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Presidential Communications - 2016

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

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Dr. Ching-Hua Wang will become provost and VP of Academic Affairs

Dec. 20, 2016 - After a yearlong search, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Ching-Hua Wang has accepted the offer to join Sacramento State as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Wang is currently at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, where she has been the Dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences since 2012.

Prior to her role at Dominican University, she was at California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). She was one of the original 13 faculty who were recruited to start CSUCI. At CSUCI, she secured $6 million in CIRM and HSI-STEM grants, and worked with international institutions to establish global partnerships. She served as the Program Director for the Bridges Stem Cell Research Training Program and as the Director of the Master of Science in Biotech and Bioinformatics Program. Dr. Wang also served as a Special Assistant to the Provost.

Dr. Wang brings with her an impressive list of accomplishments at Dominican University, where, in addition to being Dean, she was a Professor of Immunology and Microbiology. She managed all extramural grants on campus and raised $9.3 million from private sources and corporations. She will join our campus Feb. 1, and I am confident that she will help us continue to excel in our mission to provide a high-quality education for our students. I look forward to working together to improve our students’ time to degree and their research experiences. I am excited about Sacramento State’s future under her academic leadership.

With the appointment of Dr. Wang, I must also express my deepest gratitude to Interim Provost Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee. Mike stepped away from his role as CFO and Vice President for Administration to serve as Interim Provost while we conducted our search. In one short year, he has been able to drive substantial changes in Academic Affairs, including adding 12,000 seats and 384 sections this fall to ensure that our students got the classes that they needed. I am profoundly grateful for his commitment and leadership at Sacramento State. Mike is an incredible asset to the Hornet Family, and I look forward to our continued partnership when he resumes his role as CFO and Vice President for Administration.

Mike’s success in Academic Affairs would not have been possible without the support and leadership of Stacy Hayano, who stepped up as Interim CFO and Vice President for Administration in Mike’s absence. My greatest appreciation goes to Stacy and to the entire Administration and Business Affairs division for their understanding, patience, and commitment during this time.

Academic Affairs and Administration and Business Affairs have shown what it means to be a Hornet throughout this most recent year. I am excited for the next phase, and I ask that you please join me in welcoming Dr. Wang to our Hornet Family.

Let's use the Hornet Honor Code to heal

Dec. 12, 2016 - I have worked with words my whole life. What I know is that words really matter – they shape who we are, and they directly affect everyone who is touched by them.

I have watched words rip families and communities apart. I have seen students cry when someone has called another person “illegal.” No human is “illegal.” “Illegal” applies to actions, not to individuals.

I am writing this SacSend because a group of students asked me to write it, to help our community – our Hornet Family – understand that in this time of uncertainty, we need to care for each other more than ever. But I am also writing this out of an abundance of pride in the progress that we are making at Sac State. As we enter into the holiday season, I hope that we will celebrate that progress and commit to continuing to “redefine the possible.”

For much of the past year, a committee has worked diligently to create a Hornet Honor Code, and we will begin the process of instituting it in the coming spring semester. The committee members understand that words and actions matter, and they understand that we want our campus to be a place where everyone, regardless of ethnicity, age, religion, sexual identity, political persuasion, or documentation or the lack of documentation, belongs.

The Hornet Honor Code is the result of a campus-wide collaboration to guide us as we establish our Hornet identity – indeed, as we bond as a Hornet family.

As proud members and representatives of the Sacramento State Hornet community, we commit ourselves to actively promoting honesty, integrity, respect, and care for every person, ensuring a welcoming campus environment, and striving to help every member of our Hornet Family feel a strong sense of belonging.

As Hornets, we will:

  • Promote an inclusive campus and community.
  • Listen and respect each other’s thoughts, interests, and views.
  • Value diversity and learn from one another.
  • Engage daily with mutual trust, care, and integrity.
  • Support a culture of honor and adhere to campus policies for honesty, ethics, and conduct.
  • Be proud to be Sac State Hornets.

The Hornet Honor Code is more than words – although these words truly matter. The Hornet Honor Code is more than “lip service.” The Hornet Honor Code is a commitment.

We are entering finals week. Every student deserves to feel safe on campus. No student should be taunted or suffer verbal abuse. No one should yell at a fellow student, telling him or her to “Go back to Mexico” or that “All Muslims are terrorists.” No one should inappropriately label someone “illegal.” Likewise, no one should shout the word “racist” in retaliation or use the “N-word” out of hate or fear. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and it is protected, but no one, especially no cadet from Sac State’s ROTC program, should be subject to verbal abuse and be spat upon while just walking between classes. All of these incidents actually occurred on our campus this year.

The University Staff Assembly and Associated Students, Inc. (our student government) have endorsed the Hornet Honor Code, as has the Administrative Council and the President’s Cabinet. As 2017 rolls out, we will be taking the Hornet Honor Code to other constituencies, including the Faculty Senate. We also will be using it as a guide at our faculty, staff, and student orientations. The Hornet Honor Code must be central to the very core of our Hornet Identity.

Our country may be fragmented, but our Hornet Honor Code can – and will – bind us together as we “transform the lives of our students for leadership, service, and success.” Rather than using words as weapons to hurt others, let’s use the Hornet Honor Code to heal.

With the inauguration pending in January, the uncertainty over the status of our undocumented students and their families, as well as the future of our Muslim faculty, staff, and students, is greatly heightened. I ask that we treat each other with the compassion that every human deserves, and I sincerely hope that as a campus, we can stop using words such as “illegal” that so deeply wound so many members of our Hornet Family.

To our students and faculty, I wish you well during the final days of the semester. And to the entire Hornet Family, I hope that you have a safe and happy winter break. I look forward to the start of the new year as we roll out the Hornet Honor Code. Stingers Up!

We will always be strongest when we work together

Nov. 9, 2016 - Like many of you, the results of last night’s election were for me unexpected. I am proud of the diversity and inclusiveness at Sacramento State, and I do not want our ideals and values threatened by this election, regardless of which candidate you supported. I am deeply troubled by much of the rhetoric that has come out of the campaign, and I fear that it has emboldened some to act in hateful and hurtful ways. We must continue to be kind to each other and not let the divisiveness of this election change who we are and what we believe. Our commitment to an inclusive and safe campus must be stronger than ever as we prepare for new leadership in our country.

As a public university, our right of free speech and the right to peacefully protest are protected by the First Amendment. We are a diverse campus, and our opinions and beliefs will often be in conflict. We must create and ensure safe and civil spaces for these opinions to be expressed and debated. I encourage you to listen, participate, and engage in these exchanges of ideas and perspectives. Despite our differences, we are still a Hornet Family, and we will always be strongest when we work together. We must honor each other and stand in solidarity with the members of our community who feel afraid, unsafe, or threatened. While many of us may feel uncertain about what may come, I can assure you that the University will be here to listen and offer support.

For those of you who may need additional support during this time, I encourage you to use the services and resources below.

Students should visit our Counseling Services at The WELL or contact them at 916-278-6461. We have counselors ready to help.

Faculty and staff should contact our University Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-367-7474 or online on our Human Resources website.

Information on how to identify and assist students in distress may be found on the Red Folder website, or you can find information for downloading an app for mobile devices here.

As President Obama noted this morning, “We’re not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first.” And as I said above, we are also a Hornet Family, and we will not let this election divide us or impede the important work that we are doing at Sacramento State to ensure that our University is welcoming and inclusive for all.

Oct. 27, 2016 - Over the summer, we revised our policies on time, place, and manner for speech and speech-related activities to make them clearer and easier to understand. We have updated several sections and clarified certain policies, such as those surrounding the rules for chalking on campus. The procedures have been consolidated into one document to make it easier for the campus community to know what is permitted and what is not permitted on our campus.

I encourage everyone to take some time to review the document and to familiarize themselves with the policies. It is our responsibility to protect the rights of free speech and peaceful protest on our campus, but we also must participate in such activities in a safe, respectful, and responsible manner as outlined in the policies. You can review the new policies and the accompanying procedures on our website.

A group with large, graphic images of fetuses is on campus today

Oct. 18, 2016 - After receiving complaints and messages of concern yesterday, I feel that it is important to let you know that a group with large, graphic images of fetuses is continuing to protest on our campus today near the library quad. If these images are upsetting to you and if you feel that they are as inappropriate as I do, then I encourage you to avoid that area. While the University does not take a position on these issues and honors the sacred privileges of the First Amendment, I personally do not condone this group's approach. Sacramento State, however, is a public space, and this group has a right to be present on our campus and to exercise their right to free speech. As a campus and as administrators, we will respect that right.

Concerned students who have been particularly disturbed by these graphic images should seriously consider visiting our Counseling Services in the WELL or contacting them at 916-278-6461. We have counselors ready to help you.

Concerned faculty and staff should contact our University Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-367-7474 or online on our Human Resources website.

I am constituting a task force to develop a signature Literacy Week

Oct. 17, 2016 - In collaboration with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSAD), I am constituting a Task Force to develop a signature Literacy Week at Sacramento State in spring 2017. Dr. Robert Pieretti and Dr. Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin from CSAD will co-chair the group. The purpose of the Task Force is to expand and bring even more awareness to the need for literacy development for children ages 3 to 12 in our community, to highlight the varying efforts that already exist here, and to unite our faculty and students in supporting literacy development in the greater Sacramento area.

The Task Force will be charged to design and develop a weeklong annual spring literacy event on our campus that highlights current research and best practices, bringing children, families, professionals, and politicians to Sacramento State to participate in engaging activities that promote literacy development at home and at school.

We already have several individuals who have volunteered to serve on the Task Force and who have done outstanding work in our community in the areas of language development and literacy, but to include input from the many important shareholders in literacy development (Education, Deaf Education, Child Development, Speech-Language Pathology, School Psychology, Special Education, Arts and Letters, and all areas of the University), I am asking for more participants from across the campus. We cannot be successful without broad representation and accumulated knowledge of all disciplines. The families in our community need you.

If you would like to nominate yourself or others, please send an email indicating your interest to by November 5.

I am constituting a Task Force on Housing and Food Security

Sept. 22, 2016 - At the suggestion of ASI President Patrick Dorsey and in collaboration with Student Affairs and the Chancellor’s Office, I am constituting a Task Force on Housing and Food Security. The purpose of the Task Force is to expand and bring awareness to the need for social welfare programs on campus while coordinating the varying efforts that already exist here. The coordination will ensure that we are not duplicating services and that our campus is united in providing for the needs of our students.

The Task Force will be organized into subcommittees that focus on specific issues that our students face. No student should be hungry or without a safe place to live, and I hope that, through the work of this Task Force, we are able to start finding solutions to these serious issues.

While we already have several individuals on the Task Force who have done excellent work around food and housing insecurity among our students, I am asking for more volunteers from the campus community. We cannot be successful unless we have broad representation and buy-in. Our students need you. If you would like to nominate yourself or others, please send an email indicating your interest to by October 5.

We must be leaders in giving

Sept. 21, 2016 - It is that time of year when the Hornet Family manifests who we are to the community in which we work and live by giving through the Our Promise campaign. Last year, the Sac State family gave almost $60,000 to local charities, and this year I hope that we can raise $100,000. We are leaders in the region, and we must be leaders in giving. Please join Jody and me in signing up for the Our Promise payroll deduction, showing Sac State’s support of this vibrant and beautiful region.

This year, I will be making a special donation to honor Hornet Don Nahhas's son. Don works in Risk Management, and his son, Josh, passed away from liver failure in August. Their church is raising money in his memory to create backpacks for homeless people in the area and homeless students at Hiram Johnson High School. The Our Promise Campaign allows you to contribute to any 501(c)(3) nonprofit. I will be writing in Winners Church Inc, 3940 60th Street, Sacramento, CA 95820, tax ID number: 46-1577468. Jody will be making her own choices about what organizations and causes to support. I hope that you can find a cause that moves you.

From my heart to yours, I thank you for your generous giving, and I look forward to the impact the Hornet Family will make in the community.

Together we will ensure the success of our students

Sept. 15, 2016 - As part of our effort to strengthen our role as California’s capital university, you have heard me time and again focus on increasing our four-year graduation rates. Not surprisingly, Governor Brown has tasked all CSU campuses with creating plans to improve student success, and Sac State was fortunate to receive $2.6 million to support our efforts this year. But I must note and express my gratitude that much work has already been done on campus as part of the Graduation Initiative 2025.

We all know that every year beyond four years in college leads to extra expenses and, often, debt for our students. Extra years don’t necessarily add up to a better education, and they certainly don’t ensure a secure pathway to a successful life.

Beginning this October, we will be launching the KEYS to Degree Toolbox (Kit to Empower Your Success). As part of the Student Success & Completion Initiative and the “Finish in Four” campaign, the KEYS to Degree Toolbox will connect existing advising tools and debut the newest advising tool – Smart Planner – which will make it easier for students, faculty, and advisors to plan for timely graduation.

This integrated approach will not only support our students and the faculty/advisors serving them but will also simplify their day-to-day interactions. The monumental effort to create the KEYS to Degree Toolbox came from dedicated staff and faculty from across the campus. I am extremely grateful for the hard work of everyone involved; it will make the process of planning, scheduling, enrolling, assessing, and ultimately graduating – quite simply – smarter.

The KEYS to Degree Toolbox will be rolled out in phases beginning in October, with more majors being added throughout the year. I invite you to learn more at the KEYS to Degree website. With a renewed sense of purpose this semester, together, we will ensure the success of our students.

I want to thank Larry Gilbert for his technology efforts on campus

Sept. 14, 2016 - Larry Gilbert, Vice President for Information Resources and Technology and Chief Information Officer, has decided to retire, effective this month. Larry joined Sacramento State in February 2007 as the Chief Information Officer. Due to significant additional responsibilities and an increased focus on the critical role of information technology in higher education, the title of “Vice President” was added in summer 2007.

Before joining Sacramento State, Larry served in senior information technology management roles at Western University; the University of Nevada, Reno; and the College of William and Mary. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and both an Ed.S. and Ph.D. from Indiana University in Instructional Systems Technology and Political Science.

One of the major achievements of Larry’s tenure was the creation of the Academic Computing Resources (ACR) unit in 2007. ACR focuses on supporting students and faculty with the use of technology both inside and outside the classroom. He has been heavily involved in the Accessible Technology Initiative to implement measures to improve the accessibility of websites, instructional materials, and the procurement of information technology. Larry has served as an active member of the President’s Cabinet and has consistently displayed a passion for making technology higher quality and easier to use for everyone on campus.

Larry has been a strong leader on campus, and I want to thank him for his efforts to make our campus more technologically advanced. I wish him the very best in the next phase of his life.

Christine Miller, current Administrator in Charge for Information Resources and Technology, has graciously agreed to step up as the Interim Vice President for Information Resources and Technology and Chief Information Officer. Christine joined Sacramento State in September 2014 from the University of Georgia, where she was the Assistant Dean and IT Executive Director for the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. She brings 20 years of experience working in information technology, academic technology, and higher education.

Christine holds a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in Instructional Technology, and a doctorate in Higher Education, all from the University of Georgia. In her current role at Sacramento State, she serves as the IRT sponsor for Smart Planner, Platinum Analytics, and other student and academic success projects. I look forward to collaborating with Christine as we all work to improve technology at Sac State. A search committee is being constituted for a search for a new Vice President for Information Resources and Technology and Chief Information Officer.

We still need to address salary compression and keep our promise

Sept. 12, 2016 - As I mentioned in my Fall Address, we still need to address salary compression and keep our promise to the staff that we would follow through on the equity program that began last year.

This next phase of the equity program, the second of a three-year plan, will continue to address salary compression issues for the targeted group of staff employees from last year, as long as they are still eligible based on number of years of service in current classification/skill level and current salary in comparison with the targeted percentile of their salary range.

Staff who continue to meet the eligibility because their salaries are below the targeted percentile may be awarded with a permanent raise, on average, of $1,800. As before, some staff 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 may receive more than $1,800 so that we can fulfill the requirements of the collective bargaining agreements.

The effective date for this equity increase will be Sept. 1.

If the campus budget remains constant, we hope to be able to replicate this program for 2017-2018 and provide additional incremental increases of up to $1,800 annually for those who still are below their targeted quartile. 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. (Additional information about the Staff Equity Program can be found on our Human Resources website.)

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

We have a moral duty to be a beacon of light and hope

Sept. 6, 2016 - As a new academic year begins, I want to welcome the newest members of our Hornet Family as well as our returning students, faculty, and staff. With our largest enrollment ever and 41 new full-time faculty on board, we are preparing for an outstanding year here at Sacramento State.

During my Fall Address to the campus, I laid out four imperatives that will be focal points for the coming year. The first imperative is reducing the time to degree for students. In the coming months, you will hear more about the “Finish in Four” campaign to provide incentives to students who sign the pledge to take 15 units. But we must never forget that life and responsibilities often get in the way of education. So let’s all be there for everyone, no matter how long it may take to complete the degree. After all, what we all want is for our students to graduate with a first-rate, highest-quality education.

The second imperative is markedly increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity in our student body, faculty, and staff. Our faculty, staff, and administration must reflect our student body, and our student body must reflect our region. And we must adopt the Hornet Honor Code to ensure that every member of our Hornet Family feels a strong sense of belonging on our campus.

Philanthropic giving is the third imperative. We must significantly increase giving if we are going to double our scholarships and obtain funding for the science building. We all know that money does not grow on trees, and I want to thank University Advancement again for surpassing our fundraising goal by almost $5 million. I see an events center in our future as well as state-of-the-art buildings, labs, and classrooms.

The fourth imperative is community collaboration. By working with our schools and our community, we can significantly decrease the number of students who need to do remedial work, and we can improve the health of our community. We need more college graduates in the Sacramento region, and Sac State can provide them.

We are just a week into the semester, and believe me, I have heard about the troubles with parking. I understand how difficult the situation is, and I wish that I had the perfect solution. I’d like to remind everyone that our remote Ramona parking lot is open and has plenty of spaces available, and that we are running shuttles regularly back and forth from the parking lot. Also, I encourage those who can to use alternative transportation – especially bikes. Construction is starting in the spring on a new 1,750-space parking structure, but if everyone is coming to our landlocked campus in his or her own car, we will never have enough spaces.

I also want to invite the campus to visit the remodeled, virtually new Dining Commons when it opens in mid-September. The Dining Commons will have 10 food stations with different cuisines at each and a diverse menu of new, healthy food options. What a huge improvement since my days of living in the “dorms.”

Finally, as we get closer to the November election and as tensions and passions rise, I ask us to remember that, first and foremost, we are a Hornet Family, and we must respect each other and each other’s opinions. The violence that I see on the news, and the bigotry and hate that I hear deeply sadden me, and I am sure that you are equally affected. We will have many difficult conversations over the next few months, but I believe that the difficult conversations that we have at universities are among the most important experiences in higher education.

Despite our differences, I am asking that we be civil. We can and will disagree while at the same time continuing to care and look out for our fellow Hornets. While our University values freedom of speech, we are committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming campus for all, and that remains our resolve. We have a moral duty to be a beacon of light and hope for our region, our community, and each other here at Sacramento State. I hope that you have a wonderful fall semester. Stingers Up!

With approval of the 2016-17 state budget, I remain optimistic

Aug. 4, 2016 - The Governor recently signed the 2016-17 Budget Act for the State of California. This year’s budget provides the California State University system with $154 million in additional permanent baseline funding beyond last year’s CSU system budget. This additional funding is based upon targeted enrollment growth and will support mandatory costs (including employer-paid benefits and the majority of the increases in faculty and staff salaries), student success and completion initiatives, and other system-wide priorities. More specifically, this allocation supports a total resident enrollment growth of 5,194 additional full-time equivalent students (FTES). For Sacramento State, our targeted enrollment growth is 1.3 percent (292 FTES) for a total of 22,837 resident FTES.

To meet the needs of our faculty, staff, and students, our campus will need to budget resources beyond the targeted 1.3 percent enrollment growth. Hence, for 2016-17, we will be budgeting student fee revenues based on a 1.9 percent resident enrollment growth model, or 427 FTES. With this increase in enrollment, our fee revenue for 2016-17 will be $152,355,000, which, when combined with our state appropriation of $144,684,837, will produce a campus budget of $297,039,837 for the coming year.

Unfortunately, even though we have budgeted student fee revenues beyond the targeted FTES, we estimate that our 2016-17 expenditures will exceed our available resources. Our total projected expenditures are $298,499,825. Because a portion of the faculty and staff compensation increases is not fully funded by the state, all campuses had to self-fund the difference. For Sacramento State, this self-funding of salary increases has created a budget deficit of approximately $1.46 million.

In order to achieve a balanced budget, our projected uses of funds (i.e., projected expenditures) for 2016-17 must match our projected sources of funds – the aforementioned $297,039,837. Although we have tried to mitigate the deficit by budgeting beyond target, reductions will be necessary in order to balance the budget. Therefore, each division will be allocated 1.03 percent less than it was allocated in its 2015-16 initial baseline budget. Because we fully understand that Academic Affairs is a key factor in addressing our “Finish in Four” campaign and in providing sufficient sections for our students, we are allocating $1,000,160 in increased funding for student success and completion initiatives and enrollment growth in order to offset the reduction to Academic Affairs’ baseline budget.

A summary of the University’s final budget for the 2016-17 General Operating Fund is provided on our website.

As for the All University Expenses (AUE), I concur with UBAC’s recommendations. It is important to note that UBAC did not allocate any one-time project funds for 2016-17 from our reserves as it has done in the past. This year, our campus’s central reserves are needed to help provide the funding for the Science II building ($20 million) until donations are secured.

I greatly appreciate the work of UBAC and the Office of Budget Planning and Administration in preparing this year’s budget, and I remain optimistic about our future. We have seen and will rightly continue to see increases in faculty and staff salaries on our campus, and we will continue to work together to support our students and to graduate them on time.

We must come together as a campus to talk about 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 unite to support each other and stop 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

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.

With this new building, we are delivering on our promise downtown

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.

Come together to build the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

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 E

Use this moment to move the conversation to a more beneficial level

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 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.

Helping ensure that Sac State stays in compliance with disability 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 am reopening applications for executive director of diversity

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 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.

If a strike occurs, 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 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.

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.

This university, 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!

We have started the search for a new provost

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 In addition, you may send comments directly to Dr. Newsome at

I look forward to working with each of you

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 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 must 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; or Beth Lesen, Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Support, at 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

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.

Provost Frederika Harmsen has accepted a position as special assistant

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.