Resolution in Honor of Professor Robert Coleman-Senghor (1940-2011)

Whereas, Professor Robert Coleman-Senghor died suddenly on April 9, 2011, while a current member of our Senate; and

Whereas, given Professor Robert Coleman-Senghor’s preference for political engagement and explicit argumentation over the potential ambiguities implicit in any public moment of silence, we offer this resolution as the least this body could do to honor a colleague who has passed away even while still actively serving in his capacity as a member of our faculty; and

Whereas, Professor Robert Coleman-Senghor dedicated almost four decades of his life to Sonoma State University as our respected Professor of English and creator of the unique California Cultural Studies Program; and

Whereas, Professor Coleman-Senghor faithfully and energetically served SSU students at every level, with passionate rigor, with a keen sense of the high seriousness and import of intellectual engagement, and with a spirit of democratic service through the art of teaching, by developing and offering a wide variety of courses, including several in African American literature and the arts, writing, and 18th and 19th Century literature in English; and

Whereas, our colleague was a model faculty governor, devoting the benefits of his tremendous energy and time as well as his prodigious wisdom of experience to positions such as the chair of EPC during some of its most contentious debates; member and chair of APC as it drafted and refined its Long Range Academic Plan for the University; Academic Senator and Executive Committee member during years of dedicated work; and invaluable member of the Humanities Council of Department Chairs; and

Whereas, Professor Coleman-Senghor was known as a man of high principle and integrity and widely respected as a dedicated champion of the rights of students and faculty alike, applying to his service at Sonoma State University his core belief carried forth from his distinguished service as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, that “he would never allow men under his command to jump out of an airplane unless there was a detailed plan in place for what they would do when their feet hit the ground”; and

Whereas, Professor Coleman-Senghor extended this selfless service to the larger community by serving as Mayor and Councilmember of the City of Cotati, where he was again celebrated for his renowned integrity and adherence to personal principle while maintaining respect for all points of view, no matter how difficult the conversation, often meeting with community members, faculty, and students at his surrogate office, a table in the Redwood Café in Cotati;

Therefore, be it hereby

Resolved, that the Academic Senate of Sonoma State University henceforth hold in high regard the memory of our colleague, Professor Robert Coleman-Senghor, in recognition of his extraordinary and dedicated service to this university and its community; and furthermore,

Resolved, that we in the Academic Senate, in the spirit of Professor Coleman-Senghor's unwavering efforts to improve universal access to higher education—particularly for students of under-represented minorities—all while maintaining the high caliber of that very same education to make it worthy of pursuit, rededicate ourselves to do our best to increase both access to and the quality of higher education at Sonoma State University; and finally

Resolved, that the Academic Senate extend its deepest condolences to all those who will miss Professor Coleman-Senghor's irreplaceable presence, including his students past and present, his colleagues in the faculty and staff of Sonoma State University, and most especially his wife Gabi Schmitz, his children, Akai and Kenya Senghor, Michael Gora-Senghor and Drew Jacoby-Senghor, family, and close friends.

Approved by acclamation at the Senate on April 14, 2011