Names you should know
Who’s who at Chico State U
So you’re one of Chico’s brand-new residents. You’ve unpacked your meager bags, settled into your dorm room and even partaken of dorm food. You’re on your way to becoming a Chicoan (at least while you’re in college), but there are a few people and a few things you should know to make it a smooth transition.
As a Chico State University student, you’re represented to the university by the Associated Students, which besides being the student government is also a multimillion-dollar corporation. It’s one of the only student-operated Associated Student organizations in the entire CSU system, and has assets that total several million dollars.
The A.S. owns and operates the campus bookstore and the various food services on campus. It’s funded with student fees, which are billed with tuition. All students are members of the A.S.
The corporation is operated by a board of directors, which is made up of elected student A.S. officers, along with representatives from the university’s staff. The A.S. president, who is elected each spring, heads the board of directors.
Currently, the A.S. president is Amber Johnson. She was elected in April 2001 and made connecting with her student constituents the major theme of her campaign. That said, she’ll probably want to hear from you, so give her a call at 898-5701. She’s pledged to spend a couple of hours a week in the Free Speech Area making herself available to students, so look for her there, too.
Johnson is a senior majoring in nutrition and food science. She hopes to join the Peace Corps after graduation and then work as a lobbyist for nutrition education and research. She’s a 1996 graduate of Orland High School and a native of Oregon.
Getting elected to the A.S. presidency was no small feat: She ran against two opponents and still managed to garner 51 percent of the vote—a large enough percentage to avoid a runoff this fall. It’s relatively unusual for A.S. candidates—especially when there are more than two candidates—to get more than half of the vote. Anything less than 50 percent of the student vote forces a runoff.
In fact, Johnson said that she expected a runoff and was surprised to learn on election night that she’d actually won the spot outright.
One of the first spots on campus you’re likely to visit (besides the dorms, of course) is the campus bookstore. There’s quite a bit of history here, but here’s the abbreviated version: The A.S. bookstore used to be housed in the basement of the old student union. It was rather dark, very cramped, and just too small for the increasingly large student body. Everyone agreed on that. The problem was how to fix it and, more important, how to fund that fix.
The A.S., with the university’s support, sponsored a referendum in March 1996 that eventually raised the student union fees that each student pays by $90 a semester to pay for a brand-spanking-new $26 million student union. Students passed the referendum by a narrow margin, and it was a pretty controversial topic back then, mainly because a lot of the students who would pay for the construction wouldn’t get to use it (since they’d have graduated by the time it was complete).
While the student union is supposed to open this summer (after several delays due to construction problems), its jewel of a bookstore has been open since February 2000. To say that it’s nicer than its predecessor would be quite an understatement: This new-and-improved bookstore has far more than textbooks. It features clothes, a convenience store, a mail service and gift wrapping, leisure-reading books and, well, just about everything a student could need.
Bookstore Director Steve Dubey is particularly proud of the store. He’s in charge of the 25 full-time and nearly 100 part-time student employees who work there.
Dubey came to Chico in July 2000 to take the bookstore job he now has. Before that, he worked at UCLA in the A.S. medical and dental student store.
He’s a graduate of UCLA and said he loves Chico mainly because of the people here. “They’re just very kind here,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a lot different from L.A.”
Sitting at the apex of the university administration is President Manuel Esteban. He was named to the top position in May 1993 and has a very interesting past.
Esteban, 60, was born in Spain and never graduated high school. As a youth he worked at a factory as a glassblower (a talent he still has), moved to France with his family, and then moved to Canada, where he discovered a talent for academic pursuits.
He graduated from the University of Calgary with degrees in French and romance studies. He later earned a doctorate in French from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Esteban has known his wife since they were teenagers in Spain. They married when they were 22 years old, in 1962, and have a grown daughter.
Immediately before Esteban came to Chico, he served as vice president for academic affairs at Humboldt State University. He’s also been a dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at CSU, Bakersfield, and at the University of Michigan at Dearborn.
Esteban, who replaced controversial former Chico State President Robin Wilson, is an easygoing and likeable person and is often seen walking around campus. He’s active with the A.S. leaders and has supported the A.S. in many of its pursuits. Most recently, he endorsed the A.S.’ unsuccessful bid to build a $65 million recreation center on campus.