Update from the President Oct. 5, 2018

Oct. 5, 2018

Campus Community members,                                       

Greetings! October finds Sonoma State University once again in full swing - as well as a little damp from recent rains. But this time also comes with some painful memories of what happened in our corner of the world just 12 months ago.

A number of activities are planned around Sonoma County to mark the anniversary of the fires that swept through the North Bay in October 2017 destroying some 6,000 homes, including 80 belonging to faculty, staff and students here at Sonoma State. For example, a special gathering is planned for downtown Santa Rosa on Monday, Oct. 8 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. which will include a reading by Sonoma County Poet Laureate Maya Khosla, and a firefighter memorial bell ringing that begins at 6 p.m. The bell will ring 44 times, once for each individual who died in the fires.

Also at the Museum of Sonoma County there will be an exhibition, “From the Fire:  A Community Reflects and Rebuilds.” The exhibition examines the fires from personal, historical and environmental perspectives and highlights art’s power as a healing tool. SSU art professor Gregory Roberts has created ceramic art pieces utilizing ash from various home sites. I am looking forward to seeing my own Red Barn pot that was selected to be a part of the exhibit. The exhibition runs from Oct. 6 to Jan. 27, 2019.

I think these are important events. I hope they serve not just as reminders of what was lost a year ago but also what was gained - how we all came together as a campus and as a community to support one another and how that support has continued throughout the year. To me, those days, including the nine days we had to close the campus, revealed the special power, the uniqueness, the true heart of our campus community, and I continue to be filled with gratitude and pride for all that we were able to do together. 

Reflections Art Exhibit in SSU Library

I also recommend visiting the new exhibit at the library gallery titled “Reflections: After the Fire.” The exhibit includes paintings, photography, video and mixed media all produced by individuals, including first-responders, who were greatly affected by the fires. Some items salvaged from my own home also will be on display. It’s a deeply personal and moving exhibit, one that speaks to both our pain and resilience of the past year. I encourage you to stop and visit.

The show is located in both the Library Gallery and 2North exhibit area on the second floor of the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center and will be on display through Friday, Dec. 14. All of you also are invited to attend a special reception on Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., which will include some special guests including Press Democrat Columnist and local historian Gaye LeBaron. The date marks the one-year anniversary of Sonoma State’s reopening following our nine-day closure during the fires. 

CAPS services

For some of us, especially those who lost homes or were evacuated, we also understand that this can be a challenging time as the recovery and healing from that horrific event is continuing. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help through Counseling and Psychological Services on campus. To make an appointment please call (707) 664-2153 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

Let’s continue to reach out and be there for our students and each other. Let’s take the time to talk, share and listen to one another. Let’s continue to be the caring campus community that we are. We are Sonoma State strong!

With Gratitude,

Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki