Expressions of Gratitude

Wednesday, May 24, 2023, 3:00pm

To the Sonoma State Community,

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be Sonoma State’s President, and I want to thank everyone who has given so much to this university, helping it become the rare jewel it is. It is fortuitous that this announcement was made just after Commencement, as I had been contemplating the incredible celebrations that result from months of planning and coordination. There was so much joy, pride, and celebration during this year’s ceremonies, it was impossible not to be awed by the incredible work our campus puts into preparing our students for the rest of their lives.

On that note, I want to express my thanks to the array of individuals, committees, and departments that made this weekend, and all of the festive and coordinating activities leading up to it, such a rousing success. In the days prior to the final ceremonies, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, led by Tramaine Austin-Dillon and Shelly Gomez of the HUB, coordinated our Cultural Graduations, including the Asian/Pacific Islander (API) and Middle Eastern (ME); Rainbow; Raza; Native American/Indigenous (NAI); and Black Graduation celebrations. We had three honorary doctorate recipients, in Anne and Dante (Dan) Benedetti and Herman J. Hernandez, who were honored at a splendid reception coordinated by University Advancement, especially Tiffany O’Neil, who oversees Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving along with the SSU Alumni Association Board, and the CSU Chancellor’s Office. Mo Phillips also deserves recognition for SSU’s Toast of the Town Event, a collaboration between Student Involvement and the Alumni Association Board that toasts our graduates with champagne and good wishes. Then we’re off to the final commencement ceremonies, which were expertly planned by the Commencement Committee, chaired by University Advancement’s Mario Perez and the Green Music Center’s Caroline Neyman, along with their capable logistics committee of representatives from all campus divisions. I know I have left out many names of faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and others who contributed to such a memorable and joyful weekend, but please know I am grateful for everything you did for the sake of our graduates.

I also want to extend my most heartfelt appreciation for all of the support, trust, and faith that have been invested in me and in Sonoma State University over the past year. I appreciate all of the wisdom, collaboration, and generous guidance many of you have provided. Faculty, staff, and students demonstrated time and again their deep belief in the value of the SSU campus. Your willingness to provide feedback and engage constructively in shared governance at a time when our university is negotiating one of the most consequential crossroads of its 62-year history meets my respect and appreciation.

We are all stewards of this beautiful campus and its uniquely valuable place in the CSU system, and I am very grateful to continue my service as President. Such a position was not in my immediate professional vision when I was invited to this role, but I am now so deeply attached to SSU and its interconnected communities that I cannot imagine myself anywhere else right now. And I am even more hopeful now for Sonoma State’s future - for vibrant and compelling contributions to the growth and well-being of the county, state, nation, and world – than when all of our goals for the university were still abstract. Because I see how wonderful this place is, and how much loyalty there is to the Seawolf vision, that I cannot bring myself to see anything but our ultimate success. We can do this, and I am here to help us be the very best we can be. Thank you again for the trust you have shown in me; I will dedicate my future at SSU to exceeding your expectations.

Go Seawolves!

Ming-Tung "Mike" Lee

Sonoma State University