Update from the President March 4, 2020

March 4, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Although 2020 is only two months old, I know this year may already seem a little too busy, a little too stressful and a little too overwhelming. From a rainless February to a long presidential election season, from uncertainty about the coronavirus (COVID-19) to more familiar worries about midterms and class assignments, I understand the concern and even the anxieties that are felt by many members of our campus community. 

I want to assure you that I recognize those concerns and that we at Sonoma State are committed to keeping our campus community strong, resilient and well-informed. I hold great faith in all of you – our faculty, students and staff – and I am proud of both the determination and the compassion that you have made integral to day-to-day life at our university. Despite any challenges we might face, our Sonoma State community continues to give me, in the words of Nobel laureate and social justice activist Jane Addams, “faith in new possibilities and courage to advocate them.”

Coronavirus update

We are continuing to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and any potential implications the virus might have for our campus community. On Monday, Sonoma County declared a local public health emergency so that county and public health officials can move more quickly and efficiently to keep the North Bay safe. 

I want to make clear that there are currently no confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus at Sonoma State. Meanwhile, we remain in close contact with local, state and federal public health and emergency management agencies to prepare for an outbreak response should one be necessary. In the meantime, we are asking all members of the Sonoma State community to please practice the same preventive health measures you would during any flu season:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home when you are sick and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen. Students should call the Student Health Center (707-664-2921) before coming in, and faculty and staff should contact their primary care providers. 

To learn more, I encourage you to visit the Sonoma State FAQ page, which offers links to other helpful sites including the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.   

Welcoming future Seawolves to Sonoma State

This past Saturday – Leap Day! – I was delighted to welcome prospective Seawolves and their families to our campus’ first Seawolf Preview Day. Students who are just beginning to research the college and transfer application process met with counselors and faculty members, asked questions about joining the Sonoma State community and toured our beautiful campus. An estimated 500 people attended including some 250 prospective students.

Preview Day marks just one of the many welcome events we hold to inform prospective students about all the opportunities Sonoma State offers. In that same tradition, our university will host Seawolf Saturday on March 14 – yet another information session and campus tour for potential future Seawolves. We hope you will join us in welcoming any prospective students and family members that you might encounter at Sonoma State that day. 

Seawolf recognition 

I’m pleased to congratulate Sonoma State’s Department of Nursing for its No. 1 ranking by GradReports.com in its list of the “25 Best Undergraduate Nursing Schools in 2019.” Our nursing program also received laudatory recognition from RegisteredNursing.org, which ranked Sonoma State fourth out of 127 different nursing programs throughout California. These rankings are well-deserved and reflect both the hard work and high quality of our nursing faculty, staff and students. Congratulations!

Celebrating social justice and women’s history month

Social Justice Week is well underway at Sonoma State, and our campus is currently hosting a variety of programs to raise awareness of the need for greater equality, economic opportunity and racial and gender justice. 

Last night, a sold-out crowd at the Green Music Center heard political activist and author Angela Davis speak as part of the H. Andréa Neves and Barton Evans Social Justice Lecture Series. On March 23, noted political intellectual Noam Chomsky will speak on campus as part of the Neves-Evans Lecture Series as well. 

I loved seeing all of the students last night actively engage with Angela Davis during the Q&A session. Thanks to Women’s and Gender Studies Professor Don Romesburg for facilitating the discussion with Dr. Davis and for teaching a class this semester that focuses on her history and work. I continue to be inspired by our campus community members who bring such thoughtful and energized dialogue and advocacy to our university’s annual celebration of Social Justice Week, and I encourage you all to attend one of the many events scheduled through Saturday. 

We also commemorate Women’s History Month in March, and I hope you will join me in reflecting on the many milestones our society has marked together in the journey for justice and equality for all. This year our country celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment – the amendment that gave women the right to vote. I’m grateful for the suffrage movement, and I honor the generations of American women who did not have that right until 1920. At the same time, I recognize that while women were given the right to vote, many states made it difficult for all individuals to exercise that right and some continue to do so. The hard work of social justice continues.

Super Sunday celebration

For more than 10 years, the CSU system has partnered with faith-based leaders throughout the state to host Super Sunday during the month of February. The occasion allows CSU leaders to connect with churches and offer messages of empowerment and the importance of a college education. A number of SSU leaders, including students, staff and administrators, and I celebrated Super Sunday this year with the congregation of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond on Feb. 24. What a powerful and uplifting experience it was for all of us. We are looking at ways to take the messages that we shared that day to other community groups as well.

SSU Library Open House

Please join us this afternoon as we celebrate the renovation of the library's first floor. The Open House celebration will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will include food and fun activities. You will have an opportunity to explore the upgraded space and learn about the new support services available on the first floor of the SSU Library. Look forward to seeing you there!

Most Promising recognition

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, our Division of Student Affairs has been honored as one of “The Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs” by the publication Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Sonoma State is one of just 27 colleges or universities to receive the honor, which is given in recognition of the division’s emphasis on organizational structure, workplace diversity, staffing practices and workplace environment. The distinction was announced this week during the American College Personnel Association’s annual meeting held in Nashville, Tennessee. Congratulations to our Student Affairs team!

Dates Ahead

  • Seawolf Decision Day: Saturday, April 4

This is an opportunity for applicants who have been accepted to Sonoma State to visit campus and experience our university firsthand.

  • Spring Commencement: Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17

Graduation is right around the corner!

As we head into spring, I wish you all the best with your classes, your work and your campus responsibilities. Thank you for making Sonoma State such a caring and special university.

With gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki