August 31, 2023
What welcome sights and sounds late summer brings to Sonoma State University. Warm days yield to increasingly cooler nights, and as we watch new generations of ducks and geese take flight from and return to the Lakes, hints abound of the fall season just around the corner.
But summer once again refused to give way to fall before our new and returning students, faculty, and staff enlivened campus, freshly renewing the energy, enthusiasm, and optimism that permeates our special institution.
Like many of you, I took an active part in Welcome Week and profoundly enjoyed meeting incoming students, their parents and families, and countless returning students. Following Move-In Day on Tuesday, August 15, new students and their parents explored campus, attended information and icebreaker sessions designed to get to know fellow students and campus resources, and met with deans and staff at each of SSU’s six schools. Activities included live music, games, speed friending, a scavenger hunt, the Great Seawolf Search, Culture Night, a Club and Campus Resource Fair, Love Your Library, and Potentia, where students bid farewell to their high school and college careers and greeted their careers at Sonoma State. Students and parents joined faculty and staff to pose for a Seawolf Family Photo at the SSU Lakes, with parents joining me and SSU staff afterward for a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception on the Wine Spectator Learning Center patio. The week wrapped up with Sonoma State’s largest service project of the year, a cleanup of Copeland Creek coordinated by Associated Students’ JUMP: Sonoma Serves, and with Big Nite, a carnival, club fair and vendor fair spread out across the South Lawn and Parking Lot D on Sunday night.
I can’t say that I made it to every single event, but I will say I slept very soundly the weekend before classes began on Monday, August 21. My very grateful thanks to everyone on campus for making Welcome Week such a success, especially the teams in Student Affairs/Student Involvement, Residential Education and Campus Housing (REACH), Culinary Services, Facilities Management, University Advancement, the Sonoma State Police Department, and the Student Center.
Thrilling as the new school year is, we shouldn’t overlook the many activities and opportunities for engagement and outreach that SSU experienced over a busy summer.
In early June, I and other SSU staff were pleased to meet with Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris and members of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria at a groundbreaking ceremony for access, parking, and visitor center improvements to the tribe’s Learning Center at Fairfield Osborn Preserve. The ceremony was followed by an impromptu visit to Chairman Sarris’ lovely home, with the entire day’s events underscoring the valuable relationship Sonoma State and the tribe have with one another on multiple levels.
A few days later, Sonoma State continued to raise its profile to prospective students in Southern California when Provost Moranski and I took part in a historic Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony with the Los Angeles Community College District, guaranteeing admission to SSU for graduates from all nine LACCD colleges.
I also was pleased to take part in many on-campus events in July and August, including a Cabinet retreat, a Facilities staff barbecue, and meetings with the Fukuyama Transportation Japanese Speech Contest delegation; a delegation from Tunghai University International School (my alma mater), and Rohnert Park Mayor Samantha Rodriguez. And I of course cannot forget to mention several wonderful performances Fei and I attended at Green Music Center.
It’s generally thought that spring is the annual time of rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings, and that belief surely is accurate. But one can certainly make the argument that late summer and early fall at Sonoma State University – when incoming and returning students, new and returning faculty and staff, and our surrounding communities surge with the fresh energy of a new school year – give spring a run for its money. Here’s to a great 2023-24!
Mike Lee, Ph.D.