Update from the President Dec. 16, 2016

Dec. 16, 2016

Dear Sonoma State Community,

My first semester at Sonoma State is drawing to a close, and this week has been an exciting time of the year as our students worked tirelessly on their final exams and papers. It was wonderful to see our faculty and staff creating an atmosphere of encouragement for students during this “crunch time” and I have also heard great feedback from students about the extended hours in the Library.

I have a number of other developments and transitions I want you to know about. 

First, some good news in the area of grants and scholarships. Our campus just received a $580,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a Makerspace in the Library for students, faculty and staff to use free of charge. I applaud the efforts of Jeremy Qualls, Lynn Cominsky and other collaborators on this project.  We can inspire Sonoma State students to turn ideas into functional prototypes via 3D printers and marketing through the Made By Seawolves store.

Sonoma State’s sustainability efforts were just enhanced by a $330,000 grant from the Sonoma County Water Agency to support our university WATERS (Watershed Academics To Enhance Regional Sustainability) program. This is a great way for our students to gain valuable hands-on experience.

I signed an agreement to make Sonoma State a partner college with TheDREAM.US, the nation's largest college access program offering privately funded scholarships to undocumented students. Sonoma State was the only institution in California added this year as a new partner college with TheDream.US. These new scholarships for incoming freshmen and transfer students are renewable each year, and can cover a maximum of $25,000 towards a bachelor's degree.

With students returning home for the winter break, I wanted to remind graduating seniors to start conversations with family and friends about planning for commencement. This year we’ll host six commencement ceremonies in Weill Hall at the Green Music Center on the weekend of May 20 and 21:

  • Saturday, 9 a.m. – Business and Economics
  • Saturday, 1 p.m. – Science and Technology
  • Saturday, 5 p.m. – Arts & Humanities
  • Sunday, 9 a.m. – Social Sciences (part A)
  • Sunday, 1 p.m. – Social Sciences (part B)
  • Sunday, 5 p.m. – Education

Dan Condron, our Vice President for University Affairs at Sonoma State, will be retiring at the end of the month.  Dan has served as a wonderful ambassador to the local community these past 11 years.

We also have some new faces in new places on campus. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Stacy Heldman-Holguin as the Interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs.  She brings a wealth of experience in residential life and campus life from UC Berkeley. We wish Matthew Lopez-Phillips well in his new position at CSU Stanislaus. 

Within my office Sam Graham is my new executive assistant. Please contact her with scheduling and other requests for the President's Office.  I would like to thank Sue Hardisty, who has served in the President's Office for many years and who accepted a position in Student Affairs.

Our cabinet position searches are moving forward. The EVP/Provost search committee is reviewing candidates.  The job posting for Vice President for Advancement is open and the search committee will be reviewing applications in the coming weeks.  We are working with the Catherine French Group on the search for the position of Executive Director for the Green Music Center as Zarin Mehta has announced that he will be retiring.

Henry Hansel, local business leader and current vice chair, will serve as the new chair of the Weill Hall and Green Music Center Board of Advisors.  Sandy Weill and Joan Weill have stepped down as chair and vice chair, respectively.  I am excited about this new opportunity to work with Henry to achieve even greater integration of the Green Music Center with our faculty, students and community.  Ben Ford, chair of our Academic Senate, put it well when he said, “The center’s slogan is to ‘Aim high, reach wide and educate all.’ The Weills have played a huge role in the ‘aim high’ part of that mission and they have really helped to get the flagship program off to a great start. But the ‘reach wide and educate all’ parts of that mission are what we need to focus on now.”

The Press Democrat ran a profile article not too long ago about my presidency.   We continue on the path of prioritizing student success and our academic mission, and this journey is one that we take step-by-step together. 

Congratulations to our students on finishing their final exams, and thank you to each member of our Sonoma State campus community who helped them.  Have a wonderful holiday season.  I look forward to seeing and working with you in 2017!


Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki