Former college president writes about amazing trip


In 1993, the journalist of this newspaper, Larry Mitchell, in his profile of one of the candidates to succeed Robin Wilson for the presidency of the State of Chico, wrote: a president of university. It’s because Esteban didn’t have a promotion. He never went to high school.

“Who could have imagined? Writes Professor Emeritus of Sociology Walt Schafer in his preface to Esteban’s recently published autobiography. They became close friends during Esteban’s ten-year presidency.

Later, Esteban and his wife Gloria moved from Chico to Santa Barbara and eventually to Academy Village in Tucson, where he completed his memoir.

“An Incredible Journey: From A Barcelona Eighth Grade Dropout To An American University Chairman” ($ 14.50 in paperback, self-published; also for Amazon Kindle) is a chronological narrative primarily focused on the academic development of Esteban, guided in particular by his younger brother, Julio, who tutored him for the high school equivalency exams.

He grew up in academic achievement, living in France, Canada and the United States, becoming a full professor and then an administrator.

The last half of the book is devoted to Esteban’s presidency at Chico State and his efforts to move away from the image of the party school, instituting a lecture series featuring seven Nobel Laureates and by addressing the community to re-establish relations with the city. At first Esteban as the new president was Chico’s toast, but “then I made a very stupid mistake” complaining that I was the lowest paid president of the California State University system. .

It sparked a storm of criticism, especially in this newspaper. History professor Joe Conlin has become his pet peeve, and Esteban’s account reveals his own thinking in response to what one reporter called Conlin’s “spiritual excesses”.

Yet over the years even the partisan media have grown in respect of Esteban’s efforts. In “lessons learned” he writes that “even if you are convinced that yours is the right action to take, you are never sure that those you are supposed to lead will follow you”. Thus, he writes, “take the time to listen, to learn, to consult and to make alliances”.

Wise words from a child who is not interested in school. Who could have imagined?

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. Send revision requests to [email protected] Chronicles archived on


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