Update from the President Feb. 19, 2021

Feb. 19, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

In the few weeks since I wrote my last message to you, the evenings have stayed lighter later, much-needed rain has fallen throughout the North Bay, and we have completed nearly one month of the spring semester here at Sonoma State. There are moments when it feels that a new season is just around the corner, and I know I am not the only Seawolf who sees in the new growth and greenery of spring the promise of greater hope and relief in the months to come. 

Still, I want to acknowledge that the fatigue, the frustration, and the loss that many of us have experienced nearly one year into the pandemic remain real. Even though the end of the pandemic lies in sight, the demands of working, studying, and caring for loved ones during a public health emergency remain incredibly difficult. Some Seawolves are really struggling; some are even in despair.

I have long been proud of our caring community at Sonoma State. I know well that it’s what distinguishes our university from so many others. In my own times of difficulty, such as in the aftermath of the 2017 Tubbs Fire, I felt both heartened and strengthened by the caring support I received from my fellow Seawolves.

That’s why I am asking all of you – whether you are a student, a faculty member, or a staff member – to reach out if you see one of your peers or colleagues struggling. Check in with the classmate or team member who may be having a difficult time. Stay connected, even if it’s just through a quick text or FaceTime call.

If you or a  classmate need support, I encourage you to contact the SSU Care Team in Student Affairs. Our Care Team will connect you with support services to help restore the stability and positive reinforcement we all require in times of crisis. I also would encourage faculty and staff members to consider attending our next campus Brave Space COVID session at 11:00 am on February 25, which will be specifically dedicated to faculty and staff concerns.  

We all face struggles, and we all have our moments of despair when fear and doubt feel overwhelming. But I want to make clear that we Seawolves are not alone. We are not alone, no matter how large or small the struggles we face, and no matter how far apart the physical isolation of the pandemic may make us feel. In fact, in thinking about the unprecedented challenges, so many in our Seawolf community have faced since last March, I’ve often been reminded of the words of Maxine Hong Kingston, who once wrote: “We're all under the same sky and walk the same earth; we're alive together during the same moment.”

So, let’s do our part to stay connected, supportive, and proactive in our efforts to reach out to friends, classmates, and colleagues at Sonoma State.

Looking ahead, our campus leadership is hard at work on our university budget, strategic plan alignment, and preparations for a partial return to in-person instruction and operations. Last week, my Cabinet and I made great headway on these efforts during a substantive retreat. I’m also pleased to share an update on our budget via our Interim Associate Vice President for Government and Regional Relations Robert Eyler in this issue of Noma News, as well as news regarding our Recovery with Equity Report.

I wish you each the very best as February reaches its close. On this past Friday, February 12, many Asian communities around the world – including here in the North Bay – celebrated Lunar New Year, a time of reflection, of coming together (virtually, for now), and of well wishes for the year ahead. In light of the horrific recent increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I stand in resolute support of our API community members. I am grateful to California State Assemblymember Evan Low and his many co-authors for issuing House Resolution 23 (HR-23) to denounce the recent racially motivated attacks. I was proud to send Assemblymember Low a letter of my unwavering support of HR-23 earlier this week. There is no place for these incidents of hate in our state.

For those who celebrate Lunar New Year, I wish you a Happy Year of the Ox and also a successful conclusion to all the excellent Black History Month programs.

With gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki