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Presidential Communications - 2017

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

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Giving Tuesday was the perfect way to begin the holiday season

Dec. 4, 2017 - The generosity of our alumni, faculty, staff, and community displayed during Giving Tuesday at Sacramento State was a tremendous testament to the heart of our University community. This was our fifth time participating in a Giving Tuesday campaign, and I am pleased to report that we raised more than $80,000 for student scholarships, academic programs, and other important University initiatives – doubling last year’s contributions.

Sacramento State is known for the impact that it has on the lives of our students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. Not only does your support help to ensure opportunities will continue for these students, but it shows them that alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and the community are invested in their success. You have set a wonderful example that will encourage our students to reach back and be engaged as future alumni.

Giving Tuesday was the perfect way to begin the holiday season. I deeply appreciate your support for the Hornet Family, and I wish you happy holidays. Stingers Up!

With our revised budget, divisions will not have to face reductions

Nov. 6, 2017 - With the Governor signing the Budget Act of 2017, the California State University system received an ongoing General Fund appropriation increase of $179.2 million in baseline funding for 2017-18, which includes an additional $5.1 million increase for annual debt service costs for lease revenue bonds. The budget also includes $118.9 million in gross tuition revenue resulting from a tuition increase effective in Fall 2017. This tuition increase was approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2017.

The budget supports a CSU system-wide resident enrollment increase of 2,487 FTES, mandatory costs (benefits and current contract compensation increases), student success and completion initiatives, State University Grants funding increases, and other system-wide priorities. For Sacramento State, our support includes a 1 percent resident enrollment growth of 240 full-time equivalent students (FTES) for a total of 23,077 FTES.

Because of changes in the enacted budget, along with the enrollment growth funding and a re-benching of the campus headcount due to average unit load (AUL) increases, the final budget looks very different from the University Budget Advisory Committee recommendation. Our new state appropriation allocation totals $156,939,837 (including $1.1 million for Education Insights). Our revised projected student fee revenue (adding in $1 million in miscellaneous financial aid) with the increased resident FTES and the re-benching of the headcount will provide $161,860,000. When combining the state appropriation with the anticipated student fee revenue, the campus’s projected sources of funds equal $319,799,837.

We aligned our projected uses of funds (totaling $319,799,837) with the projected sources to achieve a balanced budget for the new fiscal year. With this revised budget, divisions will not have to face reductions; some, such as Academic Affairs, will receive a baseline augmentation. The revised budget will enable units to further student success initiatives and combat existing funding shortfalls. Funding also was established for a university central baseline reserve to be used for campus priorities or emergency situations.

Some important elements of our budget include an increased allocation for State University Grants (SUG) of $2,946,000 for our students, which brings our total SUG pool to $46,783,700 for financial aid disbursements. We also have set aside $1,000,000 for increases (the third year of three installments) for our faculty and staff. Permanent funding of $500,000 was provided to Academic Affairs to be used to hire additional faculty to support student success initiatives as recommended by UBAC.

A summary of the University’s final budget for the 2017-18 General Operating Fund is provided on our website.

After careful review of the All University Expenses (AUE), I concur with UBAC’s recommendations. I would like to thank the members of UBAC for their diligence and dedication to the budget recommendations. It is an arduous and detailed process, and we are fortunate for their efforts. I look forward to our progress over the next year – and Stingers Up!

December 2017 ceremonies will be our final Winter Commencement

Nov. 1, 2017 - Last spring, our Commencement ceremonies moved to the new Golden 1 Center in the heart of downtown Sacramento. We enjoyed six outstanding ceremonies at Golden 1 Center in May, and we are thrilled to be holding our 2017 Winter Commencement there.

We are excited about the opportunities at Golden 1 Center for the Hornet Family, but change requires flexibility. As many know, we had to make substantial changes to the Spring 2017 ceremonies, and we will need to adjust further for this winter. As such, we will continue to revisit our ceremonies and plans, but for the future, we have made the difficult decision to hold graduation ceremonies only in May. The December 2017 graduation ceremonies will be our final Winter Commencement.

I understand that this change will be a big transition for our campus. Sacramento State is alone among the 10 largest CSU campuses in celebrating two sets of Commencement ceremonies each year. The graduation ceremonies are meant to commemorate your achievement, but are not actually required for you to graduate. Regardless of when you walk in a graduation ceremony, you will officially graduate and receive your diploma in the semester when you complete the degree requirements.

Accordingly, students who complete their degree requirements in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, or Summer 2019 will walk in the May 2019 ceremonies. Students completing their degree requirements in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, or Summer 2020 will walk in the May 2020 graduation ceremonies.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming graduation ceremonies, and I am proud to continue our partnership with Golden 1 Center.

Diana Tate Vermeire will lead equity, diversity, and inclusion

Oct. 11, 2017 - I am pleased to announce that Diana Tate Vermeire has accepted the position of Executive Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Sacramento State. Her extensive work on issues of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigrant status, disability, poverty, the criminal justice system, and inequality will be an outstanding asset to us.

Diana joins us from the ACLU of Northern California, where she has served as the Director of the Racial Justice Initiative. She has worked throughout Northern California to advance racial justice and equity across several issue areas. In addition, she has provided advice and counsel to the Executive Director and the management team on issues of equity and inclusion within the organization at all levels to help strengthen its commitment to racial justice and inclusion.

Diana spent four years with the Gable Gotwals law firm in Oklahoma, where she represented clients seeking First Amendment protections and access to information, counseled clients on employment practices and corporate governance, and conducted investigations related to issues of race, gender, and identity discrimination. Prior to that role, she served her first stint with the ACLU of Northern California as the Director of the Racial Justice Project. She directed the work of the project using a combination of litigation, legislative and legal advocacy, public education, and organizing strategies to advance the cause of civil rights for communities of color. She also spent two years with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, working in policy advocacy and community education related to civil rights, including issues of racial harassment, student-to-student harassment, and other forms of discrimination. She began her legal career in November 2003 at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP of Seattle.

Diana graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1997 from the University of Southern California and earned a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. She has published numerous reports and articles on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout her career. She will step into her new role after the Thanksgiving holiday, and I look forward to working with her. Please join me in welcoming Diana to the Hornet Family.

My appreciation goes to the selection committee for its thoughtfulness and dedication to filling this important role at Sacramento State. This search was a university-wide effort, and I appreciate the feedback from the Diversity Council and everyone who took the time to meet with the candidates.

Finally, there are not enough words of gratitude to show my appreciation for the work of Dr. Robin Carter over the past year. Anyone who has had the opportunity to work with her over the past year can attest to the extraordinary progress she has made in establishing the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Sacramento State. For many, this past year has been one of rapid change and uncertainty, and she has played a significant role in helping guide our campus forward. Dr. Carter will return to her role as Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, but we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her good work in this role. Thank you to Dean Fred Baldini for giving us one of this campus’s best to help establish this critical office.

Amid multiple wildfires, we must support one another

Oct. 10, 2017 - As multiple wildfires continue to ravage Sonoma and Napa counties, the North Bay, and other California communities, we must support one another and the people of those areas. Many of us have friends and family who are in the areas affected by these devastating fires, and I hope that you will reach out for assistance if you are in need.

I encourage students who need mental or emotional support to contact Student Health and Counseling Services at (916) 278-6461. If you need assistance with housing or other physical needs, please contact the Dean of Students at (916) 278-6060. Faculty and staff should reach out to the Employee Assistance Program at (800) 367-7474.

If you are trying to contact family or friends in an affected area, the Red Cross has a Safe and Well website where you can search for those in shelters. A list of shelters is available, and CalFire is updating its Facebook page as information becomes available.

We are a Hornet Family, and I hope that everyone will take the time to support and assist those around them who are being affected by these wildfires. I ask that you be patient with those who are directly impacted or who may be assisting family and friends who have to evacuate.

I am calling for a convocation for 50th anniversary of MLK speech

Oct. 2, 2017 - On Monday, Oct. 16, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at Sacramento State. Dr. King spoke on “The Future of the Civil Rights Movement” and encouraged his audience of more than 7,000 to continue their nonviolent civil disobedience to advance the rights and equality of people of color in our country. We are the only CSU at which Dr. King spoke, and it is truly an honor for Sacramento State to be a part of his legacy.

I hope that you will participate in some of the outstanding events planned for this day. At noon in the University Union Ballroom, Tavis Smiley will give a keynote address on “Empathy and Economic Inequality.” The address will be live-streamed to overflow areas throughout the Union.

In recognition of the importance and value of this event, I am calling for a convocation on Monday, Oct. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. All faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to participate, either by attending the keynote address in the University Union Ballroom or watching from one of the overflow areas. In accordance with University policy, classes may be dismissed during a convocation, and students should not be penalized for attending the convocation if their classes are not dismissed. I hope that you will be flexible in allowing our campus community to attend Mr. Smiley’s talk.

We will continue to support each other despite our differences

Sept. 29, 2017 - College campuses have long served as a bastion for free speech, healthy debate, and political activism. As various political and social justice movements sweep across our country, we firmly support the rights of our students, staff, faculty, and coaches should they choose to take part in such activities. While some may not fully understand or agree with the reasoning behind actions taken, we will not restrict the First Amendment rights of those who peacefully protest or speak out. We will not tolerate retaliation against those who choose to peacefully protest, nor will we tolerate retribution aimed at those who choose not to participate in protests.

All members of the campus community are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the University's Time, Place and Manner Restrictions on Speech and Speech-Related Activities policy. In spring 2017 we adopted the Hornet Honor Code, and I hope that the Code will guide our actions and responses as we move forward. Let us continue to support our students by attending their games, events, and concerts. We are a Hornet Family and we will continue to support each other despite our differences.

We will create a campus that is safe and where survivors are supported

Sept. 27, 2017 - As I have said many times, the safety and well-being of our campus community is our top priority. No one ever should be exposed to sexual violence or discrimination. In the wake of new guidance on Title IX released last week by the Department of Education, we are reviewing the new question and answer document to determine how it might affect Sacramento State. We have worked hard to develop fair practices and policies to address sexual assault on campus. For now and the foreseeable future, we will continue to investigate reported cases of sexual violence and discrimination in accordance with our current practices and policies.

I understand that these changes will be frightening for many members of our Hornet Family. We will continue our work to create a campus that is free from discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. More than 90% of sexual assault survivors on college campuses do not report what happened to them, and I stand with many who are concerned that the proposed changes will only serve to increase that number. If you are assaulted or become aware of an assault on another individual, we encourage you to report it or to reach out for support. While it is very difficult to ask for help, you should not have to suffer in silence. You can learn about specific confidential and non-confidential campus resources on our website. The Sacramento State Victim Advocate (916-920-2952) can provide services even if the incident is not reported to the police.

I want to thank the professionals and advocates on campus who work every day to provide support and to ensure that these cases are handled appropriately with care and diligence. We have made significant progress, but our work is not done. We are a Hornet Family, and we will continue our work creating a campus that is safe and where survivors are supported. The fight is not over.

We must continue to protect these valuable members of the Hornet Family

Sept. 5, 2017 - It was with great sadness and frustration that I learned today of President Trump's rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has been vital in allowing young people who came to the United States without documentation to pursue the life they deserve.

America is home to hundreds of thousands of these young people. Their lives should not be destroyed to make a political statement. DACA has been successfully defended repeatedly by the federal government as a constitutionally sound and lawful program. DACA makes sense for our country, and it makes sense for the well-being of the undocumented youth for whom America is home.

In the wake of this decision, we must continue to protect these valuable members of our Hornet Family. We must have the courage and integrity to support our fellow Hornets during this frightening, turbulent, and uncertain time.

As Congress begins its work on a replacement policy, we will continue to share information. In the meantime, I ask that you continue to attend your classes and report to work. The Department of Homeland Security is stating that it will not accept new applications from undocumented immigrants for DACA, but those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire. If your permit expires before March 5, 2018, you will be permitted to apply for a two-year renewal before Oct. 5, 2017. Please be expedient in your renewal if this applies to you. Read the Department of Homeland Security's FAQs on today's decision.

If you need support or you notice someone struggling with despair or hopelessness, please reach out to one of the following campus resources for help:

  • The Dreamer Resource Center
  • Student Health and Counseling Services
  • Full Circle Project
  • College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)
  • The Multi-Cultural Center
  • The Serna Center

Please continue to work with the Dreamer Resource Center during this uncertain time. On Friday, Sept. 8, the Center will host an Open House from 3 to 4 p.m. in River Front Center, Room 1027. I encourage you to attend to learn more about its resources and to support our undocumented student population.

As we shared earlier this year, the Sacramento State Police Department has a policy on Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Campus. If for any reason a student or member of our faculty or staff is stopped on campus by any official asking for information or documentation, please contact the Sac State Police immediately at (916) 278-6000 or by dialing 911 on any campus phone. It is important to remember our students’ right to privacy in their student records through FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

You can find more information about the release of and access to student records on the University Registrar's website or review the CSU Fact Sheet regarding the rescission of DACA.

Video: President Nelsen's message to DACA students

Please join Jody and me in signing up for Our Promise payroll deduction

Sept. 19, 2017 - I am proud to share that last year, the Hornet Family gave more than $66,000 to local charities through the Our Promise Campaign. We showed our commitment to the community by increasing our giving by more than 10 percent. I hope that this year, we can raise $100,000 and be leaders in giving in the Sacramento community. Please join Jody and me in signing up for the Our Promise payroll deduction, showing Sac State’s support for this vibrant and beautiful region.

As I did last 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 last year. Josh’s parents, Don and Dawn, are raising money in his memory through Josh’s Heart to collect items to fill backpacks for homeless people in the area. The Our Promise Campaign allows you to contribute to any 501(c)(3) nonprofit. I will be writing in Josh’s Heart, Inc. with Tax ID # 81-4248036 (Nonprofit Code/Org # 187).

You also can give to the Hornet Family in other ways through the University Foundation at Sacramento State, which provides scholarships to our students. You can donate to the Foundation with Tax ID # 94-3001359 (Nonprofit Code/Org #16016). Through Hornet Athletics, you can provide our student-athletes with scholarships, equipment, and better facilities. You can give to Hornet Athletics through the Hornet Club with Tax ID # 94-3001359. I hope that you can find a cause that moves you to give.

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

Fans will now be able to purchase beer at Hornet Stadium

Sept. 7, 2017 - In accordance with CSU Executive Order 1109, Hornet fans will now be able to purchase beer at Hornet Stadium, beginning with our first home football game on Saturday, Sept. 9. We are offering expanded beverage options in a beer garden-style space at the southeast corner of Hornet Stadium near Gate 4.

We will be working with University Enterprises, Inc. (our concessionaire) to provide the beer to fans who are over age 21 and in accordance with California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations. We are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment during our games, and we will be working closely with our game security and the Sacramento State Police Department to ensure a positive experience for all who attend our Hornet Athletics events.

You can find the full policy on the sale of alcoholic beverages at intercollegiate athletic events. A portion of the revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages will be used to provide appropriate security at events and may be used to support alcohol education and sexual assault education programming through Student Affairs.

I hope that you will join us at Hornet Stadium for our first home football game at 6 p.m. Saturday to cheer on our Hornet athletes. Stingers up!

We will realign Athletics to report directly to the President's Office

July 27, 2017 - The hiring of our new athletic director, Mark Orr, begins the next era for Hornet Athletics. A new hire brings changes and fresh approaches. In consultation with Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Mills, we have decided to realign the athletics program so that it reports directly to the President’s Office.

I am excited about the opportunity to work more directly with athletics. To demonstrate our commitment to athletics compliance and to provide checks and balances, we are keeping our outstanding compliance team reporting to the Vice President for Student Affairs.

I hope to see you out cheering for our Hornet student-athletes this summer and throughout the year at games, tournaments, and matches. Stingers Up!

We must foster a culture of safety inside and outside the classroom

July 17, 2017 - As I have emphasized on numerous occasions, safety must be foremost in our minds when fulfilling Sacramento State’s mission. We must continue to foster a culture of safety, both inside and outside the classroom. Consistent with our commitment to safety, I established a Laboratory Safety Task Force to advise me on the implementation of recommendations made by the UC Center on Laboratory Safety. The Task Force delivered its report to me in May.

In addition to the report, the Task Force accomplished other tasks, including updating the University Chemical Hygiene Plan and the campus Emergency Action Plan. It developed a number of quick-reference documents, met with campus personnel and the Sacramento Fire Department to ensure understanding of response processes and roles, and identified technology as a key component for our campus in the ongoing management of our safety programs. The Task Force also identified stakeholders to be involved in implementation efforts and made a recommendation for a new laboratory safety committee structure.

Many of the recommendations in the report are currently in the implementation process. We will continue moving forward with the remaining recommendations and will do our best to meet the recommended timelines, subject to budget and other time constraints.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the co-chairs of the Task Force, Dr. William DeGraffenreid, Chair of Physics and Astronomy; and Jill Parker, the Interim Senior Director of Risk Management Services. I look forward to our continued collaborations and work to make Sacramento State an even safer place to work and study.

Sac State has been reaffirmed for accreditation for 10 years

July 5, 2017 - It is with immense pride that I announce that Sacramento State received notice last week that the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) has reaffirmed our accreditation for a period of 10 years. Ten years is the longest period for which an institution can be reaffirmed, and I believe that 10 years is a reflection of the outstanding commitment of our faculty and staff to student success.

You can view the full letter, along with the actions, commendations, and recommendations from WASC, on our website.

I am grateful to the individuals who have worked diligently since our last accreditation visit to make such outstanding progress. Thank you to the steering committee, the faculty, and the staff who compiled and completed the information for our report. Our success was derived from a truly campus-wide effort. I look forward to our continued work to refine and improve as we address the recommendations cited in the letter. It is a proud day for the Hornet Family.

Dr. Christine Miller will become vice president for IRT

May 18, 2017 - I am pleased to announce that Dr. Christine E. Miller has accepted the offer to serve Sacramento State as Vice President for Information Resources and Technology, and Chief Information Officer. Christine joined Sac State as Associate CIO in September 2014, and she has served as Interim CIO since September 2016.

Previously, she served as Assistant Dean and IT Executive Director for the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. Christine has more than 20 years of experience in information technology, academic technology, and higher education. At the University of Georgia, she participated in shared governance and partnered with other divisions to achieve campus-wide goals, as well as implementing an eAdvising platform, virtualizing server infrastructure, supporting accreditation, developing paperless workflows for academic and administrative processes, initiating site licenses for campus software, participating in the launch of the office of online learning, and identifying resources to make technology resources and services sustainable.

Christine holds a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in Instructional Technology, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education, all from the University of Georgia. During her tenure at Sac State, she has played a key role in a number of campus-wide projects supporting student and academic success, such as Smart Planner, Platinum Analytics, and the Next Generation Learning Management System evaluation.

I look forward to Christine’s continued leadership of Sac State’s technology strategies and services, and her commitment to supporting students, faculty, and staff with innovative tools for success. Please join me in congratulating Christine on her new permanent role

I have selected Nancy Nguyen to receive the President's Medal

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 Award recipients Jalil Kochai (Arts and Letters), Danielle Saunders (Business Administration), Seth Fujii (Education), Brian Souza (Engineering and Computer Science), Kadina Koonce (Natural Sciences and Mathematics), Aja Johnson (Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies), and Nancy Nguyen (Health and Human Services). Each exemplifies what it means to be a Hornet, and we could not be more proud of them.

From among these extraordinary students, I selected Nancy Nguyen from the College of Health and Human Services to receive the President’s Medal. Nancy’s story begins in Vietnam, which her parents escaped after the collapse of South Vietnam. On their desperate journey, they encountered pirates, endured poverty, relocated to refugee camps in Hong Kong, and eventually sought asylum in the Philippines. After much hardship and a treacherous journey, her family finally landed in California. Her parents worked laborious, low-paying jobs due to their educational background and inability to communicate in English. At the age of 6, Nancy began teaching her father to speak, read, and write in English, which eventually enabled him to start his own business.

It is not surprising that Nancy developed a passion for language and communication that led her to the field of speech pathology. Her experiences and struggles with resettlement have formed her into the person she is today – a person who is committed to serving those in need. She has dedicated her time to volunteering with various outreach programs, including Improve Your Tomorrow, a college preparatory program for young men of color. After working with a student who was in need of better school supplies, she worked with Dr. Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin to start a community drive that secured more than 5,000 items. Nancy not only excels academically; she also leads with heart and a spirit of service to her community. This weekend, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology, and she will return to Sac State in the fall to begin a master’s program in communication disorders.

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 Nancy Nguyen the President’s Medal, and I know that she will continue to make us proud as a member of the Sac State alumni and a graduate student.

On May 16, there will an opportunity to obtain more Commencement tickets

May 3, 2017 - On May 16, there will be an opportunity for students in some colleges to obtain unclaimed tickets to Spring Commencement. At 10 p.m. on that day, students in those colleges will be able to log in and request additional tickets. A message will go out in advance to students that will detail where to go to request the additional tickets.

While I know that this will be a blessing to some students who are able to get additional tickets, I also understand that there will be other students in colleges that do not have extra tickets available who will be left disappointed. I know that each of you wants all of your friends and family to be there to celebrate this most important day.

We are graduating the largest class of Hornets in Sacramento State history – a momentous achievement. With that achievement comes an estimated 50,000 people who will be in attendance over a two-day period. I look forward to seeing you at Commencement and celebrating your graduation day at Golden 1 Center!

Search starts for a new vice president for University Advancement

April 27, 2017 - We have started the search for a new Vice President for University Advancement at Sacramento State. I am pleased to announce the membership of the search committee:

  • Garry Maisel (Chair), Community Member and Comprehensive Campaign Co-Chair
  • Lorelei Bayne, Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance
  • Fred Baldini, Dean, College of Health and Human Services
  • Matt Cologna, President, Sacramento State Alumni Association
  • Mark Orr, Director of Athletics
  • Lisa Woodard-Mink, Director of Planned Giving, University Advancement
  • Antoinette Vojtech, Director of Development, University Advancement
  • Paul Villaluz, Advancement Associate, University Advancement
  • Ken Soto, Development Associate, University Advancement
  • Julian Heather, Chair of the Faculty Senate
  • Jeffrey Dym, Professor, Department of History

The search for a Vice President for University Advancement is an exceptional circumstance. Because of the nature of the position, the need for a strong connection to the Sacramento region, and fundraising demands, I have appointed Garry Maisel, CEO of Western Health Advantage, to chair the committee. This choice may be seen as unusual by some, but I can assure you that Garry’s priority is the interests of the University and our students. We already have raised more than $40 million under his leadership of the Comprehensive Campaign, and we must maintain the campaign momentum.

