Who should fill the presidential seat at Chico State?


The public has high hopes for a well-rounded future president. Many people spoke from the heart while providing the committee with their input on what qualities the future president should possess at an open forum held on Thursday at the BMU. 

Some of the requests posed at the forum were that the leader prioritizes shared governance, transparency, natural land management and serving Latin-x and international students. A large emphasis was placed on the unique community that Chico State serves. Issues such as wildfire, climate change and homelessness are just a few of the social issues that the public is calling on the future president to address.

The meeting allowed alumni, faculty, staff, students and the extended community to comment on the selection of presidential candidates. The Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Lillian Kimbell, facilitated the forum.

“This is not a question and answer session, so the committee won’t be providing feedback, comments or responses,” Kimbell said.

In-person attendees received instruction to line up behind the microphone to speak and their comments were followed by virtual speakers who had signed up to speak over Zoom.

Kathleen Kaiser, Ph.D., was the first to speak. She is the first female to serve as a university trustee and she did presidential selections while in that role. She described the location of the university as unique in its warm rural setting, and Chico State as a family-like environment.

“People come here, but then a lot of them don’t leave,” Kaiser said.

This is a place that transforms students’ lives, said Angela Tretheway, Dean of the College of Communication and Education. Chico State is vital to Northern California, and the president needs to be able to advocate for the region, understand the socio-economic demographics while ensuring that the university thrives, because it produces the professionals that the state needs.

One way to increase the reach of the university is through distance education online. Kathy Fernandes, the Chico State academic technology officer, highlighted the importance of maintaining a cutting-edge learning management system.

“Chico State needs a strategic approach to online and hybrid education, not viewing online as a lesser experience than face-to-face,” Fernandes said. 

Sharlene Lowry Krater, a Chico State graduate, member of the Susanville Indian Rancheria and Associated Students employee, encouraged the future president to prioritize sustainability. Krater also encouraged the future president to work with the Office of Tribal Relations to build relationships with the Mechoopda tribe and work toward supporting diversity.

As the outgoing president of the Auxiliary Organization Association, Krater emphasized the importance of the services such as leadership and employment opportunities they provide to students.

Patrick Newell, Chico State librarian, noted that the community is looking forward to new leadership with enthusiasm and passion. He hopes that the new president will have a clearly delineated vision and strategic plan for the campus and service area.

“Particularly the galleries, libraries, archives and museums, because these are often overlooked in budgeting, but also provide an outstanding way to connect the university with the community and the rest of the state,” Newell said.

There was concern about enrollment being low and the budget being tight. Douglas Guerrero, former chair of the board of governors and named honorary doctorate, proposed that the future president fight for the rights of the faculty and staff. He suggested this could help retain and recruit people to work at Chico State. 

Chico State photographer, Jason Halley, shared how important it is that a president inspires the student body by taking the opportunity to connect and build relations with students.

“Don’t talk at students, talk with students,” Halley said.

The audience provided applause after Mary Wallmark, assistant vice president for special projects in business and finance and Chico State alumni, spoke about the need to think bigger, innovate and partner with the Chico community. 

Wallmark described the resiliency displayed at Chico State even through flood, fire, COVID-19 and controversy, and called on candidates to match that strength in their leadership.It’s not too late to share thoughts on what constitutes a highly qualified Chico State President candidate. Written feedback can still be submitted via a survey link on the Chico State Presidential Search webpage.