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Sacramento State Media Advisory Archive

Media can access advisories shared by Sacramento State Communications that provide details, background, contact information, and links about University news.

Sacramento State and UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber announce Combat U

Jan. 18, 2024 - Sacramento State President Luke Wood and UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber on Thursday, Jan. 18, announced the formation of the first-ever university-backed development program for combat sports. It will provide an entry point for students seeking a world-class education as well as high-level opportunities for combat sports training and competition. The program is a public-private partnership between Sacramento State and Urijah Faber’s Ultimate Fitness.

Combat U – officially Combat Sports and Martial Arts University – will provide a pathway to a university education for participating students, including those from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

The announcement came during a news conference in the Hinde Auditorium in Sacramento State’s University Union. The event, featured Wood, Faber, Sac State Athletics Director Mark Orr, new Combat U director Hector Fajardo, coaches, and students.

The program, open to women and men, is scheduled to fully launch in the Fall 2024 semester, with workouts beginning this February. Faber is Combat U’s program architect and executive coach. Current professional fighters, including those from the UFC, and former world champion kickboxers and professional boxers will serve as coaches. Combat U is intended for participants with all levels of experience, including those interested in working out for a healthy lifestyle or competing at amateur and professional levels.

Combat U will provide professional-level instruction and competition opportunities in boxing, wrestling, muay thai, and jiu jitsu. In addition to creating an educational path, Combat U will be the first collegiate training ground for students who want to pursue a professional fight career in mixed martial arts (MMA) or in that sport’s individual components. The program is open to all who qualify to become Sac State students.

“Combat athletes are some of the most dedicated and focused on the planet, but until now, fighters seeking professional careers have had to put their education on hold to pursue their dreams,” Wood said.

“Sac State, in its effort to be at the forefront of creating academic opportunities for a diverse and engaged student body, will attract, develop, and mentor the brightest prospects from around the world, creating a legacy of champions and building on our legacy of educational accessibility. While students will be fighting for Sacramento State, we will be fighting for them to achieve their educational goals and to create a better life for themselves and their families.”

Faber and Wood developed the idea for Combat U based on students from countries throughout the world who study at Sacramento State and train at Ultimate Fitness. That facility is near the University and is one of the top MMA gyms in the world, serving as home to Team Alpha Male, Faber’s highly respected MMA training program.

“Combat U participants will not only receive elite training, but will be on a strong educational path,” Faber said. “Whether they choose to pursue professional fighting careers or not, they will have the educational background to succeed.”

Combat U programs will be managed through the University’s Department of Athletics in collaboration with Ultimate Fitness. Athletes will receive the same level of safety and sports medicine support as all other University competitive athletes. All participants will be enrolled students pursuing degrees as they receive instruction and training from staff who are experts in their respective disciplines.

“We are thrilled to be offering Combat U to the students at Sacramento State,” said Mark Orr, director of Athletics. “This program reflects our commitment to supporting the holistic development of our students, shaping character, instilling discipline, and building skills that extend well beyond the classroom.”

In addition to utilizing Faber’s championship expertise and facilities, Combat U students will have the opportunity to participate in competitions on campus promoted by Faber’s A1 Combat and streamed worldwide on UFC’s Fight Pass.

Orientation and workout opportunities for current and prospective Sac State students interested in joining Combat U are being scheduled. The first orientation meeting and workout opportunity for students, prospective students, and community members is at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Urijah Faber's Ultimate Fitness gym.

Prospective students who are interested in learning more about Combat U can email Sacramento State’s Athletic department at

Sac State Launches National Institute for AI in Education

Dec. 14, 2023 - Sacramento State today announces a multipronged initiative to advance development and use of Artificial Intelligence. As part of this initiative, the University is launching the National Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Education (I-AI). The institution is one of the first in the nation to support schools, colleges, and universities across the country in the ethical use and application of artificial intelligence in education.

“Artificial Intelligence technology will transform every part of our society so it’s paramount that we’re considering its implications,” Sacramento State President Luke Wood said. “Every futuristic movie – like the 'Terminator' and 'The Matrix' – focuses on what happens when AI goes bad. The only way to ensure the fast-developing technology is properly harnessed for good is to be hands-on in the building of new policy, curriculum, and ethically incorporating AI into the classroom."

Wood appointed Alexander M. “Sasha” Sidorkin, Ph.D., to be Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer. Sidorkin, currently dean of Sac State’s College of Education, will be considered the University’s AI "czar," bringing his extensive AI knowledge to the task of creating a robust institute. Sidorkin is an expert in the use of generative AI to improve education outcomes and address equity gaps in student outcomes. Sidorkin will also set up programs designed to promote moral guidelines and ethical frameworks for students on how to use AI for the good. His latest book “Embracing Chatbots in Higher Education: The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Teaching, Administration, and Scholarship,” will be published in 2024.

“Artificial Intelligence technology is here and advancing rapidly, so we have responsibility as educators to prepare students for the world they will live in, not one from the past,” Sidorkin said. “We have already begun exciting research at Sacramento State about how AI technology is being deployed in the classroom, and we look forward to developing ways to deploy it in the future in a way that is ethical and accessible.”

As part of its larger effort to advance the development and use of AI, the University has initiated the hiring of seven new faculty members in the Department of Computer Science with a focus on AI and quantum computing. The hires will be computer science specialists who can build adjacent tools, such as specialized bots powered by Application Programming Interface (API), and teaching and learning specialists who can develop ways of using the new technology for instruction and student support.

“Sacramento State is the one and only public university in the capital of the state with the fifth-largest economy in the world, and we are acting like it,” Wood said.

About Dr. Alