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Office of The President California State University, Sacramento

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Presidential Communications - Spring 2022

President Robert S. Nelsen’s messages to students, faculty, and staff.

Why it is important that Sac State must be a 'Healing University'

May 16, 2022 - The flags at Sacramento State are at half-staff, marking the deaths of more than 1 million Americans from COVID-19. On Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y., 10 Americans – eight of whom were Black, two white – were murdered by a white supremacist. Three other victims were wounded in the vicious, hate-infused crime. Yesterday, mass shootings at a Houston flea market and at an Orange County church resulted in the senseless deaths of three more people, with several others injured. Just last month, we saw senseless murders in our own downtown. COVID-19 has killed 90,000 Californians. This week, our Sac State police rescued a suicidal student from the Guy West Bridge. I have shared too many SacSend messages about tragedies such as the shootings at the El Paso, Texas, Wal-Mart; in Christchurch, New Zealand; and in massage parlors in Atlanta. I have addressed attacks on our Black, Muslim, Jewish, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, and LGBTQI+ communities.

We must continue to denounce hate, racism, and violence and act to end it. We are working to do so with our newly released Antiracism Action Plan with its 25 measurable goals and more than 200 action steps. We also are trying to protect our Hornet Family by urging all to be vaccinated and double boosted, to be tested (tests are still available in Library 11), and to wear masks.

Hate and COVID-19, however, are not going away; they will continue to come at us in different ways, doing serious harm.

In my Spring Address, I said that we must be a “Healing University.” I am more convinced than ever that the mission of universities is not just to preserve democracy but, rather, to heal this tattered world by (as we say in our mission statement) “transforming lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success.”

Writing another SacSend is a miniscule step in the transformation. Graduating 9,435 students during Commencement at the Golden 1 Center on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 20-22, is a monumental transformational step. These graduates will be the true healers of our nation. Education is the pathway to healing, through research and new drugs, direct engagement with our communities, entrepreneurial development, shared understanding, STEM and the arts and business, nursing, social work, and community policing – the list seems endless. Education opens and transforms hearts.

All of you, whether night custodian, research scientist, musician, information technology specialist, lab worker, professor, teaching assistant, coach, trainer, accountant, or community service officer – every employee and every volunteer at Sac State – have made this weekend’s graduation possible. You have all transformed lives, and the graduates will continue to transform lives and heal our nation.

It is incredibly sad to see the flags at half-staff, but I will be proud and grateful to watch so many students – 9,435, a magical number – walk across the Golden 1 stage. In the midst of so many tragedies, I want to thank you for being there for Sac State and our students, for opening hearts and transforming lives.

But let’s not forget the horror of what happened in Buffalo. Not even graduating students can make up for the tragic loss of lives. Today at 3 p.m., the time of Saturday’s shooting, let’s stop what we are doing and look toward those flags at half-staff and observe a minute of silence.

Later today, we will send an invitation to hold multiple days of virtual community space to begin healing so that we can support each other and find ways to process these and so many other horrendous events. Students who need additional support should visit Student Health and Counseling Services online, or call 916-278-6461. Sacramento State has counselors ready to support faculty and staff through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) online and at 800-367-7474. We know healing is a process, and we will continue to offer opportunities for our community to turn to one another and work to stop the virus of hate.

Call for participants: CSU Systemwide Juneteenth Symposium

May 11, 2022 - This the second year that Juneteenth, the annual June 19 celebration of slavery’s end in the United States, will be recognized as a U.S. federal holiday. It will be the inaugural year for the California State University’s Juneteenth Symposium, “By Any Means Necessary: Synthesizing the Voices of Our Ancestors and Everyday People.” This two-day symposium is a part of the systemwide initiative CSU ACTs: Acknowledges, Commits, and Transforms.

The symposium is designed to highlight African American history and achievement, foster authentic intercultural dialogue, advance sustainable antiracism efforts, and reinforce the CSU’s unwavering commitment to building inclusive and diverse campus communities that empower students to pursue lives of curiosity, prosperity, and self-fulfillment. Attendees will see a stellar lineup of scholars, including Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Shaun Harper, Dr. Tyrone Howard, Dr. Juanita Watts, Dr. J. Luke Wood, and Michele Goodwin.

Each CSU campus will send a Juneteenth delegation of 25 individuals to participate in the symposium to celebrate, commemorate, and curate activities that advance African American student access and success. Sacramento State will sponsor 13 students and 12 faculty and staff, across all divisions, to attend the symposium on Wednesday and Thursday, June 15-16, at the Hyatt Regency LAX.

We are looking for individuals who are interested in participating and committed and willing to:

  • Advance the Antiracism and Inclusive Action Plan.
  • Design and participate in a set of activities related to the abolition of slavery, antiracism, and inclusivity (date to be determined for Fall 2022).
  • Bring back information for our local Juneteenth symposium.
  • Represent Sacramento State and its equity-based initiatives.

If you want to be considered to attend this historic event, please complete this interest survey no later than May 16

Please stay safe and healthy as we approach Commencement

May 10, 2022 - I shouldn’t find it hard to believe that our first Commencement in three years is just 10 days away, but I do. Graduation is what we — the faculty, the staff, and the students, the entire Hornet Family — have been working toward for so many years. Dreams finally are coming true, in spite of the pandemic. I can’t wait to see everyone at the Golden 1 Center.

Before the May 20-22 Commencement, the campus will host many events and celebrations, and we still have finals to take. As you prepare for graduation and to ending the semester, I want to remind everyone that wearing a face covering is strongly recommended, especially indoors.

I am personally asking that all members of the Hornet Family take extra precautions to ensure that we can celebrate together next weekend. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and get tested. If you are attending a large event, for your personal safety and for the safety of our Hornet Community, wear a face covering. All of us, most of all our graduates, have been waiting for, and dreaming about, a real, in-person Commencement, and I am all too aware how devastating it would be for anyone to miss this life-changing event. Let’s all do what we can to make certain that we have a Commencement that no one will ever forget.

In the spirit of transparency, because I have been notified that I have been exposed to COVID-19, I have made the incredibly difficult decision that I will not be attending the special recognition celebrations that are taking place on campus over the coming days. Let me be clear, I do not have COVID-19, and I am testing daily to ensure the safety of all. It breaks my heart not to be at these ceremonies, but I would be even more heartbroken to miss Commencement at Golden 1 Center next weekend, where we will host seven ceremonies over three days. I do not want to let down the nearly 50,000 people planning to attend – our graduates, their families, and their friends. And I deeply want to thank the hundreds of volunteers who will make the celebration happen. Let’s all stay safe and take the necessary precautions to have a safe and healthy Commencement.

Again, please take all necessary steps to protect yourselves and each other if you attend large events. Free N-95 masks are available at several campus locations, and Commencement volunteers and guests will be provided with face coverings. Students who may have been exposed or have COVID-19 symptoms should contact their health care provider or the Student Health and Counseling Center for information about how to obtain a test. They can consult the COVID-19 FAQ for students for answers to questions about how to report a positive test result or to find out what to do in case of a close exposure. Employees with questions about COVID-19 are encouraged to visit the HR-Related COVID-19 Resources page. Employees can access free, take-home COVID-19 test kits by registering for a pickup date and time.

Thank you for continuing to take care of one another. I can’t wait to see all of our graduates as they walk across the stage at Golden 1 Center next weekend. Until then, let’s protect the Nest. Stingers Up!

Join us for the Out of the Darkness walk

April 7, 2022 - The past two years have dramatically highlighted the continued need for conversation about and support for mental health and suicide prevention. We are in the middle of a public health crisis that has grown in severity over the past several years because of the pandemic as well as other local and national events.

Did you know that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, claiming 1,100 lives each year? Connecting to the campus and to the campus community helps to support a sense of belonging that can greatly reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation, and suicidal ideation and can improve mental health and well-being.

I invite the campus and Sacramento community to join me at the 11th annual Sacramento State Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention, taking place in front of The WELL at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14. This event encourages open dialogue about mental health and raises awareness about suicide prevention.

The Out of the Darkness Walk is presented through the collaboration of Student Health and Counseling Services, Sacramento State’s Active Minds Chapter, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). A Mental Health Resource Fair will take place at 4-5:30 p.m. in front of The WELL and will showcase campus and community mental health resources.

As we continue to heal from recent traumas, the Out of the Darkness Walk presents the opportunity for all students, organizations, departments, faculty, staff, and community members to come together and support one another. We must remember and honor those whose lives have been lost to suicide, while also taking action to help raise awareness so that no one ever feels alone or afraid to seek support.

Register now for the Out of the Darkness Walk. If you have any questions or need more information, please email Lara Falkenstein, lara.falkenstein@csus.edu. Together, we can bring the topic of suicide and mental health out of the darkness and into the light. I hope to see you there. Stingers Up!

How we are dealing with the April 3 shooting in downtown Sacramento

April 5, 2022 - Like many of you, I awoke Sunday morning to the horrific news that innocent lives had once again been taken by gun violence in our community. In this video message, I want to share what so many of us are feeling as we process the trauma, grief, and fear that so many people are, and have been, grappling with in reaction to the violence that we have witnessed and experienced all too frequently in recent years.

For individuals who need support, please consider the services and resources offered by Sacramento State.

  • Students should visit Student Health and Counseling Services online, or call 916-278-6461.
  • Sacramento State has counselors ready to support faculty and staff through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) online, or call 800-367-7474.

Please continue to take care of one another. We can, and we must, create a community of respect, inclusion, and love.

Also, please take a few minutes to watch my video Message to the Hornet Family.

Please join us for Strategic Plan Community Forums

April 4, 2022 - As you know, Sacramento State is creating a new strategic plan. In the initial phase of the process, we partnered with MGT Consulting, a firm with extensive experience in higher education strategic planning, to gather insights from campus stakeholders through focus groups, interviews, and a survey. Now that we have an initial draft framework of the plan, we seek additional input and feedback from all members of the Sacramento State community, including students, staff, faculty, alumni, and other community partners.

The Strategic Planning Taskforce will use the feedback received from this process to refine the plan.

Over the coming weeks there will be multiple ways to engage in this process. First, we have developed a landing page on the University website where anyone can review the draft framework and provide written comments. This draft includes the proposed Mission, Vision, and Values, as well as Strategic Goals and Objectives. The final draft will include actions and key performance indicators to assess our ongoing process.

We also have scheduled several forums for individuals who want to give input in person or via Zoom. Please RSVP for one of the following forums:

April 7: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. on Zoom.

April 7: 3 p.m. at Faculty Senate on Zoom (no RSVP required).

April 11: 1-2 p.m. in the University Union Pacific Suite.

April 11: 1-2 p.m. on Zoom.

Gathering input and feedback from all members of the Hornet Family is critical to the success of this endeavor. We look forward to your participation in this very important process. Stingers Up!

We stand against, condemn the perpetration and maintenance of racism

March 23, 2022 - At Sacramento State, we are committed to being a place where all members of the campus community know that they are safe and that they belong. However, recent local and global events remind us that the work of antiracism and inclusion extends beyond the confines of our campus. I write this message today to reaffirm our commitment to antiracism and inclusion and to take a stand against all forms of hate, violence, and discrimination, wherever and whenever they occur.

You may have seen the recent news that the president of American River College was the target of racially motivated death threats. Thankfully, the perpetrator of those threats has been identified and arrested. We also have seen several recent incidents of racist graffiti at local schools. Frightening and horrific hate crimes against Asian Americans also continue to occur in the U.S. Sadly, our nation has a long history with systematic racism, violence, exclusion, profiling, and targeting people of color. These incidents are a stark reminder that we have so much work to do. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Therefore, we need not remain silent, but must stand strong and bold against the perpetuation and maintenance of racism.

Across the globe, media reports indicate that, as they flee the horrors of war, Ukrainian immigrants of color have not received the same support and acceptance as those who present as white. Even some journalists and global leaders have made public comments that reveal racist beliefs and othering of people based on region or color.

Sacramento State condemns these and all acts of hate and racism. I ask once again for the Hornet community to stand together, as a healing and caring campus, to support one another and our fellow humans here and abroad by being antiracism and inclusive.

Deadline extended to give feedback on President Nelsen's performance

March 14, 2022 - Please note: This is an update to the open letter sent to the Sacramento State community dated February 2022, extending the submission deadline for commentary in connection with the review of President Robert S. Nelsen until April 15, 2022. This extension is made necessary by a transition in leadership at the California State University, Office of the Chancellor. The updated letter is as follows:

An open letter to the California State University, Sacramento community:

CSU Board of Trustees policy requires its presidents to be reviewed every three years. It is now time for the review of Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of California State University, Sacramento. This process is intended to provide critically important feedback to the Board of Trustees and the CSU Chancellor regarding the leadership of President Nelsen and the current state of affairs at Sacramento State. It is also intended to be a constructive process, one that informs and guides President Nelsen’s leadership for the benefit of the campus and the community it serves.

It is CSU policy to inform the university community of the review and to encourage all interested stakeholders to submit confidential commentary responding to the specific criteria posted here on the CSU website. Please ensure that your commentary addresses the criteria. Unsigned letters or petitions will not be accepted. Please submit letters or emails no later than April 15, 2022, addressed as follows:

Steve Relyea, Acting Chancellor
The California State University
401 Golden Shore
Long Beach, California 90802-4210
Email: presidentreview@calstate.edu

In addition to this open letter and in accordance with Board policy, a number of officers of the university and the chairs of its major constituencies – the Academic Senate, the Alumni Association, the Associated Students, and the University Advisory Board – are being contacted directly for their comments with respect to the above criteria. Similarly, a sampling of faculty, administrators/managers, staff, students and community members have also been directly invited to submit comments. These directly invited comments will be given the same weight as those submitted in response to this open letter.

Your feedback is highly valued and essential to an accurate and thorough review, and one that ultimately provides the greatest benefit to the extended campus community. Written responses will be summarized into a confidential report that will be discussed with President Nelsen and presented to the Board of Trustees. None of the commentators will be identified by name and, as previously noted, all responses will be treated with the strictest confidence, viewed only by a tightly restricted number of employees within the chancellor’s executive office team who assist with the process.

Thank you for your participation in this collaborative, confidential and extremely important process.

Sincerely,

Steve Relyea,

Acting Chancellor

Sac State mask requirement will expire on March 18

March 10, 2022 - I am pleased and relieved to report that Sacramento County continues to see a rapid decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, with a case rate of 7.1 (per 100,000), the lowest we have seen since June 2021. Our case rate on campus has steadily dropped, while the number of employees and students reporting that they have received their booster shot is on a very strong uptick. The University’s vaccination rate remains above 96%. The CDC, Cal/OSHA, and Sacramento County Health officials have lifted the face-covering mandate. We began this journey listening to science and to epidemiologists and healthcare officials. Doing so has worked, and we will continue to do so now. Accordingly, consistent with federal, state, and local guidance, face coverings no longer will be required in most places on Sacramento State’s campus and at the downtown facility after Friday, March 18.

I know that this decision will be welcomed with mixed emotions. Some students, faculty, and staff will look forward to coming to campus and being able to greet their colleagues without masks. Others will be concerned about exposure and possibly taking the disease to their homes where there may be small children or persons who are immunocompromised. This transition will not be easy. We must continue to take precautions, including testing weekly those individuals who are not fully vaccinated. COVID-19 has not disappeared. Many will feel the need to continue to wear face coverings, especially in classrooms, to protect themselves and their loved ones. Others simply have become comfortable wearing face coverings. Everyone should feel free to wear face coverings, and no one should be shamed for wearing them.

In accordance with health care official guidelines, face coverings will remain mandatory while riding campus public transportation, such as the Hornet Shuttle, and in the health care facilities, including the Student Health Center in The WELL. We will continue to base these important decisions on local, state, and federal public health guidelines and recommendations, as we have throughout the pandemic.

I am well aware that not everyone is ready to be in public settings without a face covering. Wearing a face covering, particularly a high-quality mask such as an N95, has shown to be one of the best ways to protect ourselves from infection when there are high infection rates. Employees and students can access free N95 masks at several campus locations, such as the Library checkout counter and the University Union information desk. I want to stress that the decision to wear or not to wear a face covering is personal – we will not tolerate disrespect of anyone for their choice.

Of course, COVID-19 has taught us that we must be prepared for things to change. If case rates rise and if health officials recommend a change, we will reinstate the face-covering requirement and other important, relevant precautions.

The best protection against COVID-19 remains being fully vaccinated. As you know, the Chancellor’s Office announced in December that students, staff, and faculty are required to receive booster shots to be fully immunized against COVID-19 and in compliance with the CSU Vaccination Policy. Students, staff, and faculty who are eligible must receive and report their booster by Feb. 28, or six months after receiving their final dose of the initial vaccination, whichever is later.

Currently, the booster policy applies to students, faculty, and all non-represented employees. Represented employees are not subject to the policy until the Chancellor’s Office and labor unions complete the meet-and-confer process. The CFA concluded the meet-and-confer process in January, and the result is that faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches now are subject to the policy. Visit MyTurn.ca.gov to find a clinic near you to schedule your booster. Information about booster eligibility can be found on the CDC website. All students, faculty, and staff should take immediate action to receive their booster as soon as they are eligible, and then promptly update their vaccination information in their Student Center or Employee Center.

I am grateful that we are back together on campus and that campus and local case rates have dropped so dramatically. I continue to be impressed with the care the Hornet Family has taken for one another as we have fought COVID-19 together. I ask that you continue to show the same care for one another as we enter this next phase. Stingers Up!

Offering thanks to University staff for great work through the pandemic

March 3, 2022 - It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented campus shutdown that lasted far longer than we could have imagined. Though I know that members of the Hornet Family have endured many personal and professional challenges during this time, I am incredibly proud of and deeply impressed with your hard work and dedication throughout this pandemic. I want to extend my thanks, my genuine thanks, thanks from my heart to yours, for all that you have done to help us continue to achieve our mission to transform the lives of our students. Thanks to you, your colleagues, and our faculty, 9,099 students graduated in 2020-21, and approximately 9,000 more will graduate this academic year.

Each and every one of you played an important role in ensuring that those students achieved their dream of graduating. All of you have made the Miracle on J Street happen, and have unleashed the power of education to make dreams a reality. You showed up for each other and for our students. I know that it was not easy. As we move forward, we will use the lessons learned during the pandemic to improve opportunities and outcomes for our students while making our own work more efficient, effective, and fulfilling.

We will be celebrating your hard work and dedication in several ways this semester, including:

  • Limited edition Sac State sweatshirt, shirt, or backpack: Please fill out the order form to choose your item. Orders must be submitted by March 18.
  • Tickets to a campus event: Request up to four tickets to one of a variety of campus events, including sports, Planetarium shows, music, theater, and dance. Visit the Staff and Faculty Appreciation Events order form to choose an event and request your tickets.
  • Ice cream social on the University Main Quad: Mark your calendar for 3-5 p.m. Friday, April 22, as we celebrate the impact of the On the Rise campaign and express our appreciation for the critical roles that staff and faculty play to support the mission of Sac State.
  • Essential staff Hornet Hero pin: Those staff who were required to continue reporting to campus during the shutdown will receive a special gift: Your managers will deliver specially designed, limited edition Hornet Hero pins to you this spring.

I understand that Sac State gear and ice cream are not the only or even best ways to recognize your work and dedication. Please know that these are but one part of an overall effort to create a culture of appreciation, and that I will continue to work with managers across campus to make other improvements to your work environment. We have work to do to ensure that Sac State is a place where everyone feels they are valued and that they have opportunities for growth and fulfillment, and I remain committed to leading those efforts.

You are what makes our Hornet Family strong. Thank you for all that you have done, and all that you continue to do. Together, our staff and faculty make Sac State No. 1. Stingers Up!

Spring 2022 Commencement tickets are available now

March 1, 2022 - As you know, after two years of being unable to host traditional graduation festivities, 2022 Spring Commencement will be held May 20 – 22 at Golden 1 Center. I am happy to announce that eligible graduates may now RSVP and claim up to six tickets for the event. I encourage all eligible graduates to review the Guest Ticket webpage for more information about ticketing, including the registration windows, and a step-by-step guide to claim tickets.

Eligible graduates have been granted access to register and claim up to six guest tickets through their Student Center. The free tickets are required for guests to attend Commencement, are unique to each college's ceremony, and are valid only at the Commencement ceremony listed on the ticket. Graduates do not need tickets for themselves, and children under age 3 who will sit on a guardian’s lap during the ceremony do not require a ticket. You can view the full schedule here. Additional information is available on the Commencement website.

Only Fall 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022 graduates are invited to participate in the 2022 Spring Commencement. I’m sorry, but at this time, requests to participate early/late (for students not graduating Fall 2021, Spring 2022, or Summer 2022) are not being accepted. We simply cannot accommodate everyone, which is why we are so thankful that the Spring 2021 CARmencement was such a success.

Mask requirements and COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols will be determined and communicated as we get closer to Commencement. I want to congratulate all of our upcoming graduates. I look forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with you, and your family and friends at Golden 1 Center this May. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SacStateGrad on all your graduation pictures and posts to be featured on our social media feed at Commencement. Stingers Up!

We reaffirm our support for the LGBTQIA+ community

Feb. 28, 2022 - I am deeply disturbed and saddened by decisions made by Texas state leaders last week that threaten the lives of transgender youth in that state and possibly everywhere. Transgender children deserve to be cared for by their parents, schools, and communities, not be the subject of partisan attacks that take away their civil rights and threaten their lives. At Sacramento State, we value and support all members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

These types of attacks on transgender and gender nonconforming individuals create significant fear and trauma for many, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community whose civil rights and fundamental liberties are placed in jeopardy by the brutal ignorance of these leaders. Thankfully, transgender children and their families in California are not subject to such cruel directives. We stand with those families in Texas, and in many other places across the nation and the world, in the fight against destructive, politically motivated calls to rip children from loving homes.

If you need support during this time, please connect with the PRIDE Center, which offers space for community and provides programming and Safe Zone trainings throughout the year. The PRIDE Center is on the first floor of the University Union and can be reached at pride@csus.edu. Students can also reach out to the Student Health and Counseling Center for in-person or virtual counseling sessions. Employees can access mental health care and other resources through the Employee Assistance Program, and can seek support from the QTFAS Employee Affinity Group (EAG).

Let us continue to work for a world in which everyone can live free from discrimination, fear, bias, and hate. A world where all know they belong. A world that will live up to the ideals of the Hornet Family.

We support our Ukrainian students and employees

Feb. 24, 2022 - Like many of you, my heart has been heavy as I have watched the events in Ukraine unfold. To the students, staff, and faculty with family and loved ones in Ukraine, I want to assure you that the Hornet Family stands by you, and we will use our resources to assist and support you in any way that we can. Students, staff, or faculty members who are impacted by the events in Ukraine and who are seeking guidance from the State Department should contact Stephanie Ingvaldson with Sac State’s Office of International Programs and Global Engagement at ingvaldson@csus.edu for assistance. Counseling for students is available at the Student Health and Counseling Center

It is incredibly difficult to watch the suffering and terrifying destruction happening across the globe. Our hearts go out to all of the people of Ukraine and to our Ukrainian students and employees. We care about you, and we are here for you. You and our world deserve better. Let’s join hands as a Hornet Family and as humanity in united support of one another.

Our commitment to upholding Title IX remains strong

Feb. 18, 2022 - Chancellor Joseph I. Castro on Thursday, Feb. 17, submitted his resignation to the CSU Board of Trustees. While trustees finalize a succession plan, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Steve Relyea will serve as acting chancellor. The board also will launch an initiative aimed at strengthening institutional culture to ensure that the CSU is at the forefront of Title IX innovation, accountability, and response.

Sacramento State is unequivocally committed to fully investigating claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation, and to holding individuals accountable for their actions. We also are committed to protecting those who report such behaviors. We must be vigilant to assure that we protect and support one another from all forms of discrimination and harassment.

All members of the Hornet Family should know their rights and responsibilities related to reporting discrimination and sexual harassment. Reports of, or direct experiences with, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should be reported to our Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO). Sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, sexual exploitation and stalking violate University policy and may also violate state and federal laws. Nearly all employees (with exceptions specifically designated by the University as “confidential” resources) are required by CSU Policy to report to OEO suspected instances of harassment or discrimination based on a protected status and related instances of retaliation. This includes instances of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and stalking. To learn more about reporting acts of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, including your responsibilities, please visit the OEO website.

I recognize that discussions about sexual harassment, discrimination, and all forms of bias can cause pain and re-traumatize victims and others. For those in need of support, please consider the services and resources offered by Sacramento State. Students should visit Student Health and Counseling Services online, or call 916-278-6461. Sacramento State has counselors ready to support faculty and staff through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) online, or call 800-367-7474.

We are at a difficult juncture for the CSU system, but I am committed to ensuring that Sacramento State is a safe and inclusive place to live, learn, and work. Sacramento State must be safe for everyone in the Hornet Family. We must also be a Healing University. Thank you for doing your part to take care of one another.

Disbursement of spring HEERF III payments to students set to begin

Feb. 18, 2022 - Many of you have been waiting for news about when and how the most recent round of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) money, referred to as HEERF III, will be distributed to Sacramento State students. Sacramento State received $52 million of the funding, authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to provide support to students. The University distributed half its portion in the form of grants for all students in fall 2021 and will distribute the other half now. Congress intends for students to use the money for expenses – such as food, housing, course materials, health care, and child care – related to the disruption of their studies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, we worked to determine how best to allocate the grants in alignment with guidance from Congress to prioritize grants for students with the most need. We have used data from the students’ 2021-22 FAFSA to determine need. However, we know that every student has been affected in one way or another by the pandemic. Therefore, we once again have worked to ensure that all students will receive relief, while acknowledging that students who currently receive high-need federal financial aid in the form of a Pell grant might continue to have increased need. Hence, we will allocate the HEERF III funds to all students in the following manner: H2 is not to be applied. Use Section Subhead. If you should need a second headline, use H3 or start a new section.

Pell Eligible EFC: Enrolled in 7 or more units - $1,175; Enrolled in 6 or less units - $900

Not Pell Eligible EFC: Enrolled in 7 or more units - $1,000; Enrolled in 6 or less units - $800

10,001 EFC and Above or No FAFSA: Enrolled in 7 or more units - $820; Enrolled in 6 or less units - $700

All students enrolled in degree programs on the University’s spring 2022 census date (Feb. 18) are eligible to receive funding from HEERF III. This includes DACA students, international students, and students in fully online degree programs through the College of Continuing Education.

Students automatically will receive their grant via eRefund or a mailed check. Our goal is to start disbursing this money on Monday, Feb. 28. It is extremely important that students have updated their directory information in their Student Center, because checks will be sent to the address listed there. The quickest way for students to receive their grant is via eRefund. Students should strongly consider signing up for eRefund if they have not already done so. Students also should double check that their eRefund bank account is active. Students can find eRefund in their Student Center. Information on how to access eRefund can be found on the campus Bursar's Office web page. Students who have a balance due or a hold on their account will receive a full grant. They may, but are not required to, use their grant to pay down their balance or resolve any holds.

Obviously, the COVID-19 crisis has dramatically changed the financial situation for many students and their families. Hence, Sacramento State also set aside additional funding for students in crisis. Information about how to apply for these supplemental grants can be found on the Emergency Grants page.

I know that many of our students still face substantial, significant financial challenges that these grants cannot cover. We remain committed to finding ways to support the Hornet Family through this crisis. Many generous donors have come forward to help. Students facing additional needs should consider applying for the Sacramento State emergency grant and emergency housing programs.

Please be safe and stay strong. Stingers up!

Our role in ensuring compliance with NCAA rules and regulations

Feb. 17, 2022 - As you know, Sacramento State continues to build a rich tradition of academic and athletic achievement. It is the responsibility of each NCAA member institution to control its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the association’s rules and regulations. Our steadfast purpose of integrity requires a commitment to compliance with all University, conference, and NCAA rules.

Our campus community’s main focus is on benefits and academic misconduct. The NCAA defines an “extra benefit” as any special arrangement or benefit provided to a student-athlete that is not generally available to other students or their families. Relevant examples of extra benefits include, but are not limited to, creating special courses for a student-athlete; authorizing a grade change for athletics reasons (e.g., to remain eligible); or providing a student-athlete the use of a car or lodging, or tickets to concerts or sporting events.

From an NCAA perspective, academic misconduct is determined by the University in accordance with the institution’s own policies and procedures. A student-athlete suspected of engaging in academic misconduct should be treated the same as any other student. All applicable policies and procedures listed on the syllabus or within the Sacramento State Policy Manual should be followed. Failure to follow University policy can result in the finding that a student has received an extra benefit. Academic misconduct is an NCAA violation that must be reported when it involves any institutional staff member. Examples of institutional staff members include professors, teaching assistants, sports staff members, and tutors. If the academic misconduct results in a student-athlete being incorrectly certified as eligible, it must be reported.

To educate our coaches, student-athletes, faculty, staff, fans, and supporters about these rules, we created a booster guide with basic NCAA rules information. The NCAA considers anyone who is involved in promoting Hornet Athletics to be a booster. This includes those who have donated to the Athletics Department; assisted the Athletics Department during an official or unofficial visit by allowing a prospect to attend a class; or purchased season tickets for a certain sport. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Our student-athletes have done their very best to schedule their semester courses to help minimize conflict between their classes and travel schedules for athletic competition. However, some conflict is unavoidable. Per the Student Excused Absences Policy, a student-athlete’s participation in intercollegiate athletics is a University-approved event.

Given the number and complexity of NCAA rules, we realize questions may remain. Please email any such questions to our Athletics Compliance Office (ACO). The ACO also has a Twitter account – @SacStateComply – where you can follow recent NCAA compliance news or obtain additional information.

We appreciate you for taking time to review the information contained in this letter – and for your support as we strive to be No. 1 academically and athletically. Stingers Up!

While masks remain, boosters are only path to full vaccination

Feb. 15, 2022 - Sacramento State temporarily will continue to require individuals to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces, despite today’s lifting of mask mandates by the state of California and Sacramento County. The University’s guidelines apply to classrooms, hallways, offices, workout and practice areas, restrooms, computer labs, study areas, athletic facilities, and any other indoor public spaces.

Over the next two weeks, our COVID-19 task force, in consultation with local public health officials, will establish a path forward for our campus to begin lifting face-covering requirements for individuals who are fully vaccinated. As a reminder, individuals must receive a booster to be considered fully vaccinated, according to the CSU Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. On our campus, individuals must receive the booster by Feb. 28 or six months after receiving the final dose of the initial vaccination, whichever is later. In other words, if you are eligible but have not yet received your booster, you are not fully vaccinated.

I know that some people are tired of wearing face coverings and that many others are not yet ready to be in public settings without one. As always, we will consider multiple factors in our planning, including the percentage of individuals on campus who are fully vaccinated (including a booster), campus case rates, and recommendations of public health officials such as face-covering requirements for K-12 schools. To be clear, in compliance with the CSU Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, we will continue to require face coverings and mandatory weekly testing for faculty, staff, and students who are not fully vaccinated.

This pandemic has taught us that change can happen quickly and that we must remain ready to pivot. I am grateful for the continued care and flexibility you have provided for each other as we returned to in-person learning last week. I am so glad we are back together, and I look forward to a safe and productive spring semester. Stingers Up!

Face coverings still required on campus, despite state guideline changes

Feb. 14, 2022 - State of California and Sacramento County mandates requiring all individuals to wear face covering indoors in most public spaces will be lifted tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 15. However, Sacramento State has not made any changes to campus policy and continues to require everyone to wear face coverings indoors in public spaces on campus. Our campus COVID-19 task force will meet soon to discuss next steps, but until further notice, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors must continue to mask while indoors.

As you know, the Chancellor’s Office announced in December that students, staff, and faculty are required to receive booster shots to be fully immunized against COVID-19 and in compliance with the CSU Vaccination Policy. Students, staff, and faculty who are eligible must receive and report their booster by Feb. 28, or six months after receiving their final dose of the initial vaccination, whichever is later.

Currently, the booster policy applies to students, faculty, and all non-represented employees. Represented employees are not subject to the policy until the Chancellor’s Office and labor unions complete the meet-and-confer process. The CFA concluded the meet-and-confer process in January, and the result is that faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches now are subject to the policy. Visit MyTurn.ca.gov to find a clinic near you to schedule your booster. Information about booster eligibility can be found on the CDC website.

Once you have received your booster, don’t forget to update your self-certification form. Employees can do so in their Employee Center. Students will find the self-certification form in their Student Center.

As I have said before, I am incredibly proud of how hard everyone has worked to keep one another safe since the beginning of the pandemic. Thank you for your continuing efforts to keep Sac State a caring, safe campus. Stingers Up!

MPP volunteers sought to help present Spring 2022 Commencement

Feb. 9, 2022 - This May, after two years without in-person Commencement ceremonies, we get to watch our students walk across the stage at the Golden 1 Center. Spring 2022 Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for May 20-22. To ensure the best experience for our students and their guests, we will need 467 volunteer shifts filled across the three days of ceremonies. All Management Personnel Plan (MPP) employees are required to volunteer for at least one shift, although we encourage you to consider signing up for more than one shift if you are able to do so.

The Volunteer Registration Form is now open. I encourage you to sign up as soon as you are able. Shifts are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and they fill quickly. MPPs who are already required to work or attend the ceremonies as part of their job duties (such as University Communications, the platform party, college administrators, etc.) are not required to sign up for additional volunteer shifts.

We understand that there will be MPPs who already have commitments that weekend and will not be able to volunteer this year. If you have a prior commitment, please send a memo to the vice president of your division stating why you are unable to attend Commencement.

We also understand that not all MPPs will feel comfortable being face-to-face with the public at this event. For this reason, we will leave a comment box in the volunteer registration form, where you can indicate your level of comfort working in certain positions. Volunteers who are not comfortable working in close proximity with guests and graduates will be assigned other duties at Commencement.

Thank you again for your commitment to our students and for giving your time to make their day truly special. Commencement is our most public event and one of the most important days in the lives of our students. I appreciate the sacrifices that you make to ensure that our students and their families have the best graduation possible. I look forward to seeing you at Golden 1 this May. Stingers Up!

Plans for your safe return to campus on Feb. 7

Feb. 2, 2022 - These past two years have been difficult, difficult for everyone whether faculty, staff, students, or administrators. But we have remained true to our mission to transform lives through education. I am so grateful to all of you, and so grateful that finally we are at a stage where we can safely return to campus this coming Monday, Feb. 7, when all classes will return to the modality originally published in the course schedule.

We continue to consult with epidemiologists and public health officials and to monitor positivity rates and hospitalizations. We are confident that we can safely resume in-person instruction and on-campus operations as planned. As predicted, case rates are rapidly declining, both on and off campus. The two-week delay for in-person instruction at the start of the semester allowed time for a decrease in the spread of the Omicron variant and for individuals who may have been exposed during the winter break to isolate. With 96% of students, faculty, and staff vaccinated, and with the mask mandate and other precautions, Sac State remains a safe place to live, work, and learn. As always, we will continue to follow health and safety guidance and policies, and we will monitor any changes in circumstances.

  • Face coverings are required for everyone in indoor public spaces. N95, KN95, and other well-fitting respiration masks provide the highest level of protection and are available to all students, faculty, and staff at various campus locations.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all students, faculty, and staff. Individuals with medical or religious exemptions must continue mandatory weekly testing. Based on what we learned over the last six months of testing, and because of the high vaccination rate, we can safely transition from twice- to once-weekly testing.
  • To fully comply with the CSU Vaccination Policy, faculty, staff, and students are required to receive booster shots by Feb. 28, or six months after receiving the final dose of the initial vaccination, whichever is later. We encourage everyone who is eligible to get their COVID-19 booster as soon as possible; however, represented employees will not be subject to the policy until the Chancellor’s Office concludes the meet-and-confer process with labor unions. The CFA has completed the meet-and-confer process, and faculty now are subject to the booster requirement. Please update your self-certification form in your Student or Employee Center to include the date of your booster.
  • Anyone who is symptomatic or has a close exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should follow the appropriate guidelines outlined in our COVID-19 FAQS page. Close exposure to someone who has tested positive is defined as being within six feet of that person for at least fifteen minutes while indoors.
  • After a close exposure, fully vaccinated (which includes boosters for those eligible) individuals should test after three to five days and continue to wear a face covering in public spaces, but they do not need to isolate if they remain asymptomatic. Individuals who are not vaccinated must isolate after a close exposure, and may return to campus after five days and a negative test. We ask managers and instructors to be flexible and understanding with students and employees who need to isolate or practice distancing after a close exposure.

For the most up-to-date information about health and safety policies and procedures, including links for reporting positive COVID-19 tests, students should visit our COVID-19 Information for Students page. Employees should visit the Campus COVID-19 Safety Information page. Faculty and staff can order safety supplies and masks by completing the Risk Management order form. Faculty may consult the Academic Continuity planning web page for support as they transition back to published course modalities.

I understand that, for some, coming back together may provoke anxiety. For those who need support, please consider the services and resources offered by Sacramento State. Students should visit Student Health and Counseling Services online, or call 916-278-6461. Sacramento State has counselors ready to support faculty and staff through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) online, or call 800-367-7474.

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep one another safe and healthy, and thank you for remaining true to our educational mission. Stingers Up!

President's Spring Address will be virtual on Jan. 21

Though I always look forward to seeing members of the Hornet Family gathered together, we have decided that the President’s Spring Address will be held virtually at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 21. We will be together again soon, but we must stay vigilant, especially during the current COVID-19 surge. I invite you to watch the livestream on our campus event web page.

Please note that events and meetings currently are not prohibited, but keeping all members of the Hornet Family and our community safe and healthy remains a priority. Anyone who decides to host in-person classes, meetings, or gatherings must follow all COVID-19 safety protocols. For the most up-to-date information about campus events and other safety guidelines, please refer to our COVID-19 Information web pages.

Thank you for your continued commitment to safety and to each other. I look forward to our Hornet Family being back on campus this semester. Stingers Up!

Antiracism and Inclusive Convocation on Feb. 14 will be virtual

As we near the start of another semester, our journey to transform Sacramento State into a campus free from racism, oppression, and injustice continues. An important part of this transformation is implementation of the recommended actions from our Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Plan. To that end, our upcoming Convocation is a call to action for our entire Sac State community to commit to being an antiracism and inclusive campus.

We all play an important role in this effort, and I encourage all students, faculty, staff, and administrators to participate. The Antiracism and Inclusive Convocation, “A CALL to ACTION: Eradicate, Resolve, and Liberate,” will take place virtually from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.

To eradicate is to eliminate oppressions at Sac State. To resolve is to identify intentional solutions for the problems created by racism and exclusion. To liberate is to elevate our consciousness, challenge the status quo, and use our power and influence to enact change.

In accordance with University Policy, classes may be dismissed during a Convocation, and students who attend may do so without penalty if their classes are not dismissed. Registration will open the week of Jan. 18, when more information will be available on the Sac State home page and the Inclusive Excellence website.

Please mark your calendar and join me on Monday, Feb. 14, as we gather – virtually – to put our words into action. Stingers Up!

Most classes will be online for first two weeks of the spring semester

Jan. 4, 2022 - As we transition into a new era, moving from pandemic to endemic, Sacramento State remains dedicated to its mission of providing our students with an excellent education while maintaining the safety and health not only of our students but also of our faculty and staff. The COVID-19 numbers have been climbing in Sacramento County. We have been in close consultation with county health and other officials. We are confident that these numbers will level off and drop as the semester proceeds. Still, in an effort to minimize the fear and potential danger as the daily rates spike, we have decided that most classes and labs will be delivered virtually from Jan. 24 through Feb. 6. On Feb. 7, we will return to the published class schedule with the vast majority of classes face-to-face.

I want to be clear that the two-week shift to mostly virtual instruction is temporary and that campus will remain open even during the transition. We are committed to being a face-to-face University, but as I said above, we also are committed to keeping all members of the Hornet Family safe and healthy. Thankfully, our semester starts in late January. This temporary two-week period of virtual instruction will allow us to come back together after the projected spikes of the Omicron variant subside. Life truly has been hectic, and we all need time to take a deep breath before resuming our published schedule. We owe it to the students, who have come back to Sacramento or have rented apartments and sometimes left jobs, to be there for them. I am incredibly proud of Sac State’s high rate of vaccination – nearly 96% of our students, staff, and faculty – and individuals with exemptions are testing regularly. Our campus is a safe place to work and learn, thanks to your efforts.

Please take the time to review carefully the updates and clarifications about University operations and efforts underway as we move forward in a way that will ensure the safety of our students, staff, and faculty.

For students:

  • Most classes and labs will meet virtually from Jan. 24 through Feb. 6. Students should monitor email and Canvas for messages from their professors with instructions for the first two weeks of class meetings. Classes whose professors determine that instruction should not be online and needs to be face-to-face will meet in-person.
  • Residence halls will remain open and North Village check-in day is still scheduled for Jan. 21. The Servery will also open as scheduled on Jan. 21. Students will receive an email from University Housing Services about the check-in process.
  • Our campus is open, and day-to-day services are available, including Information Resources and Technology, the Hornet Bookstore, Student Health and Counseling Services, and the Student Service Center.

For faculty:

  • Interim Provost Carlos Nevarez will share additional information about the process to request that individual classes remain in-person for the first two weeks of instruction.
  • Resources and advice about how to maintain academic continuity can be found on the Academic Continuity Planning webpage. We will update the FAQs on this page as we get more information.

For staff:

  • Per my Dec. 31 message, implementation of the formal Telecommuting Agreement has been postponed until Feb. 7.
  • Employees who want the option to work from home, including unrepresented employees such as MPPs, may work with their managers to create schedules that allow remote work and continuity of campus services.
  • To support remote work during this period, the use of cellular hotspots has been extended through Feb. 12. Information Resources and Technology (IRT) is available to help you stay connected. IRT can be reached for assistance at servicedesk@csus.edu or 916-278-7337 during its open hours.

I wish we did not have to take this temporary precautionary action, delaying the start of face-to-face classes for two weeks. I know we are all tired of this pandemic and want to be back on campus. For members of the Hornet Family who need additional support, please consider the services and resources offered by Sacramento State. Students should visit Student Health and Counseling Services online, or call 916-278-6461. We have in-person and virtual counselors ready to help you through this difficult time. Faculty and staff should contact our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) online, or call 800-367-7474.

At this point, pivoting to remote teaching and learning is not a new experience, but it is highly troubling for most people and downright distasteful for others. Very thankfully, Sac State knows how do to the best for our students and for each other. Thank you for your resilience during these ongoing challenges, and for your patience as we pivot, yet again. I remain immensely grateful for your perseverance. Stingers Up!

Some access limited on campus as University reopens after break

Jan. 2, 2022 - Happy New Year and welcome back. Beginning tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 3, the University will be open, including the following buildings that provide services to students:

  • University Union
  • The Well
  • Student Health and Counseling Services
  • AIRC
  • Lassen Hall

The Library will be open with limited access; faculty, staff, and students who have collection or service needs should call 916-278-6230.

Some buildings will have limited fob access for employees as we prepare to serve our students. Those buildings are:

  • Tahoe Hall
  • Sequoia Hall
  • Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex
  • Eureka Hall

All other buildings will be open.

The Residence Halls are open and functioning, and beginning Monday, food services will be available in the University Union. The Bookstore will be open, as will UEI offices.

Students seeking assistance regarding classes, financial aid, or any other services should go directly to the Student Services Center in Lassen Hall where help will be available. The Student Services Center will serve as a resource for all student needs.

Additional information will be forthcoming as we safely return to campus. I look forward to seeing you all again. Meanwhile, stay safe and Stingers Up!

Invitation to participate in President Nelsen's performance evaluation

February 2022 - Open letter to the California State University, Sacramento:

The CSU Board of Trustees has a policy requiring its presidents to be reviewed every three years. It is now time for the review of Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of California State University, Sacramento.

This process is intended to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor about the leadership of President Nelsen and the current state of affairs at Sacramento State. It should also provide information that will further the university's progress and assist President Nelsen in the leadership of Sacramento State.

As is the policy of the board, a number of officers of the university and the chairs of its major constituencies, the Faculty Senate, the Alumni Association, the Associated Students, and the University Advisory Board are being contacted for their comments with respect to specific criteria, which are cited below. A sampling of faculty, administrators/managers, staff, and community is also being invited to submit individual comments.

It is CSU policy to inform the university community of the review and to allow anyone not selected on an ex-officio or random basis to submit comments that respond to the specific criteria. The criteria are posted at https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/about-the-csu/leadership/presidents/Documents/csu-presidential-review-criteria.pdf on the CSU website. Those wishing to submit confidential letters should keep in mind that every effort should be made to address the criteria and that neither unsigned letters nor petitions will be accepted. Please submit letters or emails no later than March 11, 2022, addressed as follows:

Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Chancellor

The California State University

401 Golden Shore, Suite 641

Long Beach, California 90802-4210

Email: presidentreview@calstate.edu

The written responses will be summarized into a confidential report that will be discussed with Dr. Nelsen. The report will be presented to the Board of Trustees. None of the commentators will be identified by name, and responses will be treated in confidence to the extent permitted by the law.

Please keep in mind that this is intended to be a constructive process that should benefit the presidency and the university.

Sincerely,

Joseph I. Castro

Chancellor

Archive of President Communications