COVID-19 - Academic Affairs Info Hub

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) represents an unprecedented challenge for institutions of higher education across the world. Sonoma State is no exception. This section will serve as the Division of Academic Affairs repository for all communications and resources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as it regards to Sonoma State. The Provost, AVPs and Deans would like to thank everyone within the Division for their patience and flexibility during this difficult period. 

Communications Regarding COVID-19

July 2, 2020 - Fall 2020 Update from the President

Dear Sonoma State Campus Community,

I am writing with an update about fall 2020 now that our plan for academics, housing, and dining has been approved by Chancellor Timothy White and the CSU Chancellor’s Office. As you know, classes, academic support, and student, faculty, and employee services will largely be virtual, but below is a summary of the main elements of the plan:

  • 55 courses or educational experiences comprising 106 sections (approximately 3% of our total course offerings), with a projected headcount of 686 are approved for in-person instruction. These classes include lab, clinical, fieldwork, research, and residency experiences that are not replicable in a virtual format, must occur in fall 2020, and/or must occur in person to meet accreditation, licensure, or regulatory requirements. Even these approved courses will, in most cases, not be taught fully face-to-face; lectures, for example, may be delivered virtually. You will find the list of approved courses on the Academic Affairs website.
  • First-year students will complete virtually all of their coursework remotely, and other co-curricular experiences will be delivered remotely.
  • Cleaning of campus will be increased and enhanced. Environmental and workplace protocols provide cleaning, sanitation, and physical distancing practices that are compliant with health orders.
  • Campus Housing will be available for 1,325 students with occupancy limited to one person per bedroom and bathroom, which is approximately 41% of typical capacity (3,223). Dining services will be scaled to address the actual occupancy of Campus Housing for fall 2020 and will be primarily grab-and-go.
  • We will centralize in-person courses, create flexible-use office space for faculty/staff, and place needed support services primarily in Darwin and Salazar Halls.
  • We will ensure Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and county guidelines will be followed regarding physical distancing, face coverings, sanitation, and cleaning to promote public health and provide safe conditions for learning and working. 
  • The Continuity Planning Groups have established a subgroup to create and evaluate protocols to phase in faculty research activities that require campus facilities.
  • Employees who can effectively work remotely are encouraged to continue to telecommute for the remainder of the Fall 2020 semester. This will allow us to maintain appropriate physical distancing on campus in order to protect public health and safety. We have distributed an assessment survey to managers to understand which critical functions are required to be performed on campus. Managers will communicate with employees in their departments about the work format (telecommuting, on-campus or a combination of both) from July 6 through the remainder of the Fall 2020 semester. 

To help with future updates we are developing a comprehensive website that will provide details related to Sonoma State’s plans for fall 2020. The website will be ready in the next two weeks and will be linked directly from the campus COVID-19 homepage.

The unpredictable nature of this pandemic requires us to be flexible while doing as much as possible to ensure health and safety. While this fall will be different than previous years, we approach it with the total commitment to student success and transformative impact that defines Sonoma State. Thank you for your contributions to our efforts.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

With gratitude,


Judy K. Sakaki


April 30, 2020 - Finals Letter to Faculty

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the end of what has been a truly difficult semester (and, indeed, academic year), we want to thank everyone for the hard work you (we) have all put in adapting to the challenging conditions of moving to remote instruction. As you know, more changes are on the horizon, but for the moment, we are looking just at issues that may come up for students, faculty, and advisors as we approach finals week and the end of the semester.

Final exams: 

Even though classes are not being taught on campus, it is very important that everyone stick to the final exam schedule as posted ( in order to  prevent unexpected conflicts. Please do not require students to attend class at a different time or assume that students are free to attend an online session outside of your regular exam window. At the same time, please remember that many students are working new hours, caring for family members, or struggling with limited internet access and be flexible where you can.

The grading memo will go out at the end of this week, and grade rosters memo will be available May 11.

The DSS office usually administers over 300 examinations during finals week, but will not be doing so due to the current circumstances. Faculty will be administering these exams on their own and providing DSS approved accommodations for timed examinations, or will be evaluating students using other measures. DSS is available for consultation during this time.

Extra time for test-taking

Advising reminders:

Incompletes assigned in Spring 2019 that would normally lapse to an F at the end of Spring 2020 will be extended to December 2020. A fillable PDF version of the incomplete form has been sent to Deans, AMs, and department ACs for faculty wishing to assign incompletes this  semester.

Dean’s List and Academic Honors: SSU will continue to award Academic Honors and Dean’s List to undergraduate students. The process for Spring 2020 will take into account the special circumstances of COVID-19 that may result in students being below the required unit minimums for Dean’s List and Academic Honors.

Credit/No Credit (CR/NC):

  • Until May 8, undergraduate students may change their grade mode in MySSU for any course (majors, GE, electives). In a handful of courses, MySSU will not allow this change for accreditation reasons.

  • After May 8 until 5:00 on June 5, students may petition to change their grade mode from letter grade to CR/NC for reasons having to do with COVID-19. Grade modes may NOT be changed from CR/NC back to letter grade after May 8.

  • A CR grade is equivalent to a C- or better and will count toward completion of GE, all majors/minors, and pre-requisites except in the case of a handful of courses previously designated by departments for accreditation reasons.

