A new era has officially begun as Chico State's 13th president, Steve Perez, began his tenure on July 1. The search for Chico State's new leader, which started in January of this year, was conducted by a California State University Trustee Committee and included several members of the CSU and Chico State campus communities. Of the 16 members selected to support the effort, two were current Chico State students: former Associated Students President Krystal Alvarez and former Commissioner of Community Affairs Mujtaba Azam.

Alvarez, who served as the AS President during the 2022–23 academic year, reflected on her experience as part of the presidential search.

"The deputy chief of staff from the Chancellor's Office reached out to me asking me to appoint two students to sit on the Chico State Presidential Search Committee," she shared. After some discussion with the AS Government Affairs team, she elected to represent the campus on the search committee and selected Azam to fill the second seat.

The search committee worked to identify, review and interview qualified candidates to recommend to the California State University Board of Trustees. Alvarez shared that the process took a bit over three months, starting in early February and concluding on May 11, when the committee interviewed the semi-finalists.

"It was very intimidating at first because there was a whole majority of administration, staff, faculty, and even community members, and from that whole group, there was only one other person who was just like me – a student," she confessed. "Nonetheless, I did not let that scare me when giving feedback throughout the process. I was very excited when I created connections with a few trustees and other members of the Chico community; they were very welcoming."

As with all presidential searches within the CSU system, the search for Chico State's 13th president was conducted as a closed search, which meant that the names of candidates were kept confidential and candidates did not visit campus for interviews. The Trustee Search Committee and the Advisory Committee were held to strict confidentiality throughout the search process.

Search Committee for Chico State's 13th President

"This type of process is very confidential and important, so it can be a little stressful to feel satisfied when you feel like you did not represent the student body enough," she shared. "I also learned never to be afraid to speak your mind even if it is the complete opposite of what everyone else agrees or thinks."

After interviews concluded, the search committee delivered their recommendations to the CSU Board of Trustees, who announced Perez as the next president of Chico State on May 24.

Alvarez and President Steve Perez

"There [were] many good candidates, which [made this a] very tough decision," Alvarez emphasized. "Dr. Steve Perez is very passionate about the California State University and is very knowledgeable about this system; Chico State is very fortunate to [have] a president like him."

Alvarez graduated from Chico State in May 2023 and passed her presidential gavel to former Director of Social Justice and Equity Autumn Alaniz-Wiggins, who will be the first AS President to work with President Perez.

For more on President Perez's appointment, please read this article from Chico State Today.