Greetings, Change, and Commencement at SSU

Thursday, May 16, 2024, 9:45am

To: Campus Community
From: Nathan Evans, Acting President
Re: Greetings, Change, and Commencement at SSU

Good day Seawolves:

I reach out to all of you today in a spirit of hope and promise for the entire Sonoma State community, but also with a degree of sadness about the impact recent events have made on campus leadership.

Dr. Mike Lee, who came out of retirement to take the helm as interim SSU President in 2022, and was named president in 2023, has informed the Chancellor that he has decided to go back into retirement, effective immediately.

President Lee took the reins at a critical time for SSU and implemented measures that have helped put SSU back on the path toward growth. He also worked closely with Provost Karen Moranski on an academic master plan and reorganization that better aligns university resources with current enrollment and positions the campus’ program portfolio for innovation and enrollment growth. On many occasions, I have pointed to Sonoma State’s actions and Dr. Lee’s leadership as a model for navigating change. He was an effective and enthusiastic spokesperson for stewardship of place and the value of a Sonoma State education, and in a short period of time developed community partnerships and philanthropic opportunities that connected the campus more closely to the people and workforce needs of the region. He will be missed. 

I am humbled to take on the role of Acting President of the university and look forward to meeting everyone in the Seawolf community. I join this community after serving as Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and Chief Academic Officer for the CSU and have cumulatively been a part of the CSU community for more than 20 years. I am deeply committed to the CSU’s mission and am honored to be joining the Sonoma State family in this role.

We will create spaces and places to process President Lee’s retirement and other recent developments as a community in the coming days and weeks. For now, I encourage all of us to focus on our graduates and their supporters. In partnership with Provost Moranski, I look forward to presiding over Commencement on Saturday, and am excited about meeting the graduates and their families as Sonoma State celebrates their accomplishments.

I know you will join me in celebrating the Class of 2024 as the countdown continues to Commencement on Saturday. This is a joyous time for students, their families and friends, and the faculty and staff who have helped them reach this milestone in their lives and careers. We are all proud of our graduates and the educational and personal success they have achieved

Everyone should be assured that while we are addressing campus administration and operations, our focus also is on fully celebrating Commencement and the activities surrounding it. The Commencement team is fully prepared for Saturday’s ceremonies, and protocols and procedures are in place to prioritize student and visitor safety and well-being throughout the day. 

I thank each and every member of the Sonoma State community for your commitment during this time of transition, and for continuing to support and honor our students. 

To our graduates: Congratulations, Class of 2024! All of us wish you abundant new opportunities and great success!

Nathan S. Evans, Ed.D.
Acting President