  • The grading memo from the Registrar, available by May 11, will clarify what grades (WU, F, Incomplete, NC) should be given to students depending on circumstances.

Course Repeats: 

  • Based on Executive Order 1037, the campus policy on course repeats ordinarily permits a student to repeat a course in which they earned a C- or below once for “grade replacement” and again for “grade averaging” in the same grade mode, up to a total of  16 units. (

  • The CSU Chancellor’s Office issued a series of temporary modifications to EO 1037 such that, for Spring 2020, the following are true:

    • Students who are repeating a course in Spring 2020 that they previously took for a letter grade may use a CR earned in Spring 2020 for “grade replacement.” 

    • Students who earn either a CR or a NC grade in Spring 2020 may subsequently repeat the course for a letter grade. 

    • Students who are currently repeating a course in Spring 2020 for “grade replacement” may choose to take the course a third time in a future semester for “grade replacement.”

    • Units earned for a repeated course in Spring 2020 are excluded from the 16 unit maximum for “grade replacement.”


  • Students may withdraw from one or more classes for “serious & compelling” reasons, including the impact of the COVID-19 situation, through May 8.

  • After May 8, students may retroactively withdraw from one or more classes for “serious & compelling” reasons.

  • A list of “serious & compelling” reasons may be found here:

  • The forms for withdrawal may be found here:

Students and professional advisors are also being notified of all this information, but those of us on the front line of working with students are best suited, in many cases, to helping students sort out how to manage decisions about how to deal with the impact of this semester.

Faculty with questions about how any of these policies apply in particular situations are welcome to contact

Wishing you the best as we approach the end of the term,

Jenn Lillig, Chair, Educational Policies Committee

Michelle Jolly,  Chair, University Standards Committee

Karen Moranski, Senior AVP of Academic Programs


April 23, 2020 - Provost Message about COVID-19 Planning

Dear Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff,

I hope this finds you healthy and well. 
I am writing to share some thoughts about the context in which we find ourselves as we navigate COVID-19 as a campus and as a community. 
COVID-19 has taught us that, as members of a 21st-century global society, we can simultaneously know a lot and very little about a new disease and its trajectory. This is a humbling and sobering experience for all. 
It is rare for those of us in leadership positions to say that we do not have a clear plan of action, but the reality is that we all are navigating the new COVID-19 reality with the best available information, and that information changes (relatively reliably) on a weekly basis. 
As we all know, this presents daily challenges to decision-making both for short- and long-term planning. 
The SSU Emergency Operations Center (EOC) continues to support Sonoma State’s operational and planning efforts. It is strange to say that we are fortunate to have so much emergency management experience, as I am aware that this experience has been hard won because of our fires, smoke outs, and other crises that impacted our community over the past three years. Nonetheless, I personally feel very fortunate to work with so many dedicated people who have the knowledge, experience, and values to help lead us through this unprecedented public health crisis.
SSU is evaluating multiple planning scenarios that include: (1) how long we might be telecommuting; (2) how we might phase a re-entry of staff if the shelter-in-place orders are eased over time; (3) how and when we will make a decision about whether to have fall face-to-face classes while abiding by social distancing and contact tracing requirements; and (4) how and when we will make a decision about whether to go fully remote for fall instruction. 
As you can imagine, there are many factors that influence each of these decisions, including the facts that: (1) the County of Sonoma and the state of California both have shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders in effect; (2) we have an Alternate Care Site on our campus in service to our county; (3) we are part of a larger CSU system providing guidance to campuses about decision-making; and (4) projections about the trajectory of COVID-19 remain significantly variable based on underlying assumptions that are changing rapidly as medical professionals learn more about the virus and its spread in the population. 
Please know that I am aware—as is all of the academic and university leadership—that we are asking a lot of our faculty, students, and staff in this truly unprecedented moment. 
I am aware, too, that many questions remain unanswered and that many of you are wondering what comes next. Some faculty and staff want to know whether we can hire research assistants for July and August. Others are wondering when they can return to labs or studios to do work on-site. Still others are wondering how long we will have to shelter-in-place while also teaching our children, limiting our activities, and wearing masks when outside. 
For many reasons, I honestly wish I could answer these questions now. Fundamentally, the ability to answer them with certainty would signal that there is enough accurate information to project the path COVID-19 will take locally and in our state. We are far from that point, however.
For now, I commit to you that, when I have more information, I will share it with you.  I also ask for your patience and perseverance as we continue to navigate this situation together. 
Please continue to do your best to protect yourself and your loved ones. This is the contribution we can all make to keeping ourselves and our community healthy and well.
In deep gratitude and admiration, 
Lisa Vollendorf, Provost
Sonoma State University 

April 8, 2020 - Important Faculty Message: Students and Remote Learning

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 3:57pm

Dear Colleagues,

We hope this email finds you well and sheltering safely in place. We thank you for your care and concern for students during this pandemic, and we thank you for all you are doing to ensure that students successfully conclude a very difficult semester. As faculty, I am sharing the challenges you face in suddenly shifting to remote teaching.

As we head into the last few weeks of classes, I wanted to share some of the feedback we are getting from students and some tips for helping students succeed:

  1. Many students report that faculty are communicating regularly with their students about changes to the course schedule, assignments, deadlines, and new ways of communicating and sharing course material. Thank you!
  2. Some students report that faculty are asking students to print and mail assignments. Please do not ask your students to do this. Many do not have printers, stamps, or envelopes at home, and asking them to mail course assignments would likely lead to students having to violate shelter in place orders. In addition, with so many students having lost jobs or their parents having lost jobs, printing and mailing is an expense they can ill afford. If you like reading student work in paper rather than in electronic format, please print that work yourself. It is safer that way--receiving copies of student work through the mail may spread the coronavirus. You may also want to contact the Faculty Center to find ways to read student work electronically in ways that are more comfortable for you. If you are asking students to print as an accommodation for a disability, please contact Renee Senander in Human Resources ( to request such accommodations.
  3. A common fallacy is that students have more time on their hands at home. Please be aware that students do not have more time in the pandemic--they likely have less. They are sharing computer time with multiple family members, they are taking care of and helping to homeschool siblings, they are taking care of ill loved ones, they may be taking chances with health to try to find work, and they are stressed out and distracted because of the situation.
  4. Some students report that faculty teaching asynchronously are requiring more work of students than the original syllabus required. Asynchronous learning does not necessarily require more or longer assignments. Please focus on ensuring students are doing a reasonable amount of work to meet the learning outcomes of the course. More assignments are not necessary. We strongly recommend consulting with the Faculty Center about how to create a manageable course load for an asynchronous class and checking in with your students about how they are perceiving their workload. It is possible to be rigorous AND reasonable, given the circumstances of people's lives in the pandemic.
  5. A kind word goes a long way. Everyone is struggling--make sure students know you care. Check in with them and see if there are things you could change that would help them learn better. Don't expect that they will learn as well or as much this semester. Consider how much is good enough and focus on getting that much accomplished. 
  6. There is a great faculty development opportunity coming up through the Faculty Center: Student Equity during Remote Teaching this Friday, April 10 from 11 a.m. to noon.

Thanks again for all your work as we continue teaching and learning this semester. We will all learn a great deal about our capacity for flexibility and endurance during these highly unusual circumstances. Take care of yourselves.


Michelle Jolly
Professor, History
Chair, University Standards

Karen Moranski
Senior AVP, Academic Programs

Deborah Roberts
AVP, Faculty Affairs

April 7, 2020 - Updates from IT and the Faculty Center

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 4:05pm

TO: SSU Faculty and Staff
FR: Lisa Vollendorf, Provost
RE: Timely Updates from IT and the Faculty Center

Thank you for all you are doing to keep Sonoma State moving forward in these incredibly challenging times. 

This message contains four important updates from IT and the Faculty Center regarding:

  1. Privacy in Zoom Meetings
  2. Level I Data
  3. Voicemail to Email Enrollment
  4. Support Options for Faculty and Staff
  1. Preserving Privacy in Zoom Meetings: Wien participating in video calls from home, which includes almost all meetings at the moment, we open ourselves to some threats that we all need to be aware of. There are people joining open Zoom sessions to cause disruption and potentially to listen in on meetings to gain sensitive information. We have had at least one incident involving this nefarious behavior at our own campus, so we urge all faculty and staff to follow all recommendations to protect Zoom sessions. 

    Zoom has released guidance to protect users from Zoom-bombing. Here are the top tips:
    1. Avoid hosting large meetings or ‘public’ events using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI). Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting and you don't want trolls invading your personal virtual space. Instead, Zoom suggests using random meeting IDs for your large meetings.
    2. Lock your meeting. You can lock a Zoom meeting once it is started and all your expected participants have joined. This prevents any new participants from joining, even if they have the meeting ID and password (if you have required one). To do this, in the meeting click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting.
    3. Require a password to join your meeting. You can require a password for any meeting when you schedule it and/or as a default for all personal ID meetings by signing into Zoom and clicking on Meetings and the Personal Meeting Room to access the password setting.
    4. If you find yourself with a disruptive participant in your meeting, you can remove them. Click on Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window then select More and Remove for the participant that you want to eject from the meeting.
    5. If someone Zoom bombs your class, please shut down the Zoom bomber immediately and inform your class of the incident. Based on an incident that occurred in an SSU class on Monday, April 6, we have learned that some students may not be aware of the incident and may assume that their peers (not an outsider) engaged in the offensive activity. We recommend that you make a statement to your students condemning such classroom disruption and reasserting our commitment to an inclusive, safe learning environment at Sonoma State.
    6. Faculty conducting live class sessions using Zoom who are concerned about privacy and security, please contact the Faculty Center for a consultation to develop strategies and practice managing a live session with disruptions. Also, see our Zoom Guides for pedagogical suggestions for using Zoom.
    As a general rule, please also remember that personal assistants like Amazon Alexa can record your conversations. Some legal experts are advising that they be turned off during private calls

    If you have any questions about how to configure or use Zoom, please contact the IT Help Desk at or 707-664-HELP.
  2. Protecting Level 1 Data: Please remember that we still have an obligation to protect sensitive data, even when working remotely. Level 1 Data, as defined in the CSU Data Classification Standard (PDF), includes but is not limited to, such highly sensitive information as:
    • social security numbers
    • driver's license numbers 
    • medical information
    • bank account numbers
    • credit card numbers

    Level 1 Data must not be stored or accessed using personally owned devices, and must not be sent through email. Level 1 Data must also not be left in voicemails because many people have their voicemail forwarded to their email.

    Staff and faculty who need a computer to use for remote work due to accessing Level 1 Data, contact
  3. Voicemail to Email Enrollment: You can sign up to have your new voicemail messages emailed to you, complete with transcription, by providing your name and phone number on our Voicemail to Email Enrollment Form.
  4. Support Options for Staff & Faculty

    Staff: The IT Help Desk has moved primarily to a virtual model and we are still providing full support to faculty, staff, and students.  Contact the IT Help Desk for assistance with VPN access, remote desktop, Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), Zoom, and other technical inquiries. The Help Desk is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.  Connect with us through any of the following ways:
      Faculty: The Faculty Center team has also moved to a virtual model, and we are providing live support for faculty. We can support teaching with Canvas, Yuja, or Zoom, and we are available to provide pedagogical advice with redesigning assessments and final projects as we move toward the end of the term while teaching remotely.  We have daily workshops at noon and 3 p.m. on Zoom on a variety of topics. The Faculty Center is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

April 3, 2020 - Thank You to Academic Affairs

Dear Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff,

It is hard to believe another week has gone by.

My message this week is very simple: thank you.

Thank you for continuing to care for yourselves and your loved ones by abiding by the shelter-in-place orders and following all CDC hygiene guidelines.

Thank you for everything you have done to move heaven and earth to get classes up and running.

Thank you for helping SSU adapt in what are, by any measure, truly unprecedented times.

Many of our faculty and staff are working, teaching, writing, and Zooming with children in the house. Many have new jobs as Home-Schooler-in-Chief. And many are living with the knowledge that we and the people we love are COVID-19 vulnerable.

I want to acknowledge that we all are carrying the burden of this pandemic in one way or another.

I am deeply grateful to all of you for doing all you can to continue to educate our deserving students even as we navigate this difficult and frightening situation.

In admiration and appreciation,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

March 27, 2020 - Message from the Provost

Dear Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff,

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. 

Thank you for the incredible work you have done to help SSU get through its first ever week of all-remote instruction. This historic transition period has been challenging, so I am particularly grateful to you for everything you have done to get us to this point. 

We have definitely had some hiccups along this journey. The Zoom glitch last weekend was very frustrating for many. Plus, we learned from Zoom yesterday that all recordings done before March 21 are unrecoverable (ugh!). Please know that the incredible faculty and staff in the Faculty Center are here to support those who may have lost content and need extra help.

Below I provide a few other updates from this week:

Campus Status Update: Since closing the Library on Wednesday, March 25, at 5 p.m., the campus has been operating with buildings locked except to on-site critical personnel. The only exceptions are the residence halls and the access doors to dining services.

Lobo’s Pantry: Student leaders stepped up this week to ensure that Lobo’s Pantry remains available for students who continue to live in the area. Food pick-up is on Tuesdays and Fridays from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Staff will evaluate usage and need over time and adapt hours as needed. 

Parking: Many faculty and staff have asked if they can turn in parking permits for a parking refund. The Employee parking permit page has been updated hereAll employees who turn in permits and/or stop payroll deduction for parking are subject to the daily rate of $5/day. Please know that students have been contacted already to invite them to request a refund by turning in their permits if they so desire. Most residential students have chosen to move out next week, so their parking refunds will be processed automatically upon check-out.

Technology Needs: We have a student laptop program that will run for another week, depending on need. If you know of students with technology needs, please invite them to complete the laptop delivery formAs technology challenges arise for faculty and staff, please work with your dean or supervisor so we can find a solution for you as soon as possible.

Internet Needs: We know, too, that some households may not have reliable internet at home. There are a few solutions available that might help some people: Several cable companies are offering free internet for students for the next 60 days. AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Google Fiber, Spring, Verizon, and T-Mobile will not disconnect anyone for the next 60 days as they are participating in the "Keep Americans Connected" Pledge (PDF). Comcast is offering Internet Essentials package for free for 60 days during the coronavirus outbreak. Charter Communication (Spectrum) is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a subscription.

All of the information above is on the SSU COVID-19 site. Also see our resource-intensive Academic Affairs COVID-19 site. Please continue to read what we post and ask questions so we can address your concerns as they arise.

I wish each and every one of you a restful weekend. 

Most of all, please be well and stay healthy.

In gratitude,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost 

March 23, 2020 - Message for Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff

Dear Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff,

As we begin offering remote instruction tomorrow, I want to thank you for the flexibility you are showing in these unprecedented times. Your creativity, persistence, and commitment to educating our students in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic are truly inspiring. We are all navigating this situation together, and we are doing the best we can to adapt to changing circumstances. I know SSU staff are working hard to help us all adapt, and I want to give a shout out to the staff in Academic Affairs for making this possible.

I am pleased to share with you an editorial written by one of our own faculty: Richard Hertz’s Welcome to the New World of Online Education provides a simultaneously sobering and uplifting commentary on the reality in which we find ourselves today. 

I also want to acknowledge that the situation that arose with Zoom today was truly frustrating across the board. I am very sorry for the problems this presented and the extra work it created. 

In light of these Zoom issues, the Faculty Center has provided us with new resources for using Zoom in Canvas. This document is linked through two of the Faculty Center’s key support sites:

Many of you have asked to know how we are communicating with our students and what supports are in place for them.  

  • We are working hard to provide students with a wide array of services to help make learning go more smoothly. Our tutoring, DSS, CAPS, and other services are all operating remotely (see the resource guides for more information). We are developing, through the Advising Center, a peer success coaching program for students. We have also reactivated NomaCares to provide support for students. Students who are struggling can get help at and will be directed to the right resource for help and information.
  • We have provided policy and procedural support on the Academic Affairs Info Hub, which offers both faculty and student resource guides that address a wide range of issues related to remote instruction and safety and well-being during the pandemic.
  • Please make sure students know about the Student Resource Guide. Take this opportunity to be in touch with your students if you have not already. 
  • On the advising side, students enrolled in courses that allow credit/no credit will now have until April 17 to change the grade mode from letter grades to credit/no credit. Students have been informed of this change, and we will provide a process for this change in the next couple of days. Please stand by for more information. 

Please stay safe and follow all recommendations to shelter in place, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds. We all are juggling an incredible amount of change and pressure, so the most important thing to do is to take care of ourselves and those we love. 

Please remember we have a cadre of people here to support you: Academic Programs, Faculty Affairs, Deans, Academic Advising, the Faculty Center, Academic Resources, Institutional Effectiveness, faculty leadership, etc. We are all available to answer questions and help SSU faculty and staff continue to deliver instruction to our students in these tremendously challenging times. 

With gratitude,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

March 23, 2020 - Message to SSU Students: Transitioning to Remote Instruction

Dear Sonoma State Students,

We hope you are staying safe and well! We are living in very uncertain times. Thank you for continuing to pursue your educational goals at Sonoma State University. 

Please remember that you are making history as the first generation of students to live through a pandemic in modern times. We are proud of you and of the resilience you are demonstrating every day as you follow all stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, practice social distancing, and wash your hands for 20 seconds frequently throughout the day. Please follow all health and safety guidelines to protect yourself and your loved ones and keeping updated on COVID-19.

Tomorrow, March 24, we begin our first day of all-remote instruction. In moving our classes to remote modalities, we are joining thousands of other universities and schools across the nation in prioritizing the health and safety of our students. We want you to know that we are here to help you be academically successful during this transition. 

Remember that your professors may choose to teach remotely in different ways that may include email, Zoom, and Canvas, for example. They will likely adjust assignments to align with this new reality. 

Sonoma State is ready to help you as we transition to all-remote teaching and learning! As a starting point, please see the Academic Affairs COVID-19 Information Hub. Also, see our Student Resource Guide, written just for you.

  • For help with Zoom see SSU’s webpage: How to Use Zoom.
  • For help with Canvas see SSU’s webpage: Getting Started with Canvas.
  • Worried about remote learning in general and want to talk to someone who can help you make that switch? Contact NomaCares at (707) 664-3833 or, and an advisor or success coach will be in touch to provide support.
  • Need Tutoring? SSU’s LARC (Learning and Academic Resource Center) includes the Tutorial Program, Supplemental Instruction Program and the Writing Center. All LARC programs and services have shifted to be remote, mainly through Zoom. Appointments can be made online here:
  • Need support for Physical and Mental Health Concerns? If you are experiencing physical or mental health setbacks including stress please call Sonoma State’s Student Health Center (707-664-2921) or  Counseling and Psychological Services (707-664-2153).
  • Concerned about your grades? If you are enrolled in courses that allow credit/no credit, you now have until April 17 to change the grade mode of your courses from letter grades to credit/no credit. We will provide a process for doing this in the next couple of days--stand by for more information. Please talk with your advisor about the impact of changing the grade mode of your courses on your semester and cumulative Sonoma State GPA. If you are a Veteran or have a scholarship that requires graded courses, please do not switch grade modes without checking with your advisor.
  • Concerned about financial aid? Contact your financial aid advisor at or (707) 664-2389. 
  • Concerned about how you are doing in your classes? We encourage you to reach out to your professors to ask questions so you can be successful in these challenging times. If you know who your advisor is, please contact him or her for a conversation. And please remember you can always email if you want advice or need help. 

Please know that SSU faculty and staff are fully committed to your success. We want you to get the most out of your educational experience this semester. We are here to help you realize your dream of graduating from SSU.

On behalf of Academic Affairs,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

March 22, 2020 - Important Post-Spring Break Message for Faculty, Students, and Staff

Dear campus community,


As spring break ends, we want to acknowledge that we have never experienced a public health crisis of this magnitude in modern times. First and foremost, it is important to remember that all of us are in this together. 

The shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders in effect in Sonoma County and the state of California aim to protect the public health by containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to follow these orders. 

We also must follow the basic hygiene recommendations (wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds) and social distancing requirements (six feet between people). The good news about COVID-19 is that simple washing with soap and water for 20 seconds will kill the virus on our hands. By socially distancing, staying at home, and hand washing for 20 seconds we have the power to protect ourselves, our communities, and our loved ones. 

Due to the increasing spread of COVID-19, the Library will close for the rest of the semester starting Wednesday, March 25 at 5 p.m. Until then, there will be limited access with limited staffing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for students to check out laptops on a first-come, first-served basis. Faculty may also access necessary resources during this time.

Faculty have a process to pick up necessary teaching materials until Wednesday at 5 p.m. In the interest of public health, all faculty must follow the school sign-up process to access offices. Given the rapidly changing circumstances regarding COVID-19, technology-assisted classrooms will be available only through Wednesday, March 25, at 5 p.m. for faculty to record lectures or perform other activities. Please contact your dean if you have questions. 

After 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, SSU will be locking down most of its buildings with the exception of the first floor of the Student Center and residence halls. Students who need to use the Student Health Center must call ahead. 

Remote classes begin on March 24 (Tuesday). We have created extensive resources for our students and faculty to transition to remote teaching and learning. Our Faculty Center staff and faculty peer mentors are working hard to support this transition. The Academic Affairs COVID-19 Info Hub also has many resources.

Academic Advising, CAPS, tutoring, and other student support services are available remotely for students. 

Because SSU has transitioned to fully remote instruction and postponed Commencement, we are encouraging all campus residents who can move home safely to do so. Students who move out by March 31 will get a housing, parking, and meal plan refund. County officials are aware that Sonoma State is encouraging campus residential students move home safely, and they support this activity as a means of protecting the public health. It is safer for our students to visit the campus once in order to move out than it is for them to return to the university and live in the residential community long term. For public health reasons, students who choose to remain on campus will be relocated in an effort to increase social distancing. Messages to students are posted here.

Staff who need to pick up necessary items from their offices are encouraged to work directly with their supervisors to schedule a safe time to come to campus. SSU is working hard to minimize the number of required essential on-site staff. We recognize these are challenging times, so we encourage staff who are seeking an accommodation or other support to reach out either to their supervisor or directly to

Social distancing of six feet between people will be required at all times on campus to ensure we protect public health. Please remember that the safest place for you to be is in your home. 

These are indeed unprecedented times, and we are all in this together. Thank you for helping SSU protect the health and safety of our entire community while we continue to educate and support our students.



Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

Wm. Gregory Sawyer, Vice President for Student Affairs

March 19, 2020 - Message for Faculty from the Emergency Operations Center

To maintain health and safety, the campus Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has worked with the Faculty Center and academic leadership to develop two processes to assist you in moving to remote teaching and learning.

Please know that we anticipate a time when the public health crisis may cause SSU to limit people’s access to their offices. Also, it is important to know that faculty offices have not been appropriately sanitized and we cannot guarantee that they will be given the shelter-in-place order.

As such, we are implementing the following processes:

  1. Process to pick up teaching and learning materials from your office or lab quickly and efficiently.
  2. Sign-up process to use classrooms in Salazar Hall for remote teaching and learning. Classrooms are available only for faculty who absolutely need classroom access to film lectures or conduct other activities.

Sonoma State has many resources to assist you and your students:

  1. The Faculty Center has instructional design resources for teaching remotely. See their Teaching Through Disruptions web page.
  2. Academic Affairs has faculty, student, and parent resources available at the COVID-19 - Academic Affairs Info Hub.
  3. The IT Help Desk is available for technical questions by phone at 4-HELP. We are working on extended hours for the IT Help Desk and will update you as more information becomes available.




  1. Pick-up must be pre-scheduled to occur Monday, March 23, Tuesday, March 24, and Wednesday, March 25, between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm. Academic buildings will be locked outside of regular business hours.
  2. All CDC recommendations for health and safety remain in effect, including social distancing and limiting gathering.
  3. Deans will send out a spreadsheet sign-up process. Please make sure you sign up for a two-hour time slot. We can allow no more than 10 faculty per school per time slot. If you need more time, please work with your dean.


Deans will contact faculty to provide a sign-up process in time slots of two hours. Faculty are limited to ONE two hour-long time slot during the three-day period. If you need additional time, please coordinate with your dean. School offices will be open and staffed by one person during those 3 days.




  1. For your safety, a limited number of classrooms in Salazar Hall have been sanitized and are available for faculty who absolutely need classroom access to film lectures or conduct other activities. The expectation is that most learning activities will be done remotely, off-site, and asynchronously.
  2. To ensure equitable access to the classroom space, faculty may only sign up for one two-hour period per week.


Faculty who need to sign up for a classroom in Salazar Hall should email Dennis Goss at Please provide your name and your preferred date and time for a two-hour time block. Scheduling will be on the hour starting at 8 a.m. until 5 pm. He will assign a classroom to you.

We recognize you may have questions, so we encourage you to work with your dean and your chair.

Thank you for continuing to help us navigate these difficult circumstances.

March 19, 2020 - Remote Teaching and Learning through Spring 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff in Academic Affairs,


I want to start by expressing my deep gratitude for all you are doing to help all of us at Sonoma State navigate this extremely difficult – and frankly frightening – public health crisis.

COVID-19 is unprecedented in modern times. I know all of you are doing the very best you can to stay healthy, protect public health, and respond to an extremely dynamic situation. By this time, almost all of us are under shelter-in-place orders. Thank you for observing those orders and protecting our community.

I know that the shelter-in-place orders introduce an extremely stressful situation for everyone, and most particularly for people with children and other caregiving responsibilities. I know, too, that those in high-risk groups are living with real uncertainty and anxiety. Please know that faculty and staff who feel they need to take leave or seek an accommodation can contact the appropriate person (Renee Senander in Human Resources or Sally Russo in Faculty Affairs) as per our usual procedures.

Also, please see our Academic Affairs COVID-19 Site for more information, including a new Resources for Parents page.

The Faculty Center continues to provide workshops and support to help faculty transition to remote teaching and learning on March 24. As you saw from the President’s message, we now have planned for the entire semester to be delivered remotely.

Having a shelter-in-place order means that we are required by law to limit our movement around the county. Protecting the health and safety of our campus community must be our first priority.

We are recommending that faculty teach off-site asynchronously to enable more flexibility both for faculty and students. This also functions to limit people’s movement during this severe public health crisis. In asynchronous courses, faculty convey course materials and give assignments with a deadline and students are able to complete their work in their own time rather than at scheduled class times.

Deans will contact all faculty in their schools to delineate processes for returning to campus to pick up teaching materials on March 23-25 (Monday-Wednesday). A limited number of technology-assisted classrooms will be available for those who absolutely need classroom access to film lectures or conduct other activities. Given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that SSU will be required to severely limit access to buildings in the coming weeks. This is another reason that we strongly encourage faculty to engage in remote teaching off-site to the extent possible. Most of all, this will protect you and your family as COVID-19 continues to spread through the community. Instructions about how to proceed will follow soon from the deans.

We have a whole team of people working 24/7 to support this major shift in approach to education this semester. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Academic Programs, Faculty Affairs, Deans, Chairs, the Faculty Center, and faculty leadership with questions or concerns. And please feel free to reach out directly to me as we continue to find our way through this very difficult time.

I am deeply grateful to all of you for the compassion you bring to your work and to our students. I am proud to work with all of you at Sonoma State as I do believe we put empathy and integrity first, especially in challenging times.

With warm wishes and deep gratitude,


Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

March 16, 2020 - Academic Resources for Remote Teaching and Learning

Dear Faculty and Staff in Academic Affairs,

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone on our staff and faculty for continuing to help us maintain academic continuity under these difficult circumstances. 

Please know that everything we are stating right now might change later today or tomorrow. These are indeed challenging times for our university, our community, our nation, and our world. Thank you for helping Sonoma State be as good as we can possibly be throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

As promised, please find a list of resources and advice compiled with the collaboration and input of many people both on campus and off to help us transition to remote instruction in the smoothest manner possible.



Academic Affairs has created a Faculty Resources Guide that provides general guidance to faculty related to instruction. This document will change regularly as the situation changes and as we field additional questions. If you have thoughts about how we can improve the document, please email, and we will be happy to receive your feedback.



The Faculty Center remains open to serve our faculty with any/all requests to help as faculty transition to remote instruction for at least the next few weeks. We are on standby to assist with: 1) Canvas LMS (assignments, communication, grading, and exams), 2) Zoom (for holding live class meetings), and 3) Yuja (for recording video and distributing on Canvas).  We have a wealth of resources on our Teaching Through Disruptions guide for assistance with teaching remotely.  Think about how you will communicate with students, how you will collect and distribute assignments, and how you will inform students about grades. Canvas makes a lot of this very easy and simple. 

We are taking active measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the faculty we serve.

Faculty seeking assistance should first call 707-664-2659 or email (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday) to see how we can help with your request. If you want to come to the Faculty Center in person, please call ahead and make an appointment first rather than just coming in, so we can assure appropriate social distancing.

Faculty may also check out our online Zoom Meeting Room, which will be staffed beginning Monday morning during regular hours. Canvas phone support is available 24/7 at 1-833-263-0708.

Effective immediately, workshops will be done primarily online using Zoom. These have their own Workshop Zoom Meeting Room. For the time being, we will continue to offer in-person options for those who prefer it, but to ensure appropriate social distancing, we are capping workshop participation at five (5) in-person participants. You must RSVP to attend if interested.

Finally, we have a group of SSU faculty peer consultants that has offered to help you with addressing pedagogical concerns or getting up and running with Canvas, Zoom, or other common SSU teaching tools. Take a look at the list, find a colleague in your school, and send them an email to arrange a consultation over the phone or online. 



Keeping in touch with students is vital right now. Please continue to let students know about changes in deadlines, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety and save you from dealing with individual questions. Keep these principles in mind (borrowed from CSU San Marcos):

●      Communicate early and often: Let students know about syllabus and assignment changes as early as possible, even if all the details aren't in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information. Don't swamp them with email, but consider matching the frequency of your messages with that of changes in class activities and/or updates to the broader crisis at hand (For example, if remote teaching is extended, what will students need to know related to your course?).

●      Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email and how quickly they can expect your response.

●      Manage your communications load: send messages to all students in a course at the same time. If you have suggestions for messages that should go out to all students in the major, contact your department chair. If you have suggestions for messages that should go out to all undergraduates or graduate students, contact

This teaching environment is unprecedented, so cut yourself some slack and breathe. Here are some further thoughts on how to focus your teaching (adapted from Queen’s College):

●      This is not online learning -- this is triage. You won't replicate what you do in person in a remote or virtual mode overnight. Teaching online well takes time and training, so think small and triage. Can you communicate with students? Share resources? Communicate grades?

●      Talk to the Faculty Center and the peer experts available to you now. Don’t wait.

●      Prioritize: what do students really need to know? You absolutely can’t do it all (and shouldn’t try).

●      Take account of access issues: students may not have a computer or access to sufficient bandwidth at home. Many will only be working via a phone.

●      Be prepared to relax expectations, reduce course work, and lighten the load during this crisis.

●      Use campus-provided tools. These are things we can help you with. Vendors want to make quick sales right now. The Canvas LMS is sufficient to do nearly anything you might need, and students already know how to use it. Don't try to train students by yourself.



In addition to the Faculty Center, you can reach out to your department chairs, associate deans, and deans with specific questions about teaching remotely, about student issues, and about your needs during this unprecedented situation. They stand ready to assist and will be available on campus and remotely. Similarly, faculty leaders in the Academic Senate have made themselves available for support and assistance, so please do not hesitate to reach out.

Academic Programs and Faculty Affairs are fully staffed and available both on campus and remotely for questions about curriculum and instruction, faculty workload, RTP questions, policy issues, enrollment issues, and general support for faculty and students.

With sincere thanks,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

March 16, 2020 - Message from the Provost Regarding Faculty and Staff Over 65 years of age

Dear Faculty and Academic Affairs Staff,

As we make our way through the evolving COVID-19 health crisis, we are committed to communicating with the division to share what we know as of this time.

Please keep in mind that this global health situation is truly unprecedented, so the recommendations we are making are based on the best-known information at the time of the communication. Things are changing quickly, so we will communicate as frequently as needed to ensure we are maintaining open lines of communication.

As we shift to remote instruction in this unprecedented situation, please know how much we appreciate each and every one of you.

Please know that the message sent out to employees by HR yesterday (March 15, 2020) stated that ALL employees age 65 and over would be placed on administrative leave as appropriate effective immediately. The message should have stated that the leave requirement does not apply to faculty 65 and over because: (1) this week is spring break, so faculty technically are not on duty; and (2) all faculty already are transitioning to remote instruction. The only exception to this is faculty on 12-month contracts (of which SSU has very few).

Faculty who are 65 and over are required, as per the Chancellor’s Office mandate in accordance with Governor Newsom’s declaration, to stay away from campus. If you need help procuring teaching materials or other items from your office or elsewhere on campus, please contact your chair and dean so they can assist in finding a way to get necessary items to you. Please note that the Faculty Center is making workshops available via Zoom so everyone has access regardless of where they are.

Clearly, the COVID-19 global health crisis continues to evolve. For the most up-to-date information regarding Sonoma State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our SSU coronavirus FAQ page.

Please know that there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Sonoma State University. Sonoma State continues to respond to the coronavirus threat with the goal of keeping our campus community safe while allowing our students to continue their education.

In keeping with the recommendations of public health officials, we are conducting business in ways that provide for appropriate social distancing. These efforts include teaching classes remotely, canceling large events, and providing virtual resources. To date, we have determined it is safe to keep the campus open. As you can see from changing mandates from the federal, state, and CSU system levels, we will continue to adapt to this shifting environment as required and needed.

As per prior announcements about instruction:

●       All face-to-face classes will remain suspended on Monday, March 23 to facilitate the transition to remote instruction.

●       All classes, both undergraduate and graduate, will be conducted remotely beginning Tuesday, March 24 through Sunday, April 19.   The campus will make a decision by Wednesday, April 8 about the rest of the semester.

●       Labs will be conducted remotely or by alternate means.

●       Internships, practica, clinicals, and field work will be conducted remotely, if possible, with very limited exceptions to be approved only by deans.

I will send out a separate message soon with recommendations and resources aimed at helping everyone in Academic Affairs continue to adapt in this time of uncertainty. We have dozens of people working hard to help us protect the health and safety of our community while also ensuring academic continuity.

I am grateful to our collaborative approach to working together and being the best we can be as an educational community.

With sincere gratitude for all you are doing to keep yourself healthy and to serve our students in this challenging time,


Lisa Vollendorf, Provost

March 11, 2020 - Message for Faculty Regarding COVID-19

Dear SSU Faculty,

As you saw in President Sakaki's message today, we are suspending face-to-face classes for tomorrow, Thursday, March 12, Friday, March 13, and Monday, March 23. If you teach a face-to-face class and were planning online activities (such as a quiz), those activities need to be suspended because all face-to-face classes are suspended.

This will give faculty who do not teach online currently the chance to prepare to teach classes remotely should the need arise.

We have many resources posted on our Faculty Center  website and also many workshops running to help faculty adopt to this new situation.

All online classes remain in session during this time. 

If you have any questions whatsoever, please consult with your chair, dean, the Faculty Center, Academic Programs, Faculty Affairs, or faculty leadership.

We are all here to support you during this unprecedented public health crisis.

Should the university have to make the decision to suspend face-to-face instruction for a longer period, we will notify you as soon as possible. 

Finally, I want to thank you for all you do to support our students and deliver high-quality, impactful instruction at SSU. I am proud to work with each and every one of you.


With sincere thanks,

Lisa Vollendorf, Provost