Update from the President

Dec. 4, 2019

Dear Campus Community,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. December on campus marks the end of the fall semester and the culmination of much of the hard work that we have undertaken since August – from major initiatives to final exams. As we prepare for winter break, I hope you will stay inspired not only by all that we, collectively and individually, have achieved but also that you look forward to all that lies ahead for students, staff, faculty and Sonoma State. We are on the rise!

Staff and faculty changes at SSU

I’m very pleased to announce that Dr. Jean-Francois Coget has accepted the position of dean of the School of Business and Economics and will start on July 1, 2020. Dr. Coget currently serves as Associate Dean of the College of Business at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. As Provost Lisa Vollendorf has said, “Jean-Francois offers a wealth of experience as a committed educator and leader in the California State University system. He will be a great addition to our academic leadership team and to our campus community." For more about JF and his new position, see the story on SSU News.

We also are pleased to announce that Dr. Heather Brown has accepted the position of AVP for Institutional Effectiveness. She will join us on Jan. 13. Heather currently serves as the AVP for Institutional Research, Planning and Analytics at Cal Poly, Pomona.

Additionally, I want to let you know that Dr. Lynn Stauffer, our esteemed dean of Science and Technology for the past decade, has decided to return to the faculty at the end of this academic year. Dean Stauffer has been a true champion of the school and has been an impactful leader. Please join me in thanking her for her many contributions and service. 

For more information concerning the additions of Dr. Coget and Dr. Brown to the SSU staff and Lynn’s change in position, please see the messages prepared by Provost Lisa Vollendorf.

Welcome also to Jeff Banks, our new AVP for Human Resources. Jeff comes to us from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville where he worked in human resources for 11 years. As Joyce Lopes, VP for Administration and Finance, noted in her recent message, “Jeff brings with him 24 years of experience in human resources, in both higher education and in the military.”

New Milestones in Seawolf Philanthropy

I’m thrilled that Sonoma State’s first philanthropy report is now live and accessible to all members of our Seawolf community. Titled Building Our Future Together, this annual report relays the impact of philanthropic giving at Sonoma State during the 2018/19 fiscal year and also provides information about our university endowment. I’m especially proud that more than 1,600 individual scholarship awards were given to Sonoma State students last year and that more than one-third of our endowment is designated for student scholarships and support. I encourage you to read the report and learn more about how philanthropic giving has helped strengthen our campus community.

Sonoma State and Environmental Stewardship

Whether you are a hiker, a walker or a bird watcher, Sonoma State’s three natural preserves are open to all community members who wish to explore them. If you would like to engage more closely with the educational opportunities these essential resources provide, I hope you will consider enrolling to train as a volunteer naturalist at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Winter training begins on Jan. 9 and registration information is available on the SSU website.

Environmental education is a cornerstone of Sonoma State’s commitment to sustainability and to our university’s stewardship of the natural resources that make up our beautiful region. The poet Mary Oliver once wrote, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” I believe that deep, committed attention to the environment fosters a genuine devotion to saving our planet from the challenges of climate change. Our three natural preserves serve as classrooms and laboratories for Sonoma State’s broader effort to build a resilient North Bay. I encourage you to experience firsthand the critical work undertaken at both the preserves and our Center for Environmental Inquiry.

Seawolf Recognition

Congratulations to Brent Boyer, Director of Disability Services for Students and Testing Services, who recently received the California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability Professional Recognition Award. CAPED is the preeminent association advocating for and with students with disabilities in postsecondary education.

Also, congratulations to AVP for Administration and Finance Neil Markley who was just named West Region Volunteer of the Year by the National Association of College Auxiliary Services, the largest auxiliary and ancillary services support organization in higher education.

Dates Ahead

  • Sonoma State graduates who will be completing their graduation requirements at the end of this fall semester are invited to a reception on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center ballrooms. Please join us to celebrate your accomplishments. 
  • The Fall 2019 Budget and Planning Forum will be held on Thursday, Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Ballroom A of the Student Center.
  • Mark your calendars! Sonoma State’s 2020 Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17. Planning is already underway.

This has been an especially challenging semester for everyone with the impacts of the Kincade Fire, the power shutdowns and our campus closures. I have heard from many of you by email, in meetings and on Walk n’ Talks. I hear your stress and concerns. I appreciate all that each of you are doing to take care of yourselves, each other, our campus and our community. Together, I am confident that we will not only persevere, but we will get better at handling what some are calling our “new normal.”  Thank you for your patience and suggestions.

I give my best wishes to all the students who are wrapping up final papers and projects and studying for finals. And, I thank all of our campus community members - staff, faculty and administrators - for your tireless work this fall semester. I love Sonoma State and wish you the happiest of holidays!

With Appreciation and Gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki

President