Update from the President May 18, 2018

May 16, 2018

Dear Sonoma State Community,

As we approach our final days of the Spring 2018 semester, it is hard to believe that another academic year is coming to a close.  It has been a challenging year for our campus community. Last fall’s firestorms as well as events of this past week have tested our resilience, and I am so proud of all of you for coming together and helping one another through this difficult time. No group reflects our resilience better than our graduating seniors. All of your hard work and perseverance have paid off, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you this weekend at our commencement ceremonies. We are and continue to be Sonoma State Strong.   

Commencement 2018

Let the celebration begin! On Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20, Sonoma State University will be conferring more than 2,700 degrees to members of the Class of 2018 at our 57th annual commencement ceremonies. Once again, the ceremonies will be held at the Green Music Center - rain or shine. If you have out-of-town relatives who are unable to attend, please let them know that all six ceremonies will be streamed live online at commencement.sonoma.edu. We want everyone to be able to share in this important and memorable event.

Honorary Doctorates

As part of the commencement activities on May 20, we will be conferring two honorary doctorates. One will be awarded to SSU Emerita Professor of Literacy Studies and Elementary Education H. Andréa Neves and the other to George L. Ortiz, a longtime Northern California advocate for the underserved. Both serve as shining examples of the human capacity to elevate others through service. Ortiz’s degree will be conferred by CSU Trustee Chair Adam Day at the School of Social Sciences ceremony at 1 p.m., and Neves’ conferral will be at the School of Education ceremony at 5 p.m. that evening.

Distinguished Alumni awards

Last week we presented two of our Distinguished Alumni awards. One went to Delphine Metcalf-Foster, a Hutchins Liberal Studies graduate from 2001, who became the first African-American elected unanimously as National Commander for the Disabled American Veterans as well as the first woman to lead this 1.3 million-member national organization. Our other honoree is Jong Lee, who graduated from Sonoma State with a degree in Management in 1971. He is the principal of J. Lee & Associates, a private CPA firm that is one of the largest minority public accounting firms in the region. Congratulations to them both.

Excellence in Teaching

We also would like to congratulate our two winners of this year’s Excellence in Teaching Awards: Professor Scott Horstein of Theatre Arts and Dance and Sakina Gerhard, a lecturer within the Department of English. The award recognizes and honors excellence in teaching at Sonoma State University, with an emphasis on classroom instruction and other activities that promote student learning.

Strategic Plan Update

Thank you to all who participated in our Strategic Plan process. I loved the energy and attendance at our kick-off event last week for the release of the actual report. To see the final version of our Stategic Plan and get the latest information on our next steps, go to the plan web site

No Cap on CAPS

We have heard the concerns expressed about staffing of Sonoma State’s Counseling and Psychological Services, which is currently experiencing a high demand for services. We want to assure our students that funding for CAPS is not being reduced and that there is no “Cap on CAPS” in terms of the number of counselors serving students. On the contrary, we are exploring options for expanding counseling services to be able to provide even more support. We are thankful for the financial support we received through a grant from the North Bay Fire Relief Fund and are looking for other additional sources of funding to bolster CAPS.

New Campus Policies

  • Evalualtions of Athletic Coaching
  • Evaluations of Temporary Faculty

These policies can be found on the University Policies web page.

The Wine Spectator Learning Center Grand Opening

You are cordially invited to join us for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and Grand Opening of the Wine Spectator Learning Center, the new home of the Wine Business Institute within the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University. The grand opening will be held on Tuesday, May 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Please RSVP by going to https://www.tfaforms.com/4657761.

Closing thoughts

I want to again congratulate our graduates for all of their accomplishments. To our continuing students, enjoy the summer. We look forward to seeing you back in the fall. I also want to thank all of our faculty and staff for their hard work this past year.  I am truly proud of all that we have accomplished together.

As Maya Angelou once said:

“Open your eyes to the beauty around you,
Open your mind to the wonders of life,
Open your heart to those who love you,
And always be true to yourself.”

I can’t think of a better message to leave with our graduates and for all of us to take to heart.

With gratitude,
Judy K. Sakaki signature

Judy K. Sakaki