887, John Bidwell founded Chico State. In 1909, Charter Day was started. Finally, in 1993, Founders Week took the place of Charter Day and has since continued to make an impact.

Founders Week, April 4-13 this year, is a way to uphold campus traditions and commemorate new ones.

Joe Wills, director of public affairs and publications, has been involved in Founders Week since starting work at Chico State nearly 17 years ago.

“It’s a time in the spring that the university has some of its important
events to honor members of the community, and it also is a way to
acknowledge the long history of the university,” Wills said.

There are several events that take place during Founders Week. This year’s events include the Outstanding Professor Award Reception, University Awards Reception and Annual Staff Awards Luncheon.

These events highlight Chico’s heritage, Wills said. Charter Day was originally celebrated in 1909 to remember John Bidwell and other original faculty members.

The president in 1993 decided to have Founders Week, a newer version of Charter Day.

Two years ago marked the 125th anniversary of the school, the 50th anniversary of the George Petersen Rose Garden and the 75th anniversary of Trinity Hall.

“One year we commemorated this beautiful tree and decided to call it the Founders Tree,” he said. “We put a plaque on a stone.”

This week it is important to celebrate the tradition of Chico State, the second oldest of the California State Universities, Wills said.

“It’s a great time of year when these events take place, and it’s just kind of acknowledging the special people who work here and also go to school here,” he said. “Also, they’re all connected with the people who came before them.”

Wills has been a part of many memorable events on campus.

“We rededicated a little grove of redwoods next to Ayres Hall,” he said. “Students many years ago had given it as a gift to the school.”

The plaque the students had originally given was found and put back up, Wills said.

“It’s those little things around campus that are kind of historical that are kind of fun,” he said.

Susan Anderson, director of alumni and parent relations, manages the Distinguished Alumni Recognition Dinner that occurs during Founders Week.

The dinner has taken place for more than 21 years and has honored almost 150 alumni, Anderson wrote in an email to The Orion. Alumni leaders are chosen every year by each college.

“Many of these honorees are also community leaders and have contributed to the world through volunteer service,” she said.

The dinner is invitation-only and hosts approximately 30 student scholarship recipients, Anderson said.

“I think the awards are important, as they showcase the incredible talent that this institution produces,” she wrote. “We also get to see how our alumni contribute to the world.”

Dominique Diaz can be reached at [email protected] or @dominiqueldiaz on Twitter.