Today, July 1, is a day full of change, promise, and challenge. July 1 is the beginning of a new year at Sonoma State, and we will soon welcome a new set of students and faculty. With values and priorities set by our President, Judy Sakaki, and by our community-built Strategic Plan, we plan for the future. Our task is not to merely survive--to survive the pandemic, to survive racism, oppression, and brutality, to survive enrollment challenges, budget crisis, and economic recession, to survive change in higher education the likes of which we have never seen.
Our task is to make something better, to be better, using the best of what Sonoma State has to offer. Our task is to be creative, to be flexible, to learn, and to unlearn. I challenge us to unlearn the habits of mind that lead to failing to do the right thing--whether that is not wearing a mask in public, not using a strengths approach to supporting students, not acknowledging and correcting for white privilege, and not standing up to ignorance.
I further challenge us to continue the work of delivering a high-quality, rigorous, deeply engaged, genuinely inclusive, and profoundly personalized education to our students. That is our identity at Sonoma State, and we need to own it, say it, and make it real. We do nothing more important than help our students, our campus community, and our region meet new challenges. We are an institution committed to making a better world, and to do that we must review, rethink, remake, and reframe. Let us begin that task today.
I want to publicly acknowledge the incredible work of our faculty in meeting the challenge of emergency remote education in the spring and helping our students successfully complete their semester in a time of fear and uncertainty and in a way that challenged everything we believed about how education should happen.
This summer, as we plan for a largely virtual fall semester, over 250 faculty have signed up for the Institute offered by the Center for Teaching and Educational Technology (formerly the Faculty Center) and have enthusiastically worked while not on contract to build their fall courses online. Many have foregone research agendas, time with family, and rest from a difficult academic year. Many have been educating their own children at home while educating our students at Sonoma State. Many have struggled for a long, long time with racism and injustice, and that oppression has been heightened by recent killings of Black people and by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on LatinX and other underrepresented groups of people. It is a testament to the commitment faculty have to their students and to this University, and I thank them for this profoundly meaningful work.
Thanks go to Justin Lipp and the staff, faculty, and peer facilitators in CTET for managing a complete remaking of faculty development practically overnight. We plan to tell some of the stories of faculty and the CTET over the next few weeks in celebration of their accomplishments.
My thanks also go to our incredibly hard-working staff in Academic Affairs, in Student Affairs, and throughout the University, who are managing change in their work and at the university with grace, enthusiasm, and a willingness to take on new tasks. Today, we are pre-enrolling, orienting, and registering our new students and preparing them for a new kind of college experience. The staff and faculty in Advising Central, in CAASE, in the Library, in Seawolf Services, in Financial Aid, and in LARC, to name just a few examples, are building new support systems that engage, inspire, and help our students to pursue their dreams, even when we cannot be face-to-face.
In Academic Affairs, our work will be supported by some new leaders:·
- Dr. Laura Alamillo, Dean of the School of Education
- Dr. Troi Carleton, Dean of the School of Social Sciences
- David Chun, AVP, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
- Dr. J.F. Coget, Dean of the School of Business and Economics
- Sean Johnson, University Registrar
- Dr. Elisabeth Wade, Dean of the School of Science and Technology
Please welcome them as they begin their work at Sonoma State and support their efforts to lead through the challenges and opportunities ahead.
In addition, many people have stepped up to take on new challenges in Academic Affairs. As I move into the Interim Provost role today, I leave Academic Programs in the capable hands of Dr. Stacey Bosick, Interim AVP for Academic Programs, and Dr. Jennifer Lillig, Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Dr. Carmen Works will now serve as Director of University Studies and LIBS-Ukiah, Dr. Derek Girman will continue his work as Director of Graduate Studies, and Drs. Karen Thompson and Melinda Milligan will manage our accreditation and assessment processes during this next year, as we head into a Special Visit by the Western State Colleges and Universities Commission (WASC).
I wish you all some rest this summer--please take care of yourselves. We are committed to communicating regularly and to collaborating intensively while we work together to build and shape our University community.
With warmest regards,