Update from the President Oct. 25, 2016

Oct. 25, 2016

Sonoma State Campus Community Members:

Happy October! It’s amazing and a bit scary to me that it’s already almost time for Halloween. I have recently passed the milestone mark of completing my first 100 days. My days have been a whirlwind of campus meetings, department visits, student events, interviews with reporters, alumni happenings, walk n’ talk sessions, community events, and welcoming friends, prospective students, and family to the campus. We have celebrated faculty and staff at a Service Awards Ceremony and honored staff who have completed Probationary Periods in their new positions. I continue to be listening and learning. Thank you to all who have shared their passion for Sonoma State with me and have offered advice on how we can become even better. 

So, it is time to provide a few updates on some of the ideas and aspirations that were discussed at our fall convocation.

Organizational Changes

As I noted at convocation, I believe that Sonoma State should be “student-centered” and that our decisions should support the academic mission of the University. Accordingly, we are in the process of making some organizational changes. Efforts have been underway in recent weeks to move Residential Life, Greek Life, the Center for Student Leadership, Involvement and Service, Campus Life, and the Student Center from Administration & Finance to Student Affairs in order to create a revitalized Student Affairs Division under Interim Vice President Michael Young. Additionally, Registrar & Records, Enrollment Management, Admissions and Recruitment, EAP, Advising, the Career Center, EOP, Orientation, Testing, Early Academic Outreach, the Learning Center and Pre-College Programs are moving from Academic Affairs to Student Affairs. As of this writing, these units officially report to the Vice President for Student Affairs.

In addition, pre- and post-award operations have been brought together in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and will report to Academic Affairs. We are also creating a clearer differentiation of roles with respect to Title IX. Consistent with best practices outlined in the Chancellor’s Executive Order 1095, Title IX will report to my office while Human Resources will continue to handle other discrimination and labor grievances.

Development and University Affairs are being integrated into a single Advancement Division under Interim Vice President Peter Smits. We have much untapped potential in Advancement. Improved campus-wide coordination of our efforts with alumni relations and fundraising success will translate to greater student support and overall assistance to the University.

Leadership Searches

Our search for a permanent Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs is underway. Please recommend potential candidates to Deborah Hodson of Isaacson Miller (dhodson@imsearch.com) or nominate someone at http://www.imsearch.com/searches/details/content/S5-870 . This search is chaired by Interim Provost Echeverria and includes a staff, a student, a dean and faculty representatives. This is an extremely important leadership position for the campus. Please take the time to think of individuals to recommend.

The search for the Vice President of Advancement will begin soon utilizing the Aspen Leadership Group search firm that specializes in finding experienced talent in this area. Following this, we’ll move forward with other searches.

Finally, Zarin Mehta, Co-Executive Director of the Green Music Center has indicated a desire to retire as soon as a suitable replacement is found. Based on this, and the review of and recommendations regarding the GMC by John Welty, Fresno State President Emeritus, we will be conducting a national search for an Executive Director. Zarin has graciously offered to assist us as a consultant during the transition. The new Executive Director of the GMC will report to me and serve on my cabinet. I am consulting with and working closely with the Weill Hall and Green Music Center Board of Advisors on these changes.

Closing Thoughts

Last week, I pushed myself out of my “comfort zone” and did something that I have never done before. I narrated Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and performed on the GMC stage with the University Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Incidentally, I don’t play a musical instrument and cannot read music. The students and Dr. Collinsworth were extremely patient with me as they started again and again as I worked to get it right. After three rehearsals and much support, I was nervous, but ready…or so I was told. Fortunately, on the evening of the performance, all went well! The students, faculty, and I learned so much together…and even had fun in the process. I have found that sometimes I just have to throw myself into something new and trust the process.

As I mentioned before, I am continuing to listen and learn from all of you. Just this week, I began meeting with individuals who spoke at last year’s Open Forum with Chancellor White about what they hoped for in the new Sonoma State President. I wanted to follow up with them to gain feedback, hear suggestions, and discover whether that group believes we are going in the right directions. We are having lively and engaging conversations. What continues to inspire me is the commitment, care, and passion that they and you have. This is what brought me to Sonoma State and this is what will help our students to succeed.

In addition to in-person conversations, I plan to send out occasional written campus updates like this one. Should you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please talk to your supervisor or respective Interim Vice President. We welcome your thoughts.

Thank you for all that you do. Have a great week!


Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki