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Sac State Magazine

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Sac State has done so much — and is just getting started

Sacramento State Swarm photo. (Sacramento State file/Jessica Vernone)

Eight years ago, when I began shouting "Stingers Up!," people told me that I was crazy, literally crazy. At Safeway a couple of weeks ago, I saw two people who obviously didn't know each other, both wearing Sac State sweatshirts, give each other a "Stingers Up!" as they pushed their carts down the aisle.

From the beginning, I believed in what I call the "Miracle on J Street," as it was already a miracle long before Jody and I arrived. People just didn't know it or didn't take the time to acknowledge it.

This year, Sacramento State is celebrating its 75th Anniversary – 75 years of transforming lives, including the 9,435 students who graduated last year. We expect to graduate more than 9,000 students again this year.

A lot has changed since 1947. The campus is not just a few buildings on what were hop fields. We have a new Science Complex, with a state-of-the-art Planetarium. We expanded The WELL and the University Union. We have a significant donation to build a new Engineering building. We have a brand-new APIDA Center, and we will soon open our Native American Center, the 'Esak'tima Center. Our MLK Center has nearly doubled in size.

We also doubled the size of our Dreamer's Resource Center and the Serna Center during the pandemic. We continue to support our LGBTQ+ students through our PRIDE Center, while our Women's Resource Center is thriving in its new spot on the second floor of the University Union. And, a spring groundbreaking is scheduled for a new Art Sculpture Lab.

We raised a record $239 million in our first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, which allowed us to double the number of scholarships for our students. A total of 8,205 alumni, 4,305 community members, 913 faculty and staff, 692 parents, and 181 foundations all gave because they believe in the Miracle on J Street – they believe that Sac State is "On the Rise."

We have seen two additional miracles in these last couple of years. How about that football team? Three-time Big Sky Champions, an undefeated regular season. Then there's our women's basketball team, which went from winning only three games two years ago, to this season winning the Big Sky Conference tournament championship and becoming the first Sac State team to play in the Women's NCAA Tournament. The Nest gym is rocking.

One thing hasn't changed over the past 75 years: We have never lost sight of our mission to serve our students. We also are getting better at delivering, as our four-year graduation rates have risen 212% since 2016. That improvement has helped save students who graduated in four years more than $440 million – yes, over $440 million! – in potential debt.

As I reflect on all that Sac State has accomplished, I know that we are just getting started. The miracle is alive, well, and prospering, largely because of people like you, our faculty and staff, and our students, everyone who believes and cares.

Though my wife, Jody, and I are headed back to Texas upon my retirement in July, we are Hornets for life. Now and then, if you listen carefully, you may hear me continuing to shout all the way from the Rio Grande, "Sac State is No. 1! Stingers Up!"

Let's all keep the miracle of Sac State in our hearts.

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About Robert S. Nelsen, President

Dr. Robert S. Nelsen has been Sacramento State’s president since 2015. Under his leadership, the University’s role as a regional force and important partner for the community has grown, with Sac State proudly embracing its standing as Sacramento’s capital university.

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