Update from the President Feb. 6, 2019

Feb. 6, 2019

Dear Campus Community,

Winter has arrived in the North Bay, and while we are grateful for the rain, I encourage you to stay safe on the roads and around campus as the cold and wet weather continues. I’d also like to recognize your achievements and productivity in the first few weeks of the spring semester. At a little more than half way through the academic year, our Seawolf community is hard at work in our classrooms and labs, our offices and meeting rooms and throughout our beautiful campus.  

Setting up our students for success

I’m thrilled that Sonoma State continues to earn recognition for its dedication to student success. I believe firmly that when the lives of our students are transformed, then our communities are transformed – both our local area and our global community. As a result, I was delighted to learn that at the start of the New Year Money magazine named Sonoma State one of the best colleges for transfer students, ranking our university number 12 out of more than 700 higher education institutions.

I also want to commend our campus’ Student Engagement team in Student Affairs for its commitment to Seawolf success. Last month, they hosted a leadership training day for more than 120 student leaders from across campus. This training continued work begun in the fall when student leaders created a new definition of what it means to be a leader at Sonoma State: “Sonoma State leaders are agents of change that continuously strive to embody the Seawolf Commitment by advocating for equity and holistic development through an inclusive and multidimensional lens.” I look forward to seeing what our remarkable student leaders will take on next.

Setting new bars for student support

As with our student leaders, our campus leaders are also focused on raising the bar for student support, engagement and success at Sonoma State. One of those leaders is Dr. Dean Kennedy, who has joined our campus community as the Director of Residential Education & Campus Housing. REACH is the result of two departments, Residential Life and Housing Services, merging into one entity to better support our students.

REACH, in Student Affairs, is well positioned to serve our students and our campus community. I want to thank Nicole Hendry, who served as Sonoma State’s Director for Housing Services for more than 20 years, as she transitions into a new role as the Director of Operations for Facilities Management on campus.

It’s a testament to the work of all within the Division of Student Affairs that ACPA-College Student Educators International and “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” magazine have selected Sonoma State as one of the “Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs for 2019.”

Only 19 other universities and colleges in the country received this honor this year. According to Diverse magazine, Sonoma State and its peer institution award winners earned this recognition in part because their student affairs workplaces are “vibrant, diverse, supportive and committed to a staff work-life balance, professional development and inclusive excellence.” I hope you will join me in congratulating our Student Affairs division for this well-deserved award.

I also would like to commend chemistry professor Dr. Jon Fukuto for his nomination for the CSU 2019 Wang Family Excellence Award in Outstanding Faculty Scholarship. And I would like to congratulate Dr. Jenny Bent, who recently received the California Music Educators Association Bay Section Outstanding Choral Music Educator Award. Both Dr. Fukuto and Dr. Bent are dedicated and committed members of our faculty, and we are very fortunate to have them at Sonoma State.

Faculty/Staff Housing

We are in the process of acquiring a 90-unit apartment community in Petaluma. This is an exciting step in our efforts to provide affordable housing options for faculty and staff. The apartments are located about 10 miles south of campus off of Highway 101. There will be studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments available for rent. 

If you are interested in adding your name to the list of prospective tenants, please email Jill Crenshaw at crenshaj@sonoma.edu and include your name, department, contact email, phone number and your preferred unit size. 

Dates Ahead

The end of the semester may feel far away, but I assure you that May – and in particular, commencement – lies just around the corner. Commencement is a celebratory effort many months in the making, and our university could not hold this significant event without the dedication, enthusiasm and hard work of so many people on campus. I encourage you to note the following important commencement dates:

2019 Sonoma State Commencement Ceremonies:

Saturday, May 18

  • 9 a.m.– School of Business and Economics
  • 1 p.m. – School of Science and Technology
  • 5 p.m. – School of Arts and Humanities

Sunday, May 19

  • 9 a.m. – School of Social Sciences A

(Anthropology, Counseling, Cultural Resources Management, History, Human Development, Political Science, Psychology, Public Administration)

  • 1 p.m. – School of Social Sciences B

(Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies, Environmental Studies and Planning, Global Studies, Geography, Liberal Studies, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies)

  • 5 p.m. – School of Education

Our Seawolf Values

In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last month, and as we kick off celebrations in recognition of Black History Month and the Lunar New Year 4717, I’d like to share my own reflection on our caring community and its core values. 

I am proud to serve as president of a university that values integrity, respect, excellence and responsibility. We need to hold one another accountable to these values and to speak up when we see instances that fall short of them. I am proud that our university serves a diverse student body. I hold great faith in Sonoma State’s commitment to these values and to this diversity. Together, I believe that we can make sure this commitment grows even stronger with each passing day.  

This month, as we honor the many African-Americans who have made our country more free, more just and more compassionate, I ask you to remember the words of Jackie Robinson, who would have turned 100 years old last Thursday. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball, and fought for civil rights for all as a social justice icon in his later years.

As Mr. Robinson once said, “I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it – and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.”

Happy Black History Month, Happy Year of the Boar, Happy Presidents Day, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

With Gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki