California State University, Chico, or commonly, Chico State, is a public university in Chico, California. Founded in 1887 by John Bidwell, it is the second oldest campus in the California State University system. As of the fall 2020 semester, the university had a total enrollment of 16,630 students. The university offers 126 bachelor's degree programs, 35 master's degree programs, and four types of teaching credentials. Chico is a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI).
On March 12, 1887, a legislative act was enacted to create the Northern Branch of the California State Normal School. Less than a month later, Chico was chosen as the location. On June 24, 1887, General John Bidwell donated 8 acres (3.2 ha) 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 Kennedy Bidwell donated an additional 2 acres (0.81 ha) of land to be used for work with elementary agriculture. The next year Mrs. Bidwell donated an orange orchard lot 55 × 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 cornerstone for the new administration building was laid on top of Normal Building's original cornerstone. In 1929 the student bookstore was established.
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 500 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 female 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 in front of Kendall Hall was donated by the class of 1956. In the following year, 1957, a new cafeteria was built and 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 in 1951.
The Arts & Humanities Building is one of the newest buildings on campus. It opened in July 2016.
In 1970, the university closed First Street on campus to through traffic.
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 library was renamed in 1981 for 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.
In 1987, Chico State was ranked as the top party school in the nation by Playboy.
CSU Chico opened its first sub-campus in Redding, affiliated with Shasta College, in 2007.
In 2005, student Matt Carrington was hazed to death at the Chi Tau (local) 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.
In 2010, the President of the Associated Student body, Joseph Igbineweka, was stabbed in a racially motivated attack.
In 2011, CSU, Chico received a Civic Learning Initiative Grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to extend its efforts to establish civic engagement as a key component of students' academic success.