Update from the President Aug. 21, 2019

Aug. 21, 2019

Greetings, Seawolves, and welcome back for the start of the 2019-20 academic year at Sonoma State.

It is so good to have us all together again, and to welcome our new students, faculty and staff to campus. The semester is just a few days old, and we already have a host of memories to share and things to celebrate, including:

Welcome Weekend: What a wonderful time of high-fives, photos and new friendships. We welcomed nearly 2,000 new students to campus on Saturday and helped them get settled in campus housing. Thank you to everyone who helped make our new process of having students check in at the Green Music Center go so smoothly. Also, thank you to everyone who took part in forming our SSU sign on the lawn by the Lakes before dinner. The photo turned out beautifully! It also was a joy to see so many smiling faces during Big Nite on Sunday.

Convocation: Thank you, also, to those who joined us for our Convocation ceremonies at Person Theatre on Monday where Dr. Laura Watt, Chair of the Faculty, Provost Lisa Vollendorf, and I provided an overview of our university’s achievements and goals for the new year. As I said on Monday, we indeed are a university on the rise. We also are growing. We welcomed 16 new tenure-track faculty members on campus. We also recognized Dr. Michelle Gorman, recipient of our Excellence in Scholarship Award, and Dr. Jeffrey Baldwin, recipient of our Excellence in Teaching Award. Their innovative achievements in research and work inside and outside of the classroom are shining examples of the work all of you do to put students first and to make academic excellence a pillar of our institution. We also appreciated hearing from SSU Associated Students President Daniel Yoeono, as well as Staff Council representative Kshatriya Millick, and Dr. Erma Jean Sims, President of the California Faculty Association SSU chapter. During Convocation, I also introduced Dr. Kara Rabbitt, our American Council on Education Fellow for this academic year. She is Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at William Patterson University in New Jersey, and her scholarship focuses on French and African literature and linguistics. Dr. Rabbitt had her choice of a number of campuses on which to serve as an ACE Fellow, and we are pleased that she decided to pick Sonoma State. Welcome, Dr. Rabbitt!

We also have some exciting new opportunities and events coming up to add to your schedules.

View the budget with OpenBook: As we begin a new fiscal year, the University Budget and Planning Office is putting the finishing touches on the 2019-20 Budget Plan. This year, our budget office will be using a new reporting dashboard called OpenBook. This dashboard allows for a more interactive and user-friendly experience with multiple view options and drilling capabilities. The new dashboard will be available on Monday, Aug. 26. Just visit the University Budget and Planning Office website to find a link to OpenBook as well as some helpful guides on navigating this new dashboard. We hope that OpenBook will be helpful to you in understanding the University budget. For questions, please contact the University Budget and Planning Office at budget@sonoma.edu.

Thompson Town Hall: Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who represents our campus in Congress, will be hosting an open forum on Climate Change on Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Student Center ballrooms. SSU’s Center for Community Engagement and Center for Environmental Inquiry will be cohosting. Representative Thompson will be joined by experts and advocates in discussing local and federal efforts to combat climate change. All students and community members are invited to attend. Don’t miss this opportunity to take part in one of the most important discussions of our time.

President’s Sustainability Advisory Council: Last spring, I signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment. We now are launching the President's Sustainability Advisory Council (PSAC) to help SSU advance sustainability efforts focused on carbon neutrality, community resilience, and academic excellence. There will be many opportunities for faculty, staff and students to participate in PSAC and its working groups.

Green Music Center: Finally, the fall semester may be starting, but it’s still summer at the Green Music Center. Single tickets are still available for all Green Music Center performances. Summer at the Green 2019 continues this month with Raiders of the Lost Ark – In Concert featuring the original film on the silver screen with John Williams’ epic score performed live by the Santa Rosa Symphony. Then in September, acclaimed singer/songwriter Andy Grammer – presented with Associated Students Productions – will perform live! Tickets for shows start at $25 for the general public. SSU students receive $10 tickets with promo code “SSUSTUDENT.” Faculty and staff receive 25 percent off using promo code “SSUFACSTAFF.” Free Movies at the Green continue on Saturday, Sept. 21 with a double feature of Avengers: Infinity War at 4 p.m. followed by Avengers: Endgame at 7 p.m. Don’t miss out.

Caring Community: Although the beginning of a semester can be a time of great excitement, it also can be a time of stressful transition for many of us – students, staff, and faculty alike. Given that, I would like to make note of the resources that our campus community has available now and throughout the year. Support is available for students through Counseling & Psychological Services at (707) 664-2153. For faculty and staff, counseling is available through the Employee Assistance Program. I am pleased to say that among the improvements we have made to the student experience here at Sonoma State is increasing our emphasis on student wellness. We have listened to faculty, staff and especially to students, and, as result, we have improved our ratio of licensed counselors-to-students. We are a caring community, one that looks out for one another and supports each other. If you are struggling, please know that there are people available who care and want to help.

This is indeed a time of new opportunities for Noma Nation – a time of meeting new people, taking advantage of new experiences and achieving new milestones.

I can’t wait to see what the new academic year holds for all of us – and to see what we all can do together.  

With gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki