CI Welcomes New Provost Gayle Hutchinson
By Lori Putnam
In one of her first public appearances at CI, new Provost Gayle E. Hutchinson decided to model what it means to take a risk. Turning up her collar and replacing her glasses with a dark pair of shades, Hutchinson performed an impromptu rap of CI’s favorite acronyms to the delight of her faculty peers gathered in the Grand Salon following Fall Convocation.
“Anytime you can push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you learn,” said Hutchinson. “It’s good modeling for others of the importance of being a learner for life and having a willingness to explore new opportunities for the purpose of serving our students.”
Prior to joining CI, Hutchinson spent 23 years with CSU Chico assuming greater responsibilities as Chair of the Department of Kinesiology and then Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. She represented CSU Chico as a CSU Statewide Senator from 2003 to 2005. She is also an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow, one of 39 Fellows nationwide mentored through the ACE program in 2005-2006. That experience in particular, according to Hutchinson, helped inform her leadership style further.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a servant leader, one who works by leading by example to champion students. And in order to do that effectively, I need to understand student, faculty, and staff perspectives,” said Hutchison. “The best way to do that is being as inclusive as possible. Shared governance is very important to me, which means providing a community that is open and where information is communicated as often as possible.”
When the CI opportunity presented itself, Hutchinson felt a kinship with the University particularly as it related to its innovation, creativity, and a commitment to students. She recalls CI faculty and staff making a strong impression as individuals who were willing to roll up their sleeves to advance the University. Now that’s she is on campus, Hutchison says she has not been disappointed. “My impression of teamwork is even stronger. It’s a compliment to the CI community that there is such a true expression of self. The values here are communicated loud and clear.”
As CI President Rush looks ahead to a new decade, he sees Provost Hutchinson as an ideal fit to the University’s leadership team. “I’m delighted Gayle has chosen to join us. I think that is an opinion shared across campus,” said Rush. “She brings to us years of experience as an academic administrator and faculty member with a can-do attitude. I think she has already demonstrated that she works cooperatively with everybody, and is a team player that others can rely upon as a full partner.”
Hutchinson credits her early experience in sports as giving her a strong foundation in teamwork and mentorship. It was in fact Hutchinson’s coaches who first guided her on her academic career path. She would eventually compete as a Division 1 field hockey and lacrosse player. In her senior year in college she was encouraged by her department chair to continue on to graduate school and become a professor. “I call it the constellation of mentors,” said Hutchinson.
Looking ahead to the next CI decade, Hutchinson echoes President Rush’s characterization that the University is entering its adolescence and may experience some growing pains. Not surprisingly, Hutchinson sees growth as an opportunity. “It’s an exciting challenge,” she said.