Garry is a Sac State alumnus who has remained highly committed to our success. Along with Western Health Advantage, he has been a major supporter of the Folsom Hall physical therapy renovation, the Folsom Hall nursing campaign, and the 2015 Green and Gold Gala. He has sat on the planning committee for the Gala, and as noted above, he is currently a co-chair of the Comprehensive Campaign. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014 and is a lifetime Alumni Association member. Tonight, I will be recognizing his contributions and service to our campus with the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service. Garry’s involvement on campus, dedication to our students, and commitment to our Comprehensive Campaign emphasize why I believe that he is the ideal chair for the search committee.

University Advancement is a unique entity at Sacramento State, and finding a Vice President for University Advancement who can lead a division that is in the middle of a Comprehensive Campaign will not be an easy task. I have the utmost trust and faith in Garry’s leadership and ability to successfully lead the search.

I am thankful to each search committee member who has agreed to give his or her time and commitment to serve in this vital role. We will begin the initial phases of the application review process in the next couple of months with a goal of having applicants on campus this fall. I trust that the committee will ensure its work is timely and judicious.

In the interim, Lisa Cardoza, my Chief of Staff, will step in to lead University Advancement. Dr. Cardoza has the experience and knowledge to lead as Interim Vice President for University Advancement, and to continue the division’s important work for Sac State. She recently completed her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. With almost 13 years of experience in higher education administration, she has served in various capacities, including outreach and student success; local, state, and federal grant programs; student affairs; and governmental relations. During her time as my Chief of Staff in Texas, Lisa directly assisted me with donor relations, fundraising, and alumni and community relations.

In Lisa’s absence, Cely Smart, Chief Communications Officer, will serve as the Interim Chief of Staff. I hope that you will be patient and flexible with our office during this transition.

I encourage the campus to utilize the Dreamer Resource Center

March 15, 2017 - In light of President Trump’s recent executive orders on increased border security and stricter enforcement of immigration laws, I would like to remind all students, staff, faculty, and administrators of the resources available at the Dreamer Resource Center (DRC) at Sacramento State to undocumented students and students from mixed-status families. I strongly encourage the campus community to utilize the DRC and familiarize themselves with the center and its multidimensional programming. We must take care of and support one another.

The DRC is designed to help make the dream of a college degree a reality for undocumented students and students from mixed-status families. The DRC offers programs and services that help students overcome the unique challenges that get in the way of achieving academic, personal, and professional excellence. DRC events are open to campus and community members.

Amongst its different services, the DRC hosts ongoing immigration briefings and consultations presented by attorneys from the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CFLAF). The foundation makes presentations on know-your-rights, naturalization, and citizenship; updates on new executive orders; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); and other changes enacted by the new administration. The briefings are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month (March 27, April 10 and 24, and May 8) from noon to 2 p.m. in the River Front Center, Room 1027. CRLAF is available for drop-in immigration legal consultations on the first and third Monday of each month (March 20, April 3 and 17, and May 1 and 15) from noon to 2 p.m. in the River Front Center, Room 1027.

The DRC also offers ongoing Dreamer Ally Trainings, which provide an overview of federal and state policies that impact undocumented students on a day-to-day basis, the unique conditions experienced by these students, activities to better understand the needs of this population, and tools to become allies and ultimately advocates for undocumented students and students with mixed-status families. Attendees receive a Dreamer Ally decal upon completion of the training. To RSVP for the next training on Thursday, March 30, at 2 p.m., please visit https://springdreamerallytraining.eventbrite.com. I highly encourage all staff, faculty, administrators, and students to attend a Dreamer Ally Training.

I also want to remind the Sacramento State community that we are aligned with and committed to Chancellor Timothy P. White’s statement:

“The California State University is committed to being an inclusive and welcoming institution of higher education that is enhanced by our global community. As such, we will continue to make every lawful effort to provide a safe and welcoming campus environment for all of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of our community.

“Our university policy departments will not honor immigration hold requests, and our university police will not contact, detain, question, or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being – or suspected of being – a person who lacks documentation.”

In the event of being approached by federal officials on campus, please contact the Sacramento State Police Department. If approached outside of campus, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides advice.

I again highly encourage students, faculty, and staff alike to become acquainted with the programming the DRC offers so we can all do our part to help support undocumented students and students from mixed-status families. As I have mentioned before, we are a Hornet Family and are committed to ensuring that our undocumented, international, and DACA students can continue their studies without fear. This commitment extends to all of our students, regardless of political persuasion, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, disability, religion, sexual identity, nationality, or documentation status.

As always, we must band together to support one another.

Each student will be allowed to receive nine Commencement tickets

March 7, 2017 - I am pleased to announce that we have selected Golden 1 Center as our Commencement venue. We are excited that this partnership will allow our Hornet Family to experience and celebrate graduation in a setting that showcases the best of Sacramento and has a profound connection to the region.

Last Thursday, we posted preliminary information about the Commencement schedule and ticket availability online. We received many questions and heard from many frustrated students about the limit of six guest tickets for these ceremonies.

Our friends at Golden 1 Center worked with us throughout the weekend to determine how we could create a memorable weekend for our graduates and their guests, while accommodating more visitors. Thanks to the generous team at Golden 1 Center and our nimble Commencement Office staff, I am excited to share that we were able to find a solution that will allow each student to receive nine tickets.

I understand that for some students, this will still not be enough; therefore, the Sacramento State Alumni Facebook page will have a forum for graduates to exchange tickets with their classmates when the ticket reservation system opens on April 10. I encourage you to talk with your friends and classmates, and watch the Facebook page to get more tickets if you need them.

In order to make more tickets available, we have had to rearrange the ceremonies in a different order than what we initially published last week. The schedule has been updated on the Commencement website, and I encourage you to review it again, as your Commencement time and date may have changed.

While we are pleased to offer more tickets, our Commencement Office, as well as my office, has fielded questions about why winter graduates received 12 tickets, yet this spring’s graduates are receiving fewer. Winter Commencement had a total of 2,411 graduates; we are preparing for more than 5,000 in May. The numbers are significantly higher, and we must ensure that every student is able to have guests attend.

I know that many of you have friends and family who already have made arrangements to attend your graduation ceremony, and the news that you will still get fewer guest tickets than expected is upsetting. It was with great difficulty that the University came to this decision, and I believe that you deserve to know how we arrived there.

As many of you know, our last Commencement at Sleep Train Arena was held in December 2016. For the past year, University Advancement has worked tirelessly to find a new venue for our graduation ceremonies. The Commencement Committee looked at Cal Expo, the Memorial Auditorium, the Sacramento Convention Center, Sac State’s Union Ballrooms, Sac State’s outdoor theater, and Raley Field. All of those venues yielded fewer guest seats than Golden 1 Center. The committee also looked into the possibility of holding graduation outside at Hornet Stadium, but with all the rentals, labor, security, and maintenance requirements, the cost far exceeded the budget for Commencement and was higher than the cost of renting any other possible venue. In addition to the concern over potential weather issues at an outdoor event, the committee was concerned that guests in wheelchairs would be on the field behind the graduates and would experience very limited viewing.

With more than 5,000 candidates eligible for graduation in Spring 2017, the ADA-accessible Golden 1 Center is the best option to meet our needs. The Commencement Committee, with representation from across campus, agreed that the most financially feasible schedule would be to hold three ceremonies on Friday and three on Saturday.

We also will be changing the format of our ceremonies to make the program portion shorter. While some universities have made the hard decision, as graduation sizes increase, to stop reading the names of graduates and stop having them cross the stage, we believe that recognition is a vital part of the ceremony for our Hornet graduates. Therefore, ceremonies will be longer than they have been in the past, as there will be more Hornets graduating than ever before.

I know that you have a waited a long time for details about the Spring Commencement ceremonies, but I want to assure you that we have explored every available option in the area to give our Hornet Family the best graduation experience possible. I wish that every member of your family and all of your friends could attend the ceremonies. To allow more guests to participate in graduation, we will live-stream the ceremonies online and host a viewing party on campus in the University Union with complimentary parking for those who are unable to attend at Golden 1 Center.

After the May graduation ceremony, we will continue to modify and review the ceremonies to ensure that we are providing the best experience possible. I want to thank the leadership at the Golden 1 Center for working with us this weekend to expand our ticket availability. Additional tickets would not have been possible without their flexibility and generosity. I look forward to seeing many of you at Commencement, and I appreciate your patience as we adjust to a new location.

We must band together to protect and support one another

Feb. 16, 2017 - There have been and, increasingly, continue to be many reports in the news media, on television, and in social media about the detention and deportation of immigrants. Some of these stories have been verified; many have not. In light of the confusion and uncertainty caused by these stories, I want to share with the Hornet Family the interim policy that outlines Sacramento State’s commitment to creating a safe environment on our campus for all of our Family, including our undocumented students.

At the request of the CSU Chancellor’s Office, we began work on this policy last semester; it reflects the standard practices already in use by the Sacramento State Police Department.

Safety on our campus is critically important, and we are committed to ensuring that our undocumented, international, and DACA students can continue their studies without fear. This commitment extends to all of our students, regardless of political persuasion, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, disability, religion, sexual identity, nationality, or documentation status. We must band together to protect and support one another.

View the policy

Our thoughts are with those affected by this dangerous situation

Feb. 12, 2017 - We have learned that residents of Oroville, Yuba City, Marysville, Yuba County, Sutter County, and Butte County, as well as the surrounding valley floor have been ordered to immediately evacuate the area in anticipation of the failure of the auxiliary spillway at Oroville Dam. If you live in the area, please immediately evacuate as directed by your local law enforcement.

Our thoughts are with the members of our Hornet Family who are affected by this extremely dangerous situation. The utmost priority at this time is their safety and well-being. I ask that in the coming days, we remain flexible and understanding, and that we do everything that we can to help our students, staff, and faculty who are affected by the uncertainty and danger of this emergency.

An evacuation center has been set up at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico. The Elks Lodge in Paradise is also opening its RV park for free to evacuees. Please be safe, evacuate, and, if possible, stay in contact with your professors and supervisors as the situation develops. The Hornet Family stands by to assist in every way possible.

John Volek will join Sac State as interim director of athletics

Jan. 10, 2017 - It is my pleasure to announce that former Hornets head football coach John Volek has agreed to join Sacramento State as the Interim Director of Athletics, effective Jan. 12, 2017. Coach Volek, who led Sacramento State football from 1995 to 2002 and recently retired as the dean of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics at Sierra College, will serve in the position until a permanent replacement has been appointed. I will be naming a search committee whose membership will include campus representatives as well as Sacramento regional business and community leaders. I expect the hiring process to be complete by March.

Coach Volek has deep ties to the region’s coaching fraternity. A graduate of Placer High School, he was recruited to play football at Sierra College from 1965 to 1967. He went on to earn a master’s degree in education in 1972 from the University of California, Riverside. He enjoyed a long football coaching career, with head coaching stints at Walla Walla Community College in Washington state in the mid-1980s, then at Fresno City College, before taking the head football coaching position for the Hornets in 1995. In 2003, he returned to Sierra College to become the dean of athletics. He has been inducted into the athletic halls of fame at Sierra College and Walla Walla.

Our commitment to student success at Sacramento State is unwavering, and that commitment includes a resolve to elevate our Division I athletics programs and achieve excellence across the board, both inside and outside the classroom. The search will be national as we seek to build on our past successes and position our student-athletes to compete and succeed at the NCAA Division I level. In this effort, I am pleased that a stellar member of our Hornet Family, Coach Volek, has agreed to oversee our 21 Division I athletics teams in the interim period. I hope that you will join me in welcoming him back to Sac State.

I would like to thank Bill Macriss for his leadership and passion as the Director of Athletics for the past two and a half years. He will continue to serve on the athletics executive leadership team as the Executive Associate Athletics Director for Operations and Facilities. During his tenure as AD, Bill has focused on upgrading Sac State’s athletic facilities. Recent improvements include resurfacing the baseball and softball fields, installing lights for the baseball stadium, upgrading locker rooms, and adding a new football scoreboard. Bill will continue to focus on enhancing facilities and streamlining operations in his new role.

Bill has been a member of the Hornet Family for 20 years, and during his time as Director of Athletics, the program has seen unprecedented success both on and off the field. In the classroom, the Hornets have achieved their highest grades in school history, with four semesters in a row of a combined GPA of over 3.0. In 2015-16, 173 Hornet athletes earned academic all-conference honors.

Moreover, in the 2014-15 season, the women’s and men’s basketball programs achieved a combined total of victories that was the highest in the school’s NCAA Division I history. And in 2015-16, Sacramento State won the Big Sky Conference Women’s All-Sports Trophy for the second straight year.

In the community, Hornet Athletics worked with Advancement to generate just over $1 million in a grass-roots fundraising campaign, Power of 1,000 Hornets, for a new Event Center. While fundraising has shown improvement in the past two and a half years, we need to ramp up our community support and create transformational change if we are going to truly elevate the athletics program.

Few members of the Hornet Family have demonstrated the passion and engagement that Bill and Holly Macriss have shown during their time here. I am proud of what Bill has achieved, and I look forward to working with him in his continued role in Hornet Athletics.