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PRESIDENT'S ADDRESSES Spring 2016 Fall 2015


From the Desk of the President


It is important that we come together as a campus to talk about these issues and address these terrible events

July 14, 2016 - Last week’s alarming and senseless deaths in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas have weighed heavily on our hearts. Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa should not have been killed. They were fathers, sons, brothers, and friends to many people. As a longtime resident of Dallas, I was heartbroken and horrified to learn of the loss of so many lives. As an American, I am devastated to see that Black lives are still being treated as less precious and valuable than other lives in this country.

It is important that we come together as a campus to talk about these issues and address these terrible events. On Monday, July 18 at 11:30 a.m. in the WELL Terrace Suite, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the PRIDE Center, the Centers for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will host “Healing and Unification: A Dialogue of Support Regarding Recent Community Concerns.”

I encourage everyone to join us for this important conversation so that we can be leaders of change as we confront prejudice, hatred, and the dehumanization of Black lives in this country. We must come together as a Hornet Family not only to provide support, but also to love and protect one another.


We must embrace and unite to support each other but, more importantly, to prevent the killing

June 13, 2016 - At Sacramento State, in California, in Florida, and in our world, there is no room for hate. The horrific tragedy in Orlando should never have happened. Innocent people lost their lives. Our nation is deeply wounded. Families and friends are suffering. Hearts are irrevocably broken. We have seen these tragedies all too frequently – in Paris and Brussels, and here in California in San Bernardino.

We must embrace and unite to support each other but, more importantly, to prevent the killing. Universities exist to create a better world. Sacramento State’s mission is “... to transform lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success.” Let all of us – faculty, staff, students, and friends – be leaders in making this world, Sacramento, and our University a safe environment for all. Let’s use our classrooms, our lecture halls, and our offices to foster positive dialogue that will help all religions, ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual orientations understand one another. We need to be leaders in creating a safer world. We have to believe that we can prevent what happened in Orlando from happening again. We also must believe and work to ensure that what happened in the horrific sexual assault at Stanford can be prevented, even stopped. We have to stop hate crimes, and we have to stop terroristic violence.

As we mourn with those who lost so much in Orlando, I am asking that we reach out as a Hornet Family to those in Florida, to all victims, to all who need us. People are in hospitals in Orlando fighting for their lives – let our souls be with them.

Obviously, the horror that we have witnessed in these recent days is hard to process, let alone understand. Sacramento State’s counseling services are there to help. Please call (916) 278-6461 if you need to speak to someone. And please, if you ever experience anything on campus that makes you feel unwelcome or unsafe, contact faculty, staff, or the campus police immediately.

During the next few days and throughout the coming year, we will be looking for ways for the Hornet Family to come together and truly create a better world. Let us all join together to stop the violence.


I am honored to award Payam Hojjat the President’s Medal, and I know that he will continue to make us proud as a member of the Sac State alumni

May 17, 2016 - As President, I have the honor of selecting one of the recipients of the Dean’s Award to receive the President’s Medal. The Dean’s Award honors one outstanding student from each college who exemplifies academic excellence, community involvement, and engagement within his or her college and on campus. Many of these students have overcome incredible odds and heartbreaking experiences to earn their degree. I was honored to meet and hear the stories of Dean’s Awardees Stephanie Gin (Arts and Letters), Payam Hojjat (Business Administration), Nicole Hunter (Education), Christopher Potts (Engineering and Computer Science), Melissa Bardo (Natural Sciences and Mathematics), Jennifer Herring (Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies), and Maricela Cortes (Health and Human Services). Each exemplifies what it means to be a Hornet, and we could not be more proud of them.

Out of these extraordinary students, I selected Payam Hojjat from the College of Business Administration to receive the President’s Medal. Payam was proclaimed a genius at the age of 8 and was set on the fast track to move through the educational system. At age 10, he began having seizures due to abnormal brain activity, and in the next few months, he experienced 72 grand mal seizures. He did not know his own name, and millions of his brain cells died with each seizure. It is a miracle that Payam survived.

Payam clearly has a natural talent and intellect, but it is his effort and determination to relearn and retrain his brain that makes his story incredible. He spent years in the hospital, but managed to complete high school in just two years. It takes him two to three times longer than other students to complete his schoolwork and understand the concepts he learns in class, but that did not stop him. Through his own force of will and with the help of his faculty and the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities, he has persevered through constant frustration and endless hours of extra studying time to graduate.

Although he has earned a high GPA and will graduate with honors, his achievements are not limited to academics. Payam served as President of the Management Information Systems Association and was one of the founders of the Sufi Psychology Association. He also gives back to the community as a soccer referee for youth programs. Payam will graduate Saturday with his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems. After graduation, he plans to earn both his master’s degree and doctorate, and he hopes to return to Sac State and teach in order to give back to the students here in the way that his teachers gave to him.

Sac State is filled with thousands of stories of courageous students who are determined to get an education despite true hardship and incredible challenges. I am honored to award Payam Hojjat the President’s Medal, and I know that he will continue to make us proud as a member of the Sac State alumni.


We are the capital's university and, with this new building, we are delivering on the promise to offer programs and courses near the State Capitol and City Hall

May 17, 2016 - Today we made a historic move into downtown Sacramento with the purchase of a three-story building at 304 S St. As part of our effort to strengthen our role as California’s capital university, the space will house Sacramento State’s planned School of Public Affairs.

The purchase is about more than just brick and mortar. Expanding the University into downtown will allow more students to get the classes they need to graduate on time and to succeed in their careers.

University Enterprises Inc. (UEI), a nonprofit auxiliary of Sacramento State, bought the structure a few blocks southwest of the State Capitol for approximately $5.4 million. No state funds were used in the purchase. The 30,610-square-foot building, constructed in 1990, comes with 75 parking spaces.

The establishment of a downtown School of Public Affairs is exciting for both Sac State and the city of Sacramento. The dream of a downtown campus was born during the presidency of Don Gerth, developed during the tenure of former President Alexander Gonzalez, and is now a reality.

The city, the mayor, our public policy alumni group, and the citizens of Sacramento have been asking for Sac State to establish a presence downtown, and we are now #MakingItHappenAtSacState. We are the capital’s university and, with this new building, we are delivering on the promise to offer programs and courses near the State Capitol and City Hall.

The School of Public Affairs would be home to several signature government-related programs, including the Center for Collaborative Policy, the Institute for Social Research (ISR), and the Capital Fellows Programs, along with the master’s-level courses in urban land development, and public policy and administration.

Classes could be held at the new campus as early as this fall. The semester begins Aug. 29. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school will be held later this year.

Political leaders are praising our move into the downtown area:

  • Mayor Kevin Johnson: “To be a great city, you must have a great downtown, and you can’t have a great downtown without a university presence. We couldn’t be more pleased by President Nelsen's plan to establish a Sacramento State campus in our downtown, creating an economic boon for our region and our workforce. This campus will bring a new energy, vibrancy, and spirit, and will add to the incredible momentum we’re experiencing."
  • Congresswoman Doris Matsui: “Today’s announcement further solidifies Sacramento State’s role as a leading academic, cultural, and policymaking institution in our region. Having the School of Public Affairs downtown will place students, faculty, and staff at the intersection of the exciting growth and activity happening in our state’s capital. I know that the collaboration, learning, and innovation that will take place in the School of Public Affairs will leave its mark on our growing downtown community.”
  • Assembly member Kevin McCarty: “A downtown Sacramento State campus is great news for Sacramento. The ability for working professionals to be close to their campus, and for the downtown core to host our local state university is a win-win. I know this firsthand as a graduate of Sacramento State’s master’s program and as a public policy professional.”

Until now, the University’s downtown presence was largely limited to the Center for Collaborative Policy.

Potentially joining the center, ISR, and Capital Fellows Programs at the new school are: the Project for an Informed Electorate (PIE), the Sacramento Semester Program, and the Government Department Internship Program. The Center for California Studies, which administers the Capital Fellows Programs, will remain on the University’s main campus.

Also expected to have a presence at the new school are the College of Continuing Education, the Master’s of Business Administration for Executives program, the Center for Small Business, and the Education Insights Center. Some undergraduate government classes related to California politics also may move downtown.

“I view the School of Public Affairs project as Sac State’s pathway to living into its mission to truly be the capital university,” says Örn Bodvarsson, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies (SSIS).

UEI provides programs and services that enrich the Sacramento State experience and support the University community’s evolving needs. In addition to property services, such as the Julia Morgan House Event and Conference Center, UEI oversees research grants and contracts, the California Intern Network, the Hornet Bookstore, the Upper Eastside Lofts, and campus food services.

This is an exciting step for our University and for the City of Sacramento.


The Hornet family must come together now more than ever to build a strong Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion so that we can become an even stronger university

April 28, 2016 - I am excited to announce that Dr. Robin Carter has accepted the role of Interim Executive Director of Diversity. She will begin work on July 1 with the Diversity Task Force to create the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Dr. Carter is “Made at Sac State,” earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work here. She also earned a master’s degree and doctorate in public administration from the University of Southern California. She began her career in social services before transitioning to academia.

For the past five years, Dr. Carter has served the College of Health and Human Services as the Associate Dean. She spent nine and a half years as the Department Chair for the Division of Social Work and has been a professor here since 1989. She has researched and published extensively on diversity issues within the field of social work. Dr. Carter brings both the administrative experience necessary to establish the office and the passion and empathy required to make the office impactful here at Sacramento State.

While I have complete faith and trust in Dr. Carter’s ability to establish a robust and effective Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, she cannot do it alone. The Hornet family must come together now more than ever to build a strong Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion so that we can become an even stronger university. I look forward to working with Dr. Carter and each of you to make Sac State stronger.


Our hope is that our campus can use this difficult moment to move the conversation to a much more beneficial level, for our campus and for Africa

April 19, 2016 - This weekend at Sacramento State, the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR) is hosting the 25th annual Africa/Diaspora Conference. This conference has provided 25 years of service to aid and assist the people of Africa. The work of the center and of the attendees at the conference is important not only to our University, but to the world.

This year’s theme is “Peace & Conflict Resolution in Africa, 25 Years Later: Lessons, Best Practices, and Opportunities.” The keynote speaker for the evening awards dinner will be Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was selected as a keynote speaker because of his successful and peaceful transition of power to the new democratic leadership. His willingness to step down peacefully upon his defeat in the election is a rare move in the region and an important example of the goals of CAPCR.

Dr. Jonathan’s visit to our campus has received both support and opposition. Even though the purpose of his talk is to discuss peaceful transitions of power and democratic reform, his visit will be difficult and even painful for many members of our community, including myself. While Dr. Jonathan is certainly a worthy example of peaceful transitions of power, his presidency also included the signing of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in 2014. This law established the penalty of imprisonment for gay marriages, relationships, or membership in any gay societies or organizations. Additionally, those with knowledge of LGBTQIA individuals may be imprisoned. This law is still in effect today. Personally, I find the legislation that was passed in Nigeria to be more than abhorrent – it is a travesty against humankind that must be rectified. I hope that Sacramento State can in some way be, at the very least, a catalyst for that change.

I believe strongly in respect, compromise, mediation, and tolerance – all core values not only of Sacramento State, but also of CAPCR. And as I have stated in my previous messages to campus, I am firmly committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment for all of our students. The intentions behind and the consequences of the legislation passed in Nigeria do not align with our mission or our vision here at Sac State, and Dr. Jonathan’s presence on our campus should in no way indicate that we, as a Hornet Family, condone what is happening in Nigeria because of the passage of these laws.

We have received many messages of concern from both the campus and the Sacramento community regarding his visit, and I understand that his legacy is a painful one that is still imprisoning people today. His visit will be problematic for many members and allies of the LGBTQIA community, and it is extremely problematic for me. It is difficult for me to understand how someone can stand for peace when it does not include the inherent human rights of safety and security in religion, partner, sex, race, ethnicity, creed, and gender. But after hearing from people across campus, the community, and CAPCR, we have concluded that Dr. Jonathan’s visit can provide us with the opportunity to raise awareness and bring attention to the need for human rights and awareness of LGBTQIA issues in Africa.

Dr. Jonathan’s Chief of Staff has agreed to meet with representatives from the campus and the community to specifically discuss U.S. and African relations regarding LGBTQIA issues. After his keynote address on Saturday night, Dr. Jonathan has also agreed to answer questions from the audience, including questions about Nigeria’s LGBTQIA legislation. I do want to note that Dr. Jonathan is not receiving an award at the event; he is only speaking. Because the event is a banquet, the event is not free. CAPCR has agreed to pay for concerned students who have expressed a desire to attend.

We are at yet another teachable moment at Sacramento State. On each and every campus in America, difficult conversations such as the one that is happening now should take place. I don't think that any of us yet knows what the lesson plan for this teachable moment should or will be. We must develop the plan together, and we must do so now. With the leadership of the soon-to-be-announced Executive Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, we will be convening student, faculty, staff, and community leaders to find ways to create a richer and deeper dialogue about human rights and freedom of choice for all people.

Universities must be a space where free speech is actively encouraged. I ask that we treat Dr. Jonathan and all others at the conference with respect. My hope is that our campus can use this difficult moment to move the conversation to a much more beneficial level, for our campus and for Africa. I believe that we will be able to do so because the 2017 CAPCR conference theme of “Power, Peace, and Vulnerability” will include a focus on LGBTQIA rights in Africa. Let us start the momentum this year, so that next year’s conference will be more impactful than ever.

While we may not agree with or support Dr. Jonathan’s decisions as President, I hope that we turn this situation into an opportunity to show Dr. Jonathan what peace means to us, to our Hornet Family. As a Hornet Family, let’s come together to support each other and share our vision for a truly democratic world where we all have the right to love whom we freely choose to love.


We remain committed to maintaining an inclusive and safe environment

March 11, 2016 - Earlier this week, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol vehicle was seen on campus. I want to assure students, staff, and faculty that there are no immigration enforcement activities occurring on our campus regarding undocumented students.

Sacramento State has a long history of partnerships with local, state, and federal government agencies. These partnerships allow for student internships, research, and career opportunities in a wide range of public service fields. We have confirmed that the aforementioned vehicle was here as part of a physical fitness test for potential federal employees. It was not here in association with any operations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Sac State's diversity and inclusivity are its strengths. We learn from one another, and an important part of that learning comes from our differing backgrounds and life experiences. I understand that this sighting was an alarming experience for many. While our campus is a public space, safety is always our utmost priority. I can assure you that this vehicle does not and did not pose a threat to the campus or your safety. We remain committed to maintaining an inclusive and safe environment.


Mr. Paravagna’s guidance will help ensure that the University remains in compliance with federal/state disability civil rights laws

March 4, 2016 - We are pleased to announce that Michael Paravagna has been retained to facilitate the University’s Americans with Disabilities Act self-evaluation as mandated by the Act and California state law. Mr. Paravagna has twice been appointed by Governor Brown to serve on the California Commission on Disability Access. He also is a Sacramento State alumnus. Mr. Paravagna’s guidance will help ensure that the University remains in compliance with federal/state disability civil rights laws.

Mr. Paravagna will assist the University in assessing its current programs, services, and activities to ensure that they are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. It is incumbent on the University to correct any policy or practice that adversely affects the full participation of individuals with disabilities in its programs, activities, and services.

Your cooperation and support of this effort are much appreciated. Departments will be expected to complete a survey questionnaire and meet with Mr. Paravagna as appropriate. Policies identified as necessary to this process must be provided to the consultant. Additionally, if you are identified as part of the faculty and staff having information concerning prior measures taken by the University to address disability civil rights, it may be necessary for Mr. Paravagna to meet with you regarding your institutional knowledge.

Public comment sessions are tentatively set for Fall 2016. Mr. Paravagna’s full report will be available to the public and will include a work plan that will be utilized to implement any changes necessary to reach our end goal of barrier-free access to persons with disabilities.

Thank you for your support of this important project. I am certain that no one within our University community would ever rest easy if we were knowingly operating out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


I look forward to working with each of you to make our campus an inclusive place for all of our students, faculty, and staff

March 1, 2016 - After receiving feedback from individuals across campus and from members of the Diversity Task Force, I have decided to reopen the application period for the Interim Executive Director of Diversity and provide some clarification on the role.

The position is a one-year appointment that will require someone with strong leadership skills who can establish an Office of Diversity and work with the Diversity Task Force to transition ideas into the structure and function of the office. While the individual who accepts this interim role may apply for the permanent position of Executive Director of Diversity, we will be conducting a national search to hire someone for the permanent position. Furthermore, the title of the office or the position may change depending on the recommendations of the Interim Executive Director in consultation with the Diversity Task Force.

Although we wish to start the Interim Executive Director of Diversity as soon as possible, for the right candidate, I am willing to work to transition someone who has an appointment or teaching commitment that lasts through the end of this semester. The person who fills this interim role will have a full-time 12-month appointment and will not be able to make any outside commitments (such as teaching) during the period in which they serve as the Interim Executive Director of Diversity.

We already have a strong pool of candidates, and if you sent your CV/resume previously, you do not need to resubmit your materials. I am not reopening the application period based on a lack of qualified applicants, but on an expressed need to provide additional details for those who did not apply due to a lack of information.

If you are interested in this position and are currently employed at Sacramento State, please send your CV/resume in an email to pres-02@csus.edu by 5 p.m. Friday, March 18. Thank you for your support of this initiative, and I look forward to working with each of you to make our campus an inclusive place for all of our students, faculty, and staff.

I want to assure you that if a strike occurs, our campus, and all of the CSU’s campuses, will remain open

Feb. 19, 2016 - As you are no doubt aware, the California Faculty Association (CFA) recently announced plans for a potential strike at all 23 California State University (CSU) campuses April 13-15 and April 18-19, 2016. CSU representatives have not been able to reach a salary agreement with the CFA through the collective bargaining process. While we remain committed to the process and hopeful about its outcome, our campus leadership team and many others throughout the University have been planning for the possibility of a strike. I want to provide you with some important information.

I want to assure you that if a strike occurs, our campus, and all of the CSU’s campuses, will remain open. While some classes may be canceled, many classes will be held. Students are advised to check with their instructors about their individual class schedules, and if your class is scheduled, you should attend. We anticipate all campus operations and administrative services will be available and scheduled events will be held. A partial calendar of campus events, updated regularly, can be found on the University’s home page. The campus will remain open to students, staff, and the public. Our University Police personnel will be serving the campus to ensure a safe environment for all, which is always one of our primary goals.

The strike should not interfere with students being able to complete their courses and graduate on time. Faculty who strike will generally arrange for assigned reading or other work if their classes are canceled.

If a strike does occur, it is important to note the following:
– No individual, including students, can be compelled to take either the CSU administration’s position or the CFA’s position;
– Classroom time cannot and should not be used by faculty to discuss issues related to the strike;
– Students cannot be compelled to walk out of class, walk picket lines, stay away from campus, or support the strike as part of a class assignment or in exchange for a grade;
– Striking faculty may not block or otherwise obstruct student access to campus, campus services, or the classroom.

I also want you to be aware that should a strike occur, media may be on campus and may ask people to comment. I encourage you to direct any media inquiries to our Public Affairs staff at (916) 278-6156.

I again emphasize that in the event of a strike, we plan to maintain full campus operations with minimal disruption to students, faculty, staff, and guests. We respect our faculty’s rights and remain committed to the collective bargaining process. I encourage you to review this Q&A document.

As information becomes available, we will keep you updated via the University’s home page. Updates also will be shared through Sacramento State’s Twitter and Facebook.

Understanding America's past and how that past can shed light on our current climate and culture can help spread tolerance and compassion

Feb. 17, 2016 - Please join Congresswoman Doris Matsui and me, along with members of the Japanese American, the Muslim American, and the Sacramento State communities on the 74th anniversary of the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, resulting in the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in camps.

Friday, February 19, 2016
Harper Alumni Center

4:00-5:00 p.m. Reception
5:00-5:45 p.m. Opening Remarks and Keynote Address
5:45-6:00 p.m. Break
6:00-7:00 p.m. Panel Session
7:00-8:00 p.m. Dessert and Conversation

Keynote speaker:
Congresswoman Doris Matsui. Congresswoman Matsui was born at the Poston Internment Camp during World War II. After growing up on a farm in California's Central Valley, she met her husband, the late Congressman Bob Matsui, while attending the University of California at Berkeley. She replaced her husband in Congress in 2005 and is in her sixth term as Sacramento's congresswoman.

Panelists:
Marielle Tsukamoto, internment survivor, educator, and activist
Basim Elkarra, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sacramento Valley
Alham Abdul-Rahman, Sacramento State graduate student in the English Department

As part of this important discussion, I encourage you to visit our internationally recognized Japanese American Archival Collection, curated at the University Library. The collection documents the WWII removal and evacuation of Japanese Americans from their communities, the living conditions of the internees in the camps, the military service by men of Japanese descent, and the reinstatement of internees in mainstream society. The collection also tells the story of Japanese American settlement in the region – mainly Florin, California – beginning circa 1880. It reflects not only the tremendously successful efforts of Japanese Americans in establishing farming and business enterprises, but also the powerful integration of Japanese traditions into American culture in the face of legalized and societal exclusion and intolerance.

Understanding America's past and how that past can shed light on our current climate and culture can help spread tolerance and compassion, thereby helping us grow stronger as a community and as a Hornet family. I hope to see you there.

What I have learned in these few months is that this University, its people, our faculty and staff, care about our students

Feb. 12, 2016 - In my Spring Address, I announced two initiatives: 1) a renewed focus on graduating our students in four years (“Finish in Four”), and 2) the hiring of an interim Executive Director of Diversity who will oversee the creation of a Diversity Office and a permanent Diversity Council. These two initiatives dovetail with the three important values enunciated in our 2014-2020 Strategic Plan: Student Success; Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity; and Diversity and Inclusion. We are committed to funding these two initiatives as top priorities in the coming year.

We are, however, facing a tight budget for 2016-17. The governor’s budget falls $100 million short of what the CSU system requested, and given that we have to pay retirement costs for those employees hired after 2013-14, and the majority of enrollment growth funding is earmarked to Academic Affairs and associated benefit costs, we expect a relatively flat budget. As you will remember and as I pointed out in my Fall Address, we allocated all available funds for 2015-16 and did not budget to add anything to our baseline reserves. And while we do have $19 million in one-time reserves, that $19 million is specifically committed to the new science building. With the $19 million in reserves and the $71 million that we were awarded from the CSU system, we will still need to raise additional funds to build and finance a state-of-the-art science building with a planetarium.

Without the cushion of reserves, we must look closely at each division’s – indeed, at each department’s – budget. We cannot assume that a department’s budget is justified merely because the department received that funding last year or the year before. Moreover, we cannot base our budget on simple formulas calculated by full-time equivalent students. Instead, I am asking that every budget for every department be justified by showing how the expenditures will help our students graduate with a great education in a more timely fashion and how the expenditures will help make the University more inclusive of everyone at the University and in the community.

Specifically, while safety will remain paramount in budget decisions, I am asking that every budget request be tied to the strategies identified in Goal 1 (“Enhance Student Learning and Success”) and Goal 2 (“Foster Innovative Teaching, Scholarship, and Research”). Of course, requests can be strengthened by aligning the appeals to the strategies that are associated with the other four goals in the Strategic Plan, but primary emphasis must be on helping our students graduate without the debt that every year of college past four years causes.

To provide additional input, I am asking that the Faculty Senate, the University Staff Assembly, and Associated Students Inc. (especially in its role as student government) forward their priorities to help the University Budget Advisory Committee, the President’s Cabinet, and me make decisions about the 2016-17 budget.

Our overall budget process will change this year. Instead of individual divisions presenting their budget requests to the University Budget Advisory Committee, all requests will be initially previewed by the President’s Cabinet and a designated member of the Faculty Senate, the University Staff Assembly, and Associated Students Inc. We are also asking that all Deans present their budget requests for their respective colleges. Doing so will ensure that each division knows what the other divisions are recommending to help our students – in particular, what initiatives are being proposed so that the divisions, colleges, and departments can coordinate and collaborate – before they make formal presentations to the University Budget Advisory Committee. Once the budget of each division is finalized and approved, we will publish the budget to ensure transparency and collaboration.

Because we are expecting a flat budget and because we are emphasizing student success, I am also asking that every budget presentation include a section on what initiatives/efforts/funding the departments will be redirecting so that they can prioritize initiatives and efforts that will help our students graduate with a great education much more quickly and with less debt. We must redirect our resources to what we know has been and will be successful. Every budget presentation must present data showing that what they are proposing will be successful and must show a shift of resources to those initiatives that will help our students.

In shifting the resources to more productive initiatives, we must not forget our employees. To the contrary, we must use the assets of our exceptionally talented family to maximize their contributions, to boost morale, and to retain the superb faculty and employees who do so much for Sacramento State.

What I have learned in these few months is that this University, its people, our faculty and staff, care about our students. The task at hand is to make sure that our efforts are fully focused on our students and that we are using our precious and limited resources to help them graduate with a premier education that can’t be rivaled by any other institution.

Stingers up!


Proposed Timeline:
Week of Feb. 8: Budget presentation templates sent to Division Heads and Deans
Feb. 19: UBAC meets
Week of Feb. 29: Budget Call sent out by UBAC
Month of March: Budget presentations to Cabinet, Faculty Senate, USA, and ASI
Week of April 4: Budget spreadsheets due to UBAC
Weeks of April 4 and 11: Budget presentations to UBAC
Weeks of April 18 and 25: Budget deliberations by UBAC
Week of May 2: UBAC Budget recommendations due to President’s Cabinet
May: President’s Cabinet finalizes budget

We have started the search for a new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Sacramento State

Feb. 8, 2016 - As announced in my Spring Address, we have started the search for a new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Sacramento State. Dr. Zachary Smith of Witt/Kieffer will serve as our lead consultant. I am pleased to announce the membership of the search committee:

Chevelle Newsome, Search Committee Chair, Dean, Graduate Studies
Sylvester “Jim” Bowie, Chair, Faculty Senate
Benjamin Fell, Chair, Civil Engineering
Annette Reed, Director of Native American Studies
Stacy Hayano, Interim Chief Financial Officer
Elvia Ramirez, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies
Christine Miller, Professor, Communication Studies
Jai Lee, Associate Professor, College of Business Administration
Ernest Uwazie, Professor, Criminal Justice
Linda Roberts, Professor, Chemistry
Kevin Murphy, Engineering Manager, Office of Water Programs
Tucker Caruso, ASI Vice President of Academic Affairs

I would like to personally thank each member for his or her time and commitment to serve in this very important role. The timeline is aggressive. The committee will review applications and conduct interviews over the next several months with a goal of bringing recommended finalists to campus in early May. I trust that the committee will ensure its work is timely and judicious.

Dr. Smith is accepting nominations and suggestions at sacstateprovost@wittkieffer.com. In addition, you may send comments directly to Dr. Newsome at cnewsome@csus.edu.

I look forward to working with each of you to make our campus a better place for our students, faculty, and staff

Feb. 4, 2016 - As announced in my Spring Address, we will be establishing an Office of Diversity and an Interim Executive Director of Diversity. This individual will serve for one year and will report to the Office of the President, with dotted reporting lines to the Offices of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Human Resources. The Interim Executive Director of Diversity will be charged with proposing the structure and delineating the functions of the office, based upon the recommendation of the Diversity Task Force and discussions with faculty, staff, and students.

If you are interested in this position and are currently employed at Sacramento State, please send your CV/resume in an email to pres-02@csus.edu by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. Thank you for your support of this initiative, and I look forward to working with each of you to make our campus a better place for our students, faculty, and staff.

We are a Hornet family, and ... we must treat each other with care and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging

Jan. 27, 2016 - With the beginning of the semester underway, I was planning to send out a message of welcome and joy to encourage our students, staff, and faculty this spring. Sadly, my plans changed when my office was notified of written hate speech toward our Muslim community on campus. I was heartbroken and angered to learn that this happened on our campus. We are a Hornet family, and we will not stand for this kind of treatment of our family members.

We are investigating the incident and reviewing video footage of the area. We will not tolerate hateful and racist behavior on this campus, and we will pursue sanctions against those who are identified. We have a choice in how we treat each other, and every person on this campus deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As I have stated before, I believe in the value of free speech and the opportunity to disagree with each other, but in our disagreement, we must treat each other with care and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging.

I am proud of those who came forward to report this hateful act, and I encourage you to please do the same if you ever see, hear, or experience anything that makes you feel unsafe. We must take care of each other, and the only way to ensure that happens is by letting the faculty, staff, and administration know of these incidents as soon as they happen. You can directly contact William “Skip” Bishop, Director of Equal Opportunity, at william.bishop@csus.edu; or Beth Lesen, Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Support, at beth.lesen@csus.edu. We cannot stop something of which we are unaware.

We have an incredibly diverse campus, and that diversity makes us strong and enriches the experiences of everyone here at Sac State. As a Hornet family, we are carefully investing in initiatives that are aimed at creating an inclusive campus environment that is safe and equitable for all of our students, staff, and faculty. As mentioned in my Spring Address, you will see many events in the coming months that celebrate diversity and inclusion on this campus, as well as stimulate the dialogue that is necessary for us to learn about each other and grow together.

On Feb. 19, in coordination with The Japanese American Archival Collection, the University will hold a symposium that will not only explore the internment experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II, but also will connect those actions to the current experiences of Muslims in the United States. On Feb. 25, President Obama’s sister, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, will be on campus to give a lecture on “Leadership and Conflict Resolution.” On March 9, the History Department will host a lecture by Roxanne Dubar-Ortiz, who is the author of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center will be sponsoring many events throughout February and March in celebration of Black History Month. Those events are available in detail at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center website.

Sacramento State has many other events planned this spring, and I encourage you to watch for upcoming announcements. I hope that you will join me in attending as many of these events and lectures as you are able so that we may promote a more inclusive campus and community.

Let us come together as a Hornet family. Let us move forward to embrace care and respect, and to reject hate.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Jim Dragna to Sacramento State

Jim Dragna photo

Jan. 20, 2016 - I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. James “Jim” Dragna as Executive Director of University Initiatives and Student Success, effective Jan. 27, 2016.

Dr. Dragna brings over 25 years of experience in higher education administration and management. His professional career includes demonstrated progressive responsibilities in Student Affairs and Services at North Dakota State University, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the University of South Florida.

Most recently, Dr. Dragna served as Director of Student Success at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he gained international experience in overseeing student services professionals dedicated to furthering successful learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. Over a three-year period, Dr. Dragna initiated and innovated programs and processes that contributed to significant increases in student retention and progression-to-graduate rates while improving the measured quality of the student experience. His work included the fostering of high school transitional programs, integrated curricular and co-curricular content development, and residential/nonresidential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. He guided the use of analytics in identifying and promoting targeted success variables.

In addition to his Student Affairs administrative background, Dr. Dragna has taught undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students in psychology and psychodynamic theory. He has practiced as a licensed professional counselor in North Dakota and North Carolina, and is currently a licensed psychologist in Minnesota. His area of professional interest centers on the integration of adolescent and young adult affective and cognitive development.

Dr. Dragna holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and graduate degrees in Counseling Education from the University of Colorado. Jim Dragna is known for his collaborative working style with students, families, faculty, staff, and community members in combining vision with informed decision-making while advancing success for individual students and diverse student groups. He brings to Sacramento State both enthusiasm and demonstrated skill in promoting a student culture of personal, academic, and career success.  

Dr. Dragna journeys to Sacramento with his wife, Janine, who also has extensive experience in higher education administration. Janine and Jim are the parents of three adult children, J.D., Danielle, and Peter, who are currently pursuing their educational and professional goals in the United States.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Jim Dragna to Sacramento State.

I am pleased to announce that Provost Frederika 'Fraka' Harmsen has accepted a position as Special Assistant to the President for Sustainability

Jan. 4, 2016 - I am pleased to announce that Provost Frederika “Fraka” Harmsen has accepted a position as Special Assistant to the President for Sustainability here at Sacramento State. Provost Harmsen joined the University in February 2014 from California State University, Chico, where she was Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and a Professor of Geology. Prior to her role at CSU, Chico, she spent 26 years at California State University, Fresno, working her way up from Professor to Department Chair and finally to Associate Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

With over 30 years of experience in the California State University system, Provost Harmsen brought with her both knowledge of the CSU system and demonstrated leadership experience. She arrived on our campus during a key transitional period with several academic administrator vacancies, as well as tenure and promotion processes in progress. She successfully hired several deans and academic leaders, strengthening the leadership team in Academic Affairs. She positively addressed many of the equity and salary issues, and facilitated the increase in tenure-track hiring.

During her tenure as Provost, she tackled many critical issues on campus with excitement and passion. Highlights of her work include investment in high-impact practices to improve student success; an initiative to globalize the campus, including the establishment of the Office of International Programs and Global Engagement; and the cultivation of external relationships in the Sacramento community. She has been a true force in driving University research initiatives for faculty and students by promoting collaboration through interdisciplinary centers such as the newly created Institute for the WEST (Water, Energy, Sustainability, and Technology). In short, she has provided excellent academic leadership during her tenure as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Her dedication and intelligence have raised Sacramento State’s stature in the region and the state.

Her transition to the President’s Office will take effect today, Jan. 4, 2016. Our Vice President for Administration and Business Affairs, Dr. Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee, has agreed to step in as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective immediately. Administration and Business Affairs will be in the capable hands of Stacy Hayano, who will serve as Interim Chief Financial Officer, and Ali Izadian, who will serve as Interim Vice President for Administration. A search committee is being constituted for a search for a new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

I look forward to working with Fraka in her new role as we all work to build a stronger and better Sac State for our students.

This is an exciting day for our students and faculty

Dec. 23, 2015 - I am pleased to announce that Sacramento State has received permission from the CSU Chancellor’s Office to use all of the space in Folsom Hall for academic and classroom purposes. Previously, California Northstate University leased the third floor of the building, but that lease has ended, and Sac State will now have full use of the building. This is an exciting day for our students and faculty.

We are all Hornets, and together we can and will be stronger yet because of our Hornet family

Dec. 7, 2015 - Our hearts go out to the families in San Bernardino who have lost loved ones and to all those who were injured. Together as a Hornet family, we mourn for those individuals affected by this tragedy and the many tragedies that continue to occur here in the United States and throughout the world.

There is no doubt that it is extremely difficult to process the many acts of senseless violence that have been occurring in our world. We often feel grief-stricken, confused, and even angry when confronted with media images and reportage of such terrible violence, pain, and loss. Now more than ever, we must come together to support one another.

As we approach finals week, news of these international and domestic tragedies confronts us when our campus community is already experiencing the stress that comes with nearing the end of a semester. Emotions are heightened, and many people are stretched thin. I ask that we all take time to consider how we give voice to our emotional responses – let us commit to being gentle, kind, inclusive, and patient with one another. We are all Hornets, and together we can and will be stronger yet because of the diversity of our Hornet family.

If you or anyone you know is struggling to make sense of these recent tragedies, remember that help is available. Counseling is available for students at The WELL (916-278-6461), and drop-in urgent care is available. Faculty and staff may access the Employee Assistance Program, which offers 24/7 assistance by calling (800) 367-7474. If you are unsure what to do for a student, the Red Folder on the desktop of University computers is a good resource for faculty and staff. Everyone may always contact the Office of Student Affairs (916-278-6060) for support and guidance.

Wishing everyone the best on finals and a peaceful holiday season.

This achievement is monumental for our campus, providing classrooms and laboratory space for programs and departments that are in desperate need

Nov. 19, 2015 - I am proud to announce that Sacramento State has received approval to begin construction on our state-of-the-art Science II building. We are thankful that the California State University Board of Trustees approved this momentous project at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

This achievement is monumental for our campus, providing classrooms and laboratory space for programs and departments that are in desperate need. The addition of Science II will enable us to relocate many of our current laboratories on campus. The space formerly used by those labs will be converted into much-needed classroom space for our students.

Construction will begin in spring 2017, and the building will be located in what is currently a parking lot next to the Hornet Bookstore. What an exciting day for our students and faculty. For more information, please view the University's press release.

I hope that you agree with me that the University is taking steps in the right direction to further embrace our diversity and to make the University an even better place to work and to study

Nov. 12, 2015 - As a follow-up to my Oct. 5 email to campus, I am pleased to announce that, after thoughtful discussion at the latest meeting of the President's Cabinet, the Cabinet approved additional funding for the Multi-Cultural, Women's Resource, and PRIDE Centers, at $10,000 each. Along with this well-deserved increase in financial support, we approved the hiring of two coordinators, so that each center will now have its own full-time leader. I am very impressed with the efforts at the centers, and I am convinced that this added support will increase the valuable programming that these centers provide, as well as strengthen our student body as we strive to become a national model for inclusive dialogue.

Furthermore, with the Cabinet's approval, I have asked Human Resources to draft a job description for an ombudsperson for the University. Before making a final decision on the precise duties of the ombudsperson, we will need to have a larger conversation with the Faculty Senate, University Staff Assembly, Associated Students Inc., Diversity Task Force, and others about the role of this position and the functions this individual would manage (as well as those functions this person would not manage).

I hope that you agree with me that the University is taking steps in the right direction to further embrace our diversity and to make the University an even better place to work and to study. Some changes may take more time and energy to implement than others, but, working together, we can make a difference and can build an even stronger Hornet family. I look forward to seeing you around campus.

We have important work to do as we increase freshman and transfer graduation rates, decrease the time to degree, provide the classes that our students need, and close the achievement gaps.

Oct. 8, 2015 - As announced during my Fall Address, I am pleased to share the details of the 2015-16 General Operating Fund Budget. In the coming weeks, we also will be announcing a budget forum that I encourage you to attend. I would particularly like to express my appreciation for the work of the University Budget Advisory Committee (UBAC) and the Office of Budget Planning and Administration in preparing this year's budget.

Permanent Baseline Budget

The State of California's 2015-16 budget provides the entire California State University system with additional permanent baseline funding of $225 million. There is an expectation that much of the funding will be used to increase California resident student enrollment. For Sacramento State, our targeted enrollment growth is 2 percent (460 FTES). Our total state appropriation and student fee revenue sources for 2015-16 combine to create an overall $286,592,137 budget. This budget includes $2.6 million in funding for the 2 percent enrollment growth and $968,000 for student success and completion initiatives.

In order to achieve a balanced budget, our projected uses of funds (i.e., projected expenditures) for 2015-16 purposefully match our projected sources of funds – the aforementioned $286,592,137. As I said in my Fall Address, there is no margin for error.

After reviewing UBAC's recommendations, in addition to approving divisional allocations of $2,917,559, I also have approved adopting UBAC's proposed two-tiered (1.9 percent and 1.5 percent) divisional increases. Hence, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs will receive 1.9 percent increases to their budgets. It is important to note that Academic Affairs also will receive $1.36 million in permanent baseline funding for instruction (e.g., hiring faculty) associated with enrollment growth. The remaining divisions will receive 1.5 percent augmentations. I added supplemental funding to two divisions (Athletics and University Advancement) for new, needed personnel. To help meet NCAA reporting requirements, Athletics is receiving funding for two Business Office positions, and to protect the safety of our student athletes, we also are adding a trainer to Athletics' budget. We are gearing up for the University's first Comprehensive Campaign, so gift officers have been added to Advancement's budget to ramp up the campaign and to supplement the colleges' fundraising efforts. Another $1.56 million has been allocated to help address our Student Success and Completion Initiatives.

Given the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 goals for the University and given our priority to increase our retention rates and graduation rates, and to decrease our students' time to degree, we will be hiring someone to evaluate, oversee, coordinate, and improve our student success initiatives. For me personally, it is important that we measure and demonstrate success at every step of the way. It is also important that we work strategically and that we effectively and efficiently use these funds to ensure the success of our faculty and students.

As for the All University Expenses (AUE), I agree with UBAC's recommendations. In addition to normal cost increases, the Neulion Ticketing System cost was moved back into the AUE category. This system serves a variety of University entities (e.g., Athletics, Theatre Arts, Music, etc.), and the expenses can be erratic from year to year.

A summary of the University's final budget for the 2015-16 General Operating Fund is available here.

One-Time Budgets

The two areas where I have made changes to UBAC's recommendations are for the Short-Term Strategic (one-time) Funds and One-Time Project Funds. For the Short-Term Strategic Funds, I have decided to fund the new positions in University Advancement and Athletics mentioned above via permanent baseline funds; hence, those costs were removed from the list. I also added $100,000 in one-time funding for operating costs associated with the Comprehensive Campaign – we will not be able to raise money without appropriately investing in the campaign. A summary of the Short-Term Strategic (one-time) Funds is available here.

With regard to the One-Time Project Funds, of the $31,601,833 in requests, I have approved $16,554,700 in total projects. Funded projects are identified here. Upon reviewing the initial recommendations and after discussing those recommendations in Cabinet and with key leaders, we believed that it was important to focus on projects critical to the University's mission and to funding some very serious deferred maintenance items such as hazardous waste abatement and water exposure problems. We also added items that directly affect the safety of our faculty, staff, and students, such as work on trip hazards and fire walls. We were able to reduce the funding for some items such as elevator replacements and repairs by finding funding in existing divisional budgets, and I did not fund the renovation and furnishing of a downtown School of Public Policy because space for the school has not yet been found. Finally, because we already are funding enrollment growth with the additional baseline funding of $1.3 million as described above and because, in principle, enrollment growth should not be funded by one-time funding, I reduced the request from Academic Affairs from $4,389,632.95 to $1,000,000. This $1,000,000 is to be used to hire instructors to fill sections of needed courses, especially so-called bottleneck courses.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that a budget is a moral document. I concur. We are allocating more than $1,000,000 in this year's budget for equity raises, and, obviously, we are being aggressive with enhancing safety, and even more so with supporting student success and completion initiatives. In the fall, we will be reinstituting an annual budget presentation during which we will roll out the budget in more detail. At the end of the fiscal year, we also will be instituting an annual financial review, where we will discuss how the actual budget was spent.

We have important work to do as we increase freshman and transfer graduation rates, decrease the time to degree, provide the classes that our students need, and close the achievement gaps. I look forward to working with all of you.

As California's Capital University, we can show the nation how an excellent education can be provided in an inclusive, nurturing, respectful environment by understanding and learning from all cultures.

Oct. 5, 2015 - I have spoken with many faculty, staff, students, and community members about the Sept. 4, 2015, classroom exchange between Professor Maury Wiseman and Ms. Chiitaanibah Johnson. I also have read various descriptions and analyses of the incident. Using the Sacramento State guidelines set forth in "Academic Freedom and Responsibility," "Statement on Faculty Responsibilities and Professional Ethics," "Policy on Faculty Responsibilities and Professional Ethics," "Faculty Responsibilities to Students in the Instructional Environment," "Dealing with Incidents of Disruptive Student Behavior in the Classroom," and "Student Conduct Code," I have concluded that neither Professor Wiseman nor Ms. Johnson violated any University policy. We are, therefore, closing the inquiry into the incident.

While people may agree or disagree with the decision, we can all agree that change must happen. We cannot and should not stop the conversations that the incident has provoked. To the contrary, we as a university must learn from this incident and the discussions surrounding it. My most sincere hope is that our university can become a national model of inclusive dialogue regarding issues such as genocide and its lasting effects. I am very impressed that the History Department is reaching out to Native American tribal leaders, and I was equally impressed by the panel discussion last Thursday regarding "Native Americans/American Indians: Myths and Misconceptions." The questions raised by the panelists and members of the audience were thoughtful, direct, and honest. I was particularly pleased to hear that Ethnic Studies is planning to offer a minor in Genocide and Holocaust Studies.

I understand the importance of academic freedom, but I also know that no one at the University wants any of our students to feel that they have not been heard. Thoughtful dialogue and sometimes-heated debate are at the heart of any university, but so is compassion. The discussions surrounding this incident provide us with the opportunity to improve what happens in our classrooms and in the lives of our Native American students – indeed, in the lives of all our students. We not only must be more inclusive and compassionate, but we also must be true to education's universal charge to expand knowledge and understanding. In that spirit, we must seize this opportunity to encourage respectful discussion of controversial topics in the classroom, even if these discussions may interrupt a planned lecture. We also must continue to have regularly scheduled forums similar to last Thursday's panel and the International Conference on Genocide (scheduled for November 2016) in order to increase public awareness and understanding.

We all know how critically important our faculty are to achieving our institution's mission to "transform lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success," and we depend upon the faculty to provide an excellent education to our students. As I have said in many venues, I am very impressed with our faculty and their dedication to our students. Not only are our faculty delivering critical information and encouraging dialogue inside the classroom, they also are offering guidance, advice, and personal instruction outside the classroom, often going beyond the call of duty. We must support our faculty and provide them with the tools and help to be successful inside and outside the classroom.

I am directing Academic Affairs to ensure that new faculty orientations include culturally sensitive instruction about the makeup of our student body. Additionally, I am asking that we initiate an orientation program for all part-time faculty that is culturally relevant, that details the traditions and resources available at Sacramento State, and that introduces the part-time faculty to our diverse student body. Both orientations should focus on effective classroom management that creates a respectful learning environment and encourages constructive discussion of important issues relevant to the classroom material and the students' lives. The instruction also will focus on how to engage students and encourage discussion and questions from students. And I am asking that the materials generated as a part of these enhanced orientations be made available to all faculty members.

Additionally, I am directing Student Affairs to enrich the discussion of student conduct and decorum in the classroom during student orientation sessions and in the various training sessions in which students participate. The goal of this discussion will be to increase students' abilities to engage in classroom discussions and hear not only the words of their professors but of their peers as well. I will be working with Student Affairs and my Cabinet to provide more funding for programming for the Multi-Cultural, Women's Resource, and PRIDE centers, and for hiring coordinators for all three centers.

Finally, I am asking Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to work with the Faculty Senate, Associated Students Inc., and the University Staff Assembly to constitute a committee to develop a Hornet Honor Code – an agreed-upon set of principles and guidelines that will encourage honesty, integrity, and mutual respect amongst students, faculty, staff, and administration. As part of their discussions, I also am asking the committee to make a recommendation for or against hiring a Student Ombudsperson, i.e., a student advocate, charged with ensuring the protection of students' rights and with helping to resolve student complaints.

Sacramento State has the seventh most diverse student body west of the Mississippi River. In diversity there is strength, I believe. We must build on that strength. As California's Capital University, we can show the nation how an excellent education can be provided in an inclusive, nurturing, respectful environment by understanding and learning from all cultures. Let's move forward and, hand in hand, make our great university even greater.

I encourage all of our students, faculty, and staff to attend and participate in this difficult but important conversation.

Sept. 29, 2015 - In my previous messages to you about creating a productive, nurturing, and academically stimulating campus environment, I announced an upcoming series of panel discussions and dialogues to continue a positive campus conversation. As a result of the meetings of last Friday – and with feedback from the Native American/American Indian community, students, faculty, and staff – the first panel and dialogue session will be focusing on the myths and misconceptions that impact Native Americans/American Indians on a daily basis.

The panel will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, in the University Union's Orchard Suite. The session will open with Native Americans/American Indians offering their personal testimony, to be followed by facilitated dialogue.

I encourage all of our students, faculty, and staff to attend and participate in this difficult but important conversation.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Cely Smart to Sacramento State.

Cely Smart photo

Sept. 28, 2015 - I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Cely Smart as Special Assistant to the Office of the President, effective today.

Before joining Sacramento State, Cely served as the Assistant Registrar over Official Publications in the Office of the Registrar at The University of Texas at Austin. She supervised a department of four who reviewed, edited, and published all curriculum changes to five university catalogs and degrees as well as an inventory of more than 10,000 courses. She managed the yearly assessment plan for the office and worked as part of the management team in the Registrar’s Office to design curriculum and curriculum-based policies.

After graduating from Texas Tech University with her B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, and her M.Ed. in Elementary Education in 2007, Cely moved to Corpus Christi to pursue a doctorate at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.

While pursuing her degree, she worked in the Mary and Jeff Bell Library and eventually joined the Provost’s Office in 2009 as Assistant to the Provost. In 2010, she graduated with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership – Higher Education.

As Assistant to the Provost, then Director of Academic Policy and Administration, she managed the revision of university policies and rules, curriculum changes for the university catalogs, faculty credentialing, and undergraduate program evaluation. She also worked with the campus accreditation team to complete the reaffirmation report for university accreditation.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Cely Smart to Sacramento State.

In the coming weeks, we will be holding a series of forums, conferences, town halls, and events on our campus, addressing the concerns I have outlined in my previous messages to campus.

Sept. 23, 2015 - We are quickly approaching Native American Day this Friday, Sept. 25. I am out of town and unable to be with you because my father has passed away. But I wanted to let everyone know that I received feedback last week from the President's Committee to Build Campus Unity, along with representatives of our Native American students, faculty, staff, and ASI, that the proposed campus-wide Friday discussion panels might detract from the Native American Day Celebration at the State Capitol taking place on the same day.

There was strong sentiment that we should reconsider the timing of the panels while retaining the goals of having continuous conversations about inclusion, academic freedom, respect, tolerance, and the value of and means for difficult discussions on campus and in society.

