Update from the President Nov. 6, 2020

November 6, 2020
Dear Campus Community,

I write to you at the start of another month that already feels tumultuous, with COVID cases rising around the country and our attention riveted on the election results of so many national, state, and local races.

At a time like this, I know that it can be difficult to focus on the progress being made by our students as they keep working towards their degrees and to recognize and celebrate our faculty and staff members for the incredible amount of work they have put into supporting our students as they achieve the dream of a college education despite the pandemic, wildfires, and widespread social unrest.

As President of Sonoma State, I want to make very clear how proud I am of the effort that all of you – students, faculty, and staff – have undertaken for and in support of these educational dreams. I know that as the end of the semester nears, we all must make the extra push to finish the term strong. And I know that this can feel even harder after months of relentless interconnected crises.

But when I think of our Seawolf community, and especially of our students – many of whom already have overcome profound challenges in their lives – I’m reminded of the words of the civil rights leader Marian Wright Edelman. As she once said, “Don’t assume a door is closed … and if it’s closed today, don’t assume it’s closed tomorrow. Keep pushing on it.”

As we enter the new month of November, I encourage each one of you to take these words to heart – whether you’re working on completing your fall coursework, or working hard on your responsibilities as faculty and staff. Don’t ever assume the doors to your dreams are closed. Don’t ever stop pushing for those dreams. And don’t ever forget that even if we’re not together on campus right now, our entire Seawolf community is still here for you. We are all rooting for your dreams to come true.

Seawolf campaigns to serve our North Bay community

Please join me in congratulating the members of our campus community who were just elected to office! Caroline Bañuelos won a seat on the Santa Rosa Junior College Board and Ben Ford won a seat on the Cotati City Council. Martha Byrne will join the Bennett Valley Union School District School Board in December and Malinalli Lopez will begin her position on the City of Windsor School Board that same month. Congratulations!

Encourage future Seawolves to apply to Sonoma State

Do you have friends, family members, or neighbors who you think would make great future Seawolves? If so, please encourage them to apply! Applications are currently being accepted for both first-time first-year students and transfer students for Fall 2021. The deadline to apply is December 15, 2020, and the application may be accessed via the following link: http://admissions.sonoma.edu/how-apply

Congratulations to our campus community members

I’m delighted to congratulate several of our Sonoma State Seawolves for the well-deserved recognition they have recently received!

Kudos to our campus DREAM Center and its ASPIRE Program for their selection as the 2020 recipient of the NASPA Region VI Innovative Program Award. This honor acknowledges individuals or institutions that have implemented innovative programs to enhance the growth and campus experience of students and/or result in improved student services. Congratulations!

Congratulations as well to Dr. Anna Valdez, the chair of Sonoma State’s Nursing Department, on receiving the 2020 Global Hero Award from GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, along with her colleagues at Nursing Mutual Aid! Dr. Valdez and Nursing Aid received this honor in recognition of their sustained social justice work to resolve systems of oppression in nursing.

I’m also thrilled to congratulate SSU senior student Therese Azevedo for receiving one of CSU’s very prestigious Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement! This is an honor that is only bestowed on 23 students out of the more than 480,000 students enrolled in the CSU system. The award recognizes Therese’s hard-earned success as a first-generation, multi-racial student majoring in Statistics and honors the work she is doing to give back to her community, including as a volunteer mentor for middle-grade girls in STEM. A special thank you to Therese’s advisors, mentors and faculty, too!

And finally, I’m delighted to recognize that Dr. Greg Sarris, SSU’s Graton Rancheria Endowed Chair in Native American Studies, has just been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Heyday, the legendary Bay Area non-profit book publisher. Dr. Sarris was selected not only for his work as a writer and professor but also for his social justice advocacy. Congratulations!

Native American Heritage Month

While November marks Native American Heritage Month in the United States, we at Sonoma State gratefully honor year-round the indigenous peoples collectively known as the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo, now formally recognized as the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, for their stewardship of the beautiful land on which our university stands. We also thank their descendants for their significant work in upholding that legacy of stewardship and in undertaking educational initiatives such as the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Learning Center at SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

Over the next few weeks, I hope you will join our Department of Native American Studies, EOP, The HUB Cultural Center, and our Native American student mentors for some wonderful virtual programming celebrating Native American Heritage Month. To learn more, please visit the “Celebrating Heritage and Identity” page on our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website, or access the following link: http://hub.sonoma.edu/native-american-heritage-month-2020

Looking Ahead

November also means that despite our physical distance from one another, we will soon gather virtually with family, friends, and community members to celebrate Thanksgiving. 2020 has ushered so much stress and sorrow into our lives, yet I know that there is still so much for which we are grateful.

This month we honor and are thankful for our Native American communities, and we honor and are thankful for our veteran community. This month the season shifts from autumn to winter, from colder, clearer sunshine to the rains we hope will soon start to fall, and we are thankful for our beautiful North Bay community. We are thankful for our Seawolf community, and we are thankful for the communities that raised us and continue to support us.

The Native Californian poet Janice Gould, who was a Konkow Maidu writer and teacher, wrote in her poem “Drift” words that call to my mind so much of the gratitude we feel, even in our time of such persistent challenges:

“I utter a silent wish or what might be

a prayer, not for me alone, but for this place

of rock and water, this earth of fire and stone,

this time of revelation and reverie –

for the consequences of our living,

and of having lived.”

I am thankful for each and every one of you, our valued students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community supporters.

With gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki