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In first Fall Address, President Wood commits to student success, wellness, safety

New Sacramento State President Luke Wood delivered his first Fall Address Aug. 24 in the University Union Ballroom, speaking about campus safety, a commitment to equity, and answering questions submitted by the campus community. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

New Sacramento State President Luke Wood promised during his first campuswide address to “turn plans into action” by implementing programs to improve campus safety, ensure student success, and boost research, among other priorities.

Speaking to a packed house in the University Union Ballroom on Aug. 24, Wood said during his Fall Address that he “would not want to be president at any other place” than Sac State, where he received two degrees, served in student government, and met his future wife, Idara Essien-Wood.

“I’ve worked my entire life to reach this moment,” he said. “I came home to finish what we started 20 years ago as student leaders, and to give back to the community that has given so much to me.”

In addition to formally introducing himself to the campus community, Wood outlined his vision and priorities for Sac State.

"We have to have a plan, intentional strategies to give every student an opportunity to succeed.” -- President Luke Wood

His overarching commitment, he said, is to promote student success, particularly among members of groups that have been held back by inequities built into the educational system. He said everyone on campus, from custodians to faculty members to administrators, must take accountability for helping all students succeed.

“All of us have the privilege of being educators,” Wood said.

He cited athletics and research as two areas in which participating students can learn leadership, gain confidence, and improve their overall development. To that end, he announced the University will release $1 million worth of “research design time” for faculty members working on projects that involve students.

Wood also stressed the importance of safety and well-being to students’ success.

Recalling his college days, during which he said he struggled with food and housing insecurity, Wood said the University must “ensure that every student knows where they are going to lay their head at night, and where they will get their next meal.”

Wood said he would prioritize improving campus security, including forming a task force on safety, installing more digital monitors in key locations, and increasing the number of community service officers and mental health counselors at the University.

One of the first items on his agenda is simply to listen. Beginning on Aug. 25, Wood will begin a series of conversations with students, faculty and staff, alumni, and community members about “where we want to be five years from now, and what are the tangible steps we must take to get there,” he said. He calls the project “100 Days of Listening.”

“We have to have hope for a better future, because the institution belongs to all of us,” Wood said. “But hope and listening is not enough. We have to have a plan, intentional strategies to give every student an opportunity to succeed.”

Following his speech, Wood answered questions submitted by members of the campus community. Sitting on stage with his wife, who posed the questions, Wood was alternately serious and lighthearted as he spoke about subjects including his early days in a small Northern California town, his three children, his sneaker collection, and his path to Sac State.

Asked what has been his favorite part about returning to the University as president, he answered “the warm welcome” that he has received.

“Sac State is my home, the place where I spent the formative years of my life,” Wood said. “Sac State invested in me, and now I have the privilege and honor to invest back in it.”

President Luke Wood and his wife Idara Essien answer questions on stage.
Luke Wood, Sacramento State's new president, right, answered questions from the campus community, posed to him by his wife Idara Essien-Wood, left, following his first Fall Address on Aug. 24 in the University Union Ballroom. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)


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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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