I have taken the feedback to heart, and therefore, we are changing our plans. Instead of the panels, we will be holding a breakfast celebration and blessing in honor of Native American Day in a concerted effort to show solidarity and support for our community partners who already had planned to attend the State Capitol celebration. The morning send-off will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. in the University Union Ballroom. Ms. Connie Reitmann-Solas, executive director of the Inter-Tribal Council of California, Inc., will serve as a guest speaker.

I encourage students, faculty, and staff to attend the breakfast, especially those students, faculty, and staff who will be traveling to the State Capitol celebration, which begins at 10 a.m.

For those unable to attend the festivities at the Capitol, we invite you to be part of a dialogue that will be facilitated in a Breaking of the Bread Ceremony at the Multicultural Center from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

In the coming weeks, we will be holding a series of forums, conferences, town halls, and events on our campus, addressing the concerns I have outlined in my previous messages to campus. We also are establishing a webpage to include all upcoming campus activities involving these efforts.

The first panel and dialogue is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 1 in the University Union's Orchard Suite. Another important event – a campus Healing and Renewal Ceremony, beginning with a Sunrise Gathering to which we are inviting the elders of the Native American/American Indian community – will be held Oct. 12. Further details will follow.

I encourage all of our students, faculty, and staff to partake in all these activities that I hope will help facilitate difficult but constructive conversations about controversial subjects without violating academic freedom or the welfare of our students.

Thank you for your support for strengthening our University by utilizing recent events as teachable moments.

I regret that, because of my father's passing, I will not be there on Friday. I will be speaking at my father's services. He was a great man, an inspiration, a true cowboy at heart. I am at peace knowing that he is no longer suffering.

Going forward, we want to make certain that our campus is a productive, nurturing, and academically stimulating environment for our students.

Sept. 15, 2015 - Our priority at Sacramento State must be our students. As many of you know or may have read, we had a confrontation between a student and a faculty member in one of our history classes at the start of the semester. The incident has prompted thoughtful dialogue and sometimes heated debate on the campus and in social media.

Dialogue and debate are at the heart of any university, but the welfare of Ms. Chiitaanibah Johnson and of all of our students is quintessential to Sacramento State's mission to "transform lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success." We must work together to ensure that our students succeed and that we have a campus where all individuals – staff, faculty, and students – feel at home. We must truly be a Hornet family. I, like everyone at the University, want to ensure that Ms. Johnson is able not only to move beyond this incident but also to thrive personally and academically.

Even though we are still in the midst of evaluating what happened in the classroom, I am writing today to give you an update.

Upon learning of the confrontation, we contacted Ms. Johnson. I met with her and her family. I also met with the professor involved and with his representatives. The Provost is currently conducting the investigation of the incident. As I indicated in my earlier message to the campus: Our university must be a place of mutual respect, with processes in place to ensure that the rights of students and faculty are protected, and that respect must reach into our classrooms.

Because this investigation is also an ongoing personnel matter and because of FERPA, I cannot discuss details of the findings at this point in time. But I can say we are following the guidelines in the following policies: "Academic Freedom and Responsibility," "Statement on Faculty Responsibilities and Professional Ethics," "Policy on Faculty Responsibilities and Professional Ethics," "Faculty Responsibilities to Students in the Instructional Environment," "Dealing with Incidents of Disruptive Student Behavior in the Classroom," and "Student Conduct Code."

Please allow me to reiterate that, in spite of statements made during the confrontation, Ms. Johnson was never expelled or disenrolled from the history course.

I want to assure all members of the Sacramento State community that we hear and respect Ms. Johnson's concerns – and the concerns of many throughout the country. We are also very cognizant that we must respect and uphold the principles of academic freedom that are the foundation of higher education in the United States. As such, we have an opportunity – indeed, a responsibility – to continue the conversation in an even broader, campus-wide arena.

To that end, we intend to devote our upcoming Native American Day celebration (Friday, September 25) to a focus on positive dialogue and raised awareness. We are planning three panel discussions: one on genocide; another on the day-to-day lives of Native Americans in California and the harmful myths that daily affect Native Americans; and finally a panel on how, in academia and on our campus, we can have difficult but constructive conversations about controversial subjects without violating academic freedom or the welfare of our students.

The conversation cannot end with these panels. We are also planning to have what some have called a "teach-in" on "Columbus Day." And we hope to extend an invitation to members of the Native American community to join us in all these conversations. We cannot afford to let this learning moment pass us by.

Going forward, we want to make certain that our campus is a productive, nurturing, and academically stimulating environment for our students. As I have said many times, we have important work to do. I have sincere faith in and respect for our faculty. Together, we will create the leaders of tomorrow.

We at the University believe in academic freedom, and we also believe in civility and rigorous academic research.

Sept. 7, 2015 - A university, our university, must be a place of mutual respect, a place that allows for frank discussion in the classroom. Sometimes, discussions can become difficult and even heated, but we must always strive to understand and respect each other. Upon being notified of an alleged incident of intolerance in one of our history courses last week, we have taken immediate action to investigate the situation.

You may have read or heard about this matter. We released the following statement to media outlets:

Sacramento State was very concerned upon learning about this incident and the allegations surrounding it. The University would like to make it clear that our student, Chiitaanibah Johnson, was not expelled or disenrolled from this history course. Under University policy, a professor cannot unilaterally disenroll a student from a class.

President Robert S. Nelsen is looking into what was alleged to have happened. "I take this matter very seriously. I intend to talk to Chiitaanibah Johnson as we work to gather all the information necessary to resolve this situation positively."

I write to you today to let you know that I have reached out to Ms. Johnson and that the original article has been updated:

UPDATE: Sac State and Native Student Seek 'Positive Resolution' on Native Genocide Class Disenrollment Issue

We at the University believe in academic freedom, and we also believe in civility and rigorous academic research. Our standards must be high, and we must follow the processes that we have put in place to ensure that the rights of students and faculty are protected. Most of all, we must remain true to our mission: “As California’s capital university, we transform lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success.”

We have important work to do. I ask for your patience and understanding.

Please enjoy the rest of the Labor Day weekend, and let’s come back energized to teach and learn together.

Anthony embodies Sacramento State’s mission to prepare students for leadership, success, and service. Those are qualities that he, along with his friends, exhibited on that train.

Aug. 28, 2015 - I am proud to announce that Sacramento State has established the Anthony Sadler Community Scholarship in response to community requests to support his continued studies at the University.

Anthony, a kinesiology major who begins his senior year next week, made international news Aug. 21 when he and two childhood friends, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and U.S. Air Force Airman Spencer Stone, thwarted an alleged terrorist attack on a train between Amsterdam and Paris.

Members of the Sacramento community approached us about supporting Anthony’s education. They are in awe of his selflessness and want to recognize his bravery.

Because the funds will go directly to Anthony, contributions to the scholarship are not considered philanthropic gifts to the University and are therefore not tax-deductible, in accordance with IRS regulations. The funds may be applied toward tuition, books, and other expenses.

Anthony embodies Sacramento State’s mission to prepare students for leadership, success, and service. Those are qualities that he, along with his friends, exhibited on that train. Their courageous acts potentially saved hundreds of lives.

Supporters of the Anthony Sadler Community Scholarship may contribute online at www.csus.edu/giving/sadler.html. Contributions also may be made by check, payable to The University Foundation at Sacramento State, and mailed to: The University Foundation at Sacramento State, c/o University Development, attn: Tracy Newman, 6000 J St., M/S 6030, Sacramento, CA 95819. Please include “Anthony Sadler Community Scholarship” in the memo line.

For additional questions about supporting the fund, please contact Tracy Newman, associate vice president of University Development, at (916) 278-6989.

By being very strategic and efficient, what we can do within the current budget year is provide the affected staff with a permanent raise on average of $1,800.

Aug. 6, 2015 - In the spirit of absolute transparency, I need to be honest – in the excitement and rush to have an equity plan within my first 30 days, when calculating the cost of the equity raises for staff with inverted salaries, we made a huge mistake and vastly underestimated the cost of the proposed plan. The real cost of raising eligible staff to their respective targeted 25th, 50th, and 75th quartiles is approximately $1,850,000. Under the constraints of this year's budget, we cannot possibly afford that amount. We would have to cut services drastically.

I apologize for the error. I am very sorry that the increases outlined in the original plan cannot be fully funded this year. We must live within our means, and we need to dedicate our resources to helping our students get a great education in the most appropriate time possible.

