Answer a higher calling

Deanna Berg is program director of Community Action Volunteers in Education, and Paul Zingg is president of Chico State University.

Deanna Berg is program director of Community Action Volunteers in Education, and Paul Zingg is president of Chico State University.

Learn more: California State University recently completed a documentary about student service featuring Chico State. View that video, plus a separate one about Chico, at

Service is a fundamental tenet of Chico State’s identity and our plans for the future. We see service as both an obligation to our community and the means to help define our institutional character and that of our alumni.

Recently, Chico State was named one of 10 national finalists for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Award, sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which ranked us among the top 1 percent of all American colleges and universities for the quality and extent of our community service. We are recognized nationally as a place of public purpose and service with deep and abiding ties to Chico and the North State.

Students have embraced the value of service through thousands of volunteer hours each year in many different endeavors. For instance, students from the Adopt-a-Grandparent program at Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) spend three to six hours per week at local nursing homes, visiting with and learning from the elderly, many of whom have no remaining family members. The students provide care to the residents, who share the wisdom gleaned from experience with a new generation. Meaningful friendships are built that cross barriers of time and place.

Now in its 40th year, CAVE annually places 2,500 students in the community who contribute 80,000 hours of service. CAVE, however, is by no means the last word in service on campus.

The Community Legal Information Center (CLIC) provided free legal information to more than 12,000 clients last year. The Up ’til Dawn Campaign for children’s cancer research has raised more than $300,000 in three years, second in the nation among all college fund-raising efforts. Minds in Motion brought 4,000 North State schoolchildren to campus last spring to give them a hands-on introduction to engineering. And last month, 725 volunteer students spent a Saturday picking up trash and beautifying Chico during the ninth annual Scour and Devour event.

What all of this adds up to is a recognition by the university that we are a vital steward and partner in promoting the quality of life for our local and regional communities. We seek to raise expectations of the services that we can provide and we accept the challenge of delivering on those expectations.

We aim to do more, not just because more is needed, but because more is expected of us.