University makes town vibrant

PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY <br>Laxson Auditorium helps give Chico State an Ivy League feel.

Laxson Auditorium helps give Chico State an Ivy League feel.

Photo by Tom Angel

California State University, Chico’s influence on the Chico community is undeniable. Students make up a large portion of Chico’s population and the university is one of the area’s largest employers. Much of what makes Chico famous, and possibly infamous, starts at the university.

Chico State excels in a variety of programs, from engineering and business to nursing and agriculture. The student-run weekly newspaper, The Orion, consistently takes home the top awards at national competitions. Chico State students enjoy an affordable education in a laid-back college town environment. Current students and alumni who never left contribute to the community and to the special atmosphere that makes Chico so, well … Chico.

Whether you’ve lived here for years or you are new to the area, take time to walk around the centrally located campus. You will be surprised by the gorgeous orange-and-red brick buildings, the huge shade trees, the lazy creek winding below narrow bridges, the blooming rose garden and the chill vibe of students lounging on the ubiquitous verdant lawns. The heart of campus is now a bike-free zone, making a leisurely walk through the campus even more safe and inviting. Don’t miss the new Bell Memorial Union, (“the BMU” to students), on your way. Buy a Chico State sweatshirt or other school pride paraphernalia at the two-story Associated Students Bookstore, sip on a beverage from the coffee stand or munch on a snack from the convenience store or a variety of restaurant counters in the Marketplace Café. Gaze at the hundreds of world flags hanging from the BMU ceiling, guessing which country each represents.

Look for construction to begin on the 120,000-square-foot Wildcat Activity Center adjacent the campus. Set to open by the fall semester of 2008, the student body that recently voted to increase fees to build this facility will most likely have graduated by the time it opens.

Construction of the new building may exacerbate an already-sticky parking problem in the downtown area. Forbidding parking on campus is part of what makes it so tranquil. But it also means students are fighting with each other and the community at large for parking spots near the university. Meter prices just doubled to 50 cents an hour, leaving everyone scrounging for extra change.

Visitors can avoid the confusion by purchasing parking permits from machines in the parking structure at West Fifth between Ivy and Cherry, the lot on West Second along Hazel, or by going to the Public Safety Office in Yuba Hall, next to the Performing Arts Center at Second and Normal streets.

If you want to know more about the long history of the university, guided tours are available Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. from the Admissions Office in Colusa Hall. Saturday tours can be arranged by appointment and start from the University Police center on Normal Avenue. For more information, call 898-6322 or visit the Student Admissions Office, room 101, in Colusa Hall.

Historic Quarter
The four brick buildings in the central part of campus date from the early part of the 20th century, when Chico State was still a teachers’ school. The Ivy League-looking Trinity Hall, Kendall Hall (built after the original Normal School burned down in 1927), Laxson Auditorium and Ayres Hall comprise this historic quarter.

Bell Memorial Union
The BMU—paid for, owned and operated by the Associated Students—is home to the campus bookstore, a restaurant (the Marketplace Café), an auditorium, study areas, a game room, the Information Center and the Associated Students offices. BMU hours: Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-midnight; Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight; Sun. noon-midnight. 898-4636.

Meriam Library
Named after the late Ted Meriam, a former Chico mayor and state university trustee, it is the largest library north of Sacramento and is also an important regional information resource. Fall semester hours: Mon.-Thurs. 7:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m.; Fri. 7:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Sat. noon-4:45 p.m.; Sun. noon-11:45 p.m. 898-5833.

Performing Arts Center
This large building just east of the BMU is the hub of the university’s extensive performing-arts program. It houses two excellent theaters and a recital hall as well as such support facilities as an extensive scene shop, makeup rooms and practice rooms.

Laxson Auditorium
This majestic theater is the most easterly of the three redbrick buildings that form the heart of the campus. Like the others (Kendall Hall, which houses the university administration, and Trinity Hall, which includes the campus bell tower), it was built in the 1930s in a Romanesque style reminiscent of Mediterranean cultures. Laxson is the site of the vast majority of music, theater and dance events on campus, including the spring musical and performances of the North State Symphony Orchestra. 898-5791 for tickets.

Museum of Anthropology
Located in Chico State’s Langdon Hall, the museum features photos and artifacts in historical displays. Phone: 898-5397.

Art Galleries

Janet Turner Print Gallery
Located in the mezzanine of Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium, this gallery features rotating exhibits taken from the vast and excellent collection of prints given to the university by the late Dr. Janet Turner, a longtime Chico State art professor and noted serigraphist. Open weekdays 11 a.m.–4 p.m., as well as during auditorium events and by appointment. Call 898-4476.

Third Floor Gallery
Located on the third floor of the Bell Memorial Union, this small gallery offers a variety of theme-based art shows. Open during BMU hours.

University Art Gallery
Located in Taylor Hall, this is an all-purpose facility exhibiting everything from work by nationally prominent artists and university faculty to master’s thesis projects. Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. noon–4 p.m. 898-5864.

Humanities Gallery
This pleasant space is located smack-dab in the center of Trinity Hall and features rotating—and high-quality—exhibits of local and visiting artists under the sponsorship of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

ARCHITECTURAL ACE <br>Kendall Hall is the university’s administration building.

Photo by Tom Angel

More Education

Butte College
The local community college is located in the foothills midway between Chico and Oroville and also has centers in Chico, Willows and Orland. With exceptional academic programs, impressive computer labs, even its own cable television station, Butte College has earned a reputation for education and job training. More than 14,000 students attend the school. The 54,000-square-foot Butte College Chico Center opened last year making it possible for students to take classes without having to make the long drive to the main campus. The center has 18 classrooms, four computer labs and a bookstore.

The accredited two-year college offers associate degrees along with fully transferable general-education courses, as well as vocational programs with certificates. For more information about Butte College, call 895-2511.

Cal Northern School of Law
The need for a law school with evening classes in the Northstate was filled with Cal Northern, at 1395 Ridgewood Drive in Chico. The four-year course of study trains prospective attorneys with real-world training, and the school has been accredited by the State Bar of California since 1992. For more information, call 891-6900.

University of Phoenix
Several University of Phoenix programs are offered at the North Valley Learning Center at 500 Orient St. For most programs, classes are once a week and are held at night or on weekends. The accredited university keeps classes small to encourage active participation and lively discussion. Courses are offered one at a time and will build upon each other to provide a context for better understanding. The university accepts graduate and undergraduate students. 800-266-2107.