By being very strategic and efficient, what we can do within the current budget year is provide the affected staff with a permanent raise on average of $1,800. In other words, we still intend to give annual raises to those staff members identified in the original plan at Steps 1, 2, and 3 in order to begin to address the salary inversion that they are experiencing. Again, in the spirit of transparency, I need to note that some staff members may receive less than $1,800 if the difference between their current salary and the targeted quartile is less than $1,800. Additionally, because this staff equity program is a management-initiated in-range progression, some individuals will receive more than $1,800 so that we can fulfill the requirements of the collective bargaining agreements.

My hope is that over the next two years (2016-2017 and 2017-2018), if our budget remains constant, we will be able to replicate the same program and repeat these incremental increases of up to $1,800 annually for those who still are below their targeted quartiles.

Overall, we need to examine all potential compensation disparities across our campus. With these three years of staff equity raises, we will have solved many salary inversion issues. But there are other deserving staff members whose compensation will not be addressed through this initial program. These staff members, I am told, may also be experiencing the effects of salary compression and salary inversion. During the coming years, we will initiate compensation equity studies. We need to get it right in the long term.

Again, I sincerely apologize for raising expectations that we cannot meet. I hope that you will join with me as part of the Hornet family to move forward and to find the best solutions that we can.

Guidelines and more information regarding this management-initiated in-range progression and those staff members who are part of the salary inversion equity plan will be forthcoming from Human Resources.

Because I am well aware of how important the contributions of the staff are to meeting the needs of our students and faculty, it was a priority for me to establish a staff equity program within my first 30 days on campus.

Aug. 3, 2015 - I am very pleased to announce Sacramento State's 2015 equity program for staff employees. This program is designed to complement the recent general salary increases received by most staff.

Because I am well aware of how important the contributions of the staff are to meeting the needs of our students and faculty, it was a priority for me to establish a staff equity program within my first 30 days on campus. Without the commitment and hard work of the University's staff, we would never fulfill our mission to "transform lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success."

While there are not enough resources to resolve fully all staff equity issues at Sacramento State in one fell swoop, the 2015 equity program is intended to address salary inequities that developed over the past few years due to salary inversion. The goal is to address some of the most serious inequities first in a way that makes it relatively easy to implement so that there will be minimal delay. The plan will be effective July 31, 2015.

Plan Provisions *

Employees must have a minimum of five (5) years of service in their current classification and skill level (e.g., Administrative Support Coordinator I, Administrative Support Assistant I, or Custodian) to participate in the equity program. Each classification's salary range has been divided into four equal quartiles from the minimum to the maximum of the salary range. Employees in each classification have been placed into one of the four quartiles based on years of Sacramento State service in the specific classification that they currently hold. Employees with less than five years of service will not receive an equity increase under the program; employees with five to 10 years of service whose salary is currently below the 25th percentile of salaries for that classification will have their salaries adjusted upward to reach the 25th percentile; employees with 11 to 14 years of service whose salary is currently below the 50th percentile of salaries for that classification will have their salaries adjusted upward to reach the 50th percentile; and employees with 15 years or more of service in the classification at Sacramento State will have their salaries adjusted upward to the 75th percentile.

In Step 1 of the plan, employees with 15 years or more of service in the same classification at Sacramento State as of July 31, 2015, will receive a salary increase bringing them to the 75th percentile of the salary range for their classification. Employees with 15 years or more of service in the classification who are already at or exceeding the 75th percentile of the salary range will not receive an increase.

In Step 2 of the plan, employees with 11 to 14 years of service in the classification as of July 31, 2015, will receive a salary increase bringing them to the 50th percentile of the salary range for their classification. Employees with 11 to 14 years of service in the classification who are already at or exceeding the 50th percentile of the salary range will not receive an increase.

In Step 3 of the plan, employees with five to 10 years of service in the classification as of July 31, 2015, will receive a salary increase bringing them to the 25th percentile of the salary range for their classification. Employees with five to 10 years of service in the classification who are already at or exceeding the 25th percentile of the salary range will not receive an increase.

All three Steps will be implemented using management-initiated in-range progression protocols effective July 31. Questions about the program and its implementation should be directed to the Classification and Compensation unit in the Office of Human Resources: Extension 8-6078.

I sincerely appreciate everything you are doing to advance Sacramento State and to make the campus a great place to work.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the plan, go to this page.


* The UAPD (Unit 1) and CSUEU (Units 2, 5, 7 and 9) collective bargaining agreements require a minimum 3% increase for an In-Range Progression. Therefore, some employees may receive an increase beyond the percentage required to reach the quartile thresholds.

Please join me in welcoming Lisa Cardoza to Sacramento State.

Lisa Cordoza photo

July 23, 2015 - I am pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa Cardoza as the Chief of Staff in the President's Office, effective Aug. 3, 2015.

Most recently, Lisa has served concurrently as Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations at the newly established University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, as well as Chief of Staff and Governmental Relations Officer at The University of Texas-Pan American. Lisa had worked at The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) since 2004.

After graduating from Stanford University with a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Social Sciences of Education, Lisa joined UTPA as Associate Director of a newly established Valley Outreach Center, implementing the Mother Daughter Program, Go Centers, and Pre-College Academic Programs, all in support of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Closing the Gaps campaign with efforts to increase the college-going rate in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

In 2007, Lisa served as the Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services, and returned to lead the Outreach Department as Director of College Access and Support Programs/Senior TRIO Director in 2009.

In that position, she oversaw three federal TRIO programs (Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math & Science); two federal migrant programs (High School Equivalency Program, College Assistance Migrant Program); an institutional migrant program (Migrant Student Success Office); a state engineering pre-college program (Texas Pre-Freshman Engineering Program); and a college access outreach center (Valley Outreach Center).

In 2010, Lisa joined the UTPA Office of the President as the Chief of Staff. That same year, she was named to the Texas Women in Higher Education Board of Directors. In 2013, she was named as a director of the statewide leadership organization known as the Texas Lyceum, and was subsequently elected to serve on the Annual Nominating Committee.

Please join me in welcoming Lisa Cardoza to Sacramento State.

I look forward to working with each of you to transform the lives of our students and to make California's Capital University and the city itself even greater than they already are.

July 17, 2015 - The first two weeks at Sacramento State have been a whirlwind for Jody and me, but we both already feel that we are at the right place, at the right time, and at a home and with a family that we are already beginning to love. Sacramento State is truly a magnificent university.

We have been deeply moved by the warm welcome that we have received from the faculty, staff, and students on campus and from the community at large. On July 1, we started the day with 200 first-year students at Orientation. We initiated them into the Hornet Nation, and we posed for dozens of selfies. Those students are precisely why we wanted to be a part of Sacramento State more than any other university. The diversity was amazing, and the energy of those students and of the Orientation leaders was contagious. Hornet pride was everywhere.

I made a promise to the students, and I am making the same promise to you: As I said in the op-ed I wrote for The Sacramento Bee, we are going to dedicate ourselves to shortening their time to degree and to improving our graduation rates. I believe that our students can and will be successful because of the outstanding faculty and staff whom I have met.

Our campus is one of the most caring campuses that I have ever experienced, and we have strong support from our alumni and our many partners in the region, especially from our elected officials. As I have told so many at so many gatherings, Jody and I believe that what is happening here on our campus will determine the future of Sacramento, of California, and (if I may be so bold) of the nation.

I am grateful for the work done by Chancellor Tim White and the California State University Trustees, and for their devotion to our students. Their work as student advocates is paying dividends: Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a state budget that will bring our system an increase of $217 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Yes, for the first time in many years, California is fully funding the Trustees' budget request; and as a consequence, 12,000 more students will be able to enroll at California State University campuses, and we will have the resources to help guarantee their and our continuing students' success.

I am thrilled that we will have a better budget than we have had in a long time. We will be meeting next week in Long Beach to determine how the money will be allocated among the CSU campuses. No matter what is decided, the future is bright.

It is a privilege, an honor, and a blessing to be allowed to serve as the president of Sacramento State. I look forward to working with each of you to transform the lives of our students and to make California's Capital University and the city itself even greater than they already are.

Stingers Up!

Learn about Sac State’s future

Sacramento State is positioned for a bright future with the approval of its Campus Master Plan, which details the physical improvements to be made over the next 20 years; and the Strategic Plan, which shapes the University’s mission, vision, values, and strategic direction through 2020.