Update from the President December 20, 2021

December 20, 2021

Dear Campus Community, 

As we finish the fall semester and many of you prepare to head home for the holidays, I am filled with appreciation for the perseverance, flexibility, and spirit of community you have shown during a time that still feels far from normal. Our Seawolf community is resilient and wonderfully resourceful, and I know that together we will continue to create a path forward.

As the days grow short and cold, I am also reflecting on the comforting cycles of nature. We tend to focus on the upcoming Winter Solstice as the moment marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year, yet it is also the moment that the sun begins a new cycle of light. With this in mind, please accept a warm holiday wish from me to all of our campus community and Chancellor Castro’s special holiday message to the entire CSU family.

As we approach the new year, I want to reaffirm my commitment to our campus community – to being an active and engaged listener, a champion of our strengths and successes, an advocate of passionate but mutually respectful discussion, and a leader through consultation and consensus building. In our own ways, we are all stewards of this university and care deeply about its – and our – future. As you know, we face some hard challenges and painful choices, most of which are linked to the budget deficit and enrollment decline. As we move forward, I offer my resolution to welcome more campus voices into our decision-making processes, and to share more readily with you the issues at hand and the choices they present. 

Next semester will bring a resumption of more in-person instruction and campus activities and events. Approximately 66% of courses offered for the Spring 2022 semester will be taught fully in-person and we will kick off the semester with the rich array of events that are part of our annual LoboFest.

With more activity on campus in spring, it is vital that we not let up on our efforts to keep our community safe and limit the spread of COVD-19.  Through our continued commitment to wearing our masks, completing our daily wellness screenings, reporting potential COVID-19 exposures, utilizing the on-campus COVID-19 testing center, and practicing physical distancing, we have maintained low COVID-19 infection rates. Thank you each for doing your part.

This month we announced a Telecommuting Program which, where operationally feasible, will allow for managers to offer some scheduling flexibility in the new year. My hope is that the Telecommuting Program will allow us to provide the high quality instructional, customer service, and student support services SSU is known for while giving employees the ability to achieve greater work life balance.

This month we celebrated our fall graduates at Toast of the Town, and look forward to what our 2021 graduates do next as they launch careers and make their mark in their professions. Grads, please stay in touch through our SSU Alumni Association, and we look forward to seeing you in May for the Commencement ceremonies. 

And I am thrilled that eligible new first-year and transfer students who are joining SSU for the Spring 2022 term can enroll in CSUCCESS, the CSU's program to enhance student achievement and create more equitable opportunities by providing educational technology at no cost to eligible students. Incoming students will be eligible to receive a technology bundle that includes a new iPad Air, Apple Pencil, and Apple Smart Keyboard, and will be provided with this iPad bundle for their entire undergraduate experience. 

When we return to campus in January, I am looking forward to welcoming Monir Ahmed our new Vice President of Administration and Finance. Mr. Ahmed will work closely with the academic and administrative leadership throughout the campus, represent the campus on various system-wide affinity groups, and participate in key strategic leadership committees for the CSU. Moreover, Mr. Ahmed will play a lead role in the President’s Budget Advisory Committee, strategic planning initiatives, and the campus fee advisory committee, all of which enhance and support student learning and graduation initiatives.

In January we will also welcome a familiar leader of the Seawolf community back to campus. Dr. Michael Young will rejoin us as Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, while we conduct a nationwide search for this important leadership position. Dr. Young was previously Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Santa Barbara and is widely respected for his collaborative leadership and expertise on student mental health issues. 

I also want to express appreciation to our current VP of Student Affairs, Dr. Greg ‘Doc’ Sawyer, who will be retiring at the end of this month. Please join me in thanking Dr. Sawyer for his service in support of our students. We all send our warmest wishes to Dr. Sawyer and his wife Rita. 

Lastly, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of bell hooks, whose work has become fundamental to feminism, education, and scholars of intersectional theories. That the woman and her work could easily flow between Twitter and Yale and TIME magazine’s 100 Women of the Year reflects her broad appeal and relevance. She had something important – something urgent – to say to everyone about how institutional patterns of oppression were harming us all. And perhaps even more important, how “love that is transformative, that challenges us in both our private and our civic lives,” can free us, and heal us. "Everywhere I go, people want to feel more connected,” she said. “They want to feel more connected to their neighbors. They want to feel more connected to the world.” Through love, the kind of love that powered the highest ideals of the Civil Rights Movement, we have the power to change our experience - and the world. So rest in peace, bell hooks, and may all of us continue to carry forward your work, and your vision for justice, peace, and love. 

One of the aspects of SSU life I love most is our remarkable diversity. When we return in January, I look forward to hearing from you all about the many different family and cultural traditions that bring meaning and joy to your time with family and friends.

Until then, I wish you all a safe and happy winter break,

With gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki