December 17, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
As we complete this last week of finals, with the end of fall term just a couple of days away, I want to share how proud I am of you for keeping yourselves and those around you safe throughout such a uniquely challenging semester. All of you – students, faculty, and staff – have navigated ever-changing restrictions around remote and in-person work and instruction, and adapted quickly as our broader North Bay community fell under its most recent Stay Home order just this past weekend.
Your awareness and your consideration are what make our Seawolf community such a caring one. You have kept Sonoma State strong even though we cannot physically be together, and as you also managed your coursework and your work responsibilities remotely. As we enter the holidays, the SSU Cabinet and I wish to express our gratitude to you for your commitment to the Seawolf spirit with this special holiday message.
Anticipated Return to In-Person Instruction at Sonoma State
Although campus instruction and operations during the spring semester will remain largely remote and continue in a similar format to this fall term, we anticipate returning to primarily in-person instruction at Sonoma State and across the CSU system for fall 2021.
We will continue to update you about the anticipated return to campus in fall 2021, as more detailed information becomes available. And we will continue to be guided by local and state public health and safety guidelines, and coordinate with both CSU leadership and Sonoma County as we move towards returning to in-person instruction. I’d like to say a big thank you to our 2020-2021 Continuity Planning Group, which has worked tirelessly on instructional and operational plans for our campus since last spring, and with the health and safety of our campus community as its top priority.
Welcome to our new Chief of Police
I’m delighted to welcome Nader Oweis, our new Chief of Police, to Sonoma State! Chief Oweis joined our Seawolf community earlier this month from UC Santa Cruz, where he also served as Chief of Police, and where he was selected to coordinate all 10 UC campus police chiefs as UC Coordinator of Police Services. In addition to his 26 years of campus law enforcement experience, Chief Oweis holds a commitment to community-oriented policing and problem-solving principles. His professional certifications include a bachelor's degree from UC Davis and a master's degree from Drexel University. He grew up in the North Bay and has family members who live locally. Welcome, Chief Oweis!
A New Beginning for Stevenson Hall
Last month, I was honored to join with other campus leaders for a virtual groundbreaking celebration of the Stevenson Hall Renovation. Stevenson was the first building constructed at Sonoma State, and this renovation is one long overdue.
Over the next two years, Stevenson will be transformed into a state-of-the-art learning and work environment that meets LEED Gold sustainability standards. When it reopens in Fall 2022, it will house our Schools of Education, Social Sciences, and Business and Economics.
To learn more, I encourage you to visit the renovation project website.
Congratulations to our Seawolf Staff
I’m thrilled to congratulate one of our staff members for a well-deserved honor she received this month!
SSU Marketing Manager Casey Kelly was named winner of the 2020 NACAS West Regional Rising Star Scholarship in recognition of her excellent services and demonstrated ability and desire to excel in the field of auxiliary services management. NACAS, which is the National Association of Auxiliary Services, grants one recipient of this award per region, and we at Sonoma State are honored that one of our staff members earned this recognition. Congratulations, Ms. Kelly!
As we enter winter break later this week, I want to acknowledge the loss that many of us are feeling this holiday season. From the loss of in-person holiday moments with our loved ones, to the even more deeply painful losses many of us have experienced throughout this difficult year, I know well that these are winter holidays unlike any other in our lifetime.
At the same time, we are hearing more and more about a possible light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the pandemic, including with the administration of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses this week in the United States.
I realize that it can be challenging to hold these two things together, side by side: loss and light. Still, while I hope that you will take the time to rest and care for yourselves given the losses we have experienced, I also hope that you will take the time to safely celebrate whatever moments of light – whatever moments of joy – that you can.
As Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a 19th century poet, abolitionist, and social justice activist, wrote in her poem “Songs for the People:”
“Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.”
In the last few days of 2020, I hope you will continue to wear masks, wash hands, and stay physically distanced as we keep moving towards that light at the end of the pandemic tunnel; and sing or play those songs of celebration – those songs “pure and strong” – that bring you comfort and joy as this year comes to a close.
I look forward to connecting with you again in 2021. And I send my very best wishes to you and your loved ones for a safe and peaceful New Year.
Judy K. Sakaki