Top 10 SSU News Stories of 2016

top 10 news stories of 2016 photo collageWith a new president arriving in July, 2016 was a year of changes for Sonoma State. Student-athletes set a record for highest GPA for the second consecutive year; the University and its faculty received many awards and grants; some construction projects were started, and some were redirected. Overall, 2016 set the stage for a momentous, student-focused year to come in 2017.

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10. Seawolves Set GPA Record for Second Consecutive Year

A school record 93 Sonoma State University student-athletes earned All-Academic honors from their respective conferences for the 2015-16 academic year. And for the second consecutive year, Sonoma State student-athletes set a new department GPA record, topping the previous year's record of 3.037 with a combined GPA of 3.097 in 2015-16. Ten of the 14 athletic programs at Sonoma State earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher in 2015-16.

don romesburg

9. SSU Professor Don Romesburg Hails New LGBT California Public Schools Framework as 'Most Inclusive in Country'

In July, the California State Board of Education approved the new K-12 History-Social Science Framework, which includes history of LGBT people and the LGBT Civil Right Movement. Since 2013, Sonoma State University Women's and Gender Studies Professor Don Romesburg helped lead the committee that would decide what would be included in public school curricula.

commencement cap, "to infinity and beyond"

8. SSU Expands Commencement Ceremonies to 2 Days, Changes Location to Green Music Center

For the first time in a generation, Sonoma State University's Commencement ceremonies will not take place outdoors on Commencement Lawn. Instead of two large ceremonies in one day, there will be six ceremonies spread out over two days at the Green Music Center.

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7. SSU Receives International Award for Sustainability

Sonoma State University received a Bronze Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)'s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program. The effort was started two years ago by a group of concerned students, and followed to completion to receive this award. The award was announced in October before a talk by climate change journalist Bill McKibben at the annual Sustainability Days conference on campus.

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6. SSU Will Not Pursue Construction of Outdoor Pavilion at Green Music Center

Sonoma State decided not to pursue the construction of a proposed 10,000-seat outdoor pavilion at the Green Music Center and Weill Hall facilities, and instead will focus efforts on enhancing graduation rates, the student experience and academic programs. The pavilion was planned for the east side of the Green Music Center and would have cost roughly $10 million to complete, only $6 million of which had been pledged to the project through private donations.

amache artist

5. Creativity, Unbreakable Spirit of Japanese American Internees Highlighted in SSU Library Art Gallery Exhibition

Sonoma State University received a grant in January from the National Endowment for the Humanities to collect and digitize artifacts and personal histories from former detainees of Japanese Internment Camps. In September, a reception saw more than 100 people attend the Library Art Gallery Exhibition, "Creativity Unconfined: Life in a World War II Japanese American Internment Camp." At the reception, Sonoma State President Judy K. Sakaki and others spoke about their families' experiences with internment camps.

wine business institute groundbreaking

4. Mike Thompson, Gavin Newsom Speak at Groundbreaking for SSU Wine Spectator Learning Center

Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Wine Spectator Publisher Marvin Shanken and others spoke at the groundbreaking for the $9.2 million Wine Spectator Learning Center on June 1, which will house Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute in 2017. Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute was the first academic program in the United States offering degrees focused on wine business and Sonoma State is currently the only university in the nation offering a Wine Business MBA.

imagery art donation

3. Imagery Winery Art Collection Finds New Home at Sonoma State University

The Imagery Estate Winery Permanent Collection, a 440-piece, $2 million collection of contemporary art with a focus on wine, was donated this year from the Benziger family to Sonoma State University. The collection's debut in its new home came in June with an exhibition titled "Palate to Palette: The Imagery Collection at SSU." The paintings, photographs and sculptures now reside in the University's Art Department collections facility.

lynn cominsky with bill dodd

2. Lynn Cominsky Honored for Work on Gravitational Waves Discovery

Sonoma State University professor Lynn Cominsky is part of the team that made the observation of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime originally predicted in Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity. Cominsky was tasked with creating educational materials for community college instructors about the discovery. She received several awards and honors for her work on the project, including a commendation by the State Assembly.

judy sakaki at convocation

1. Judy K. Sakaki Begins Tenure as President of Sonoma State University

When she began her tenure as Sonoma State's seventh president on July 1, Judy K. Sakaki became the first Japanese-American woman in the nation to become president of a four-year college or university. Sakaki has devoted her entire career to issues of inclusion, educational opportunities and achievement for all students. Prior to coming to Sonoma State, Sakaki served as Vice President, Student Affairs in the University of California Office of the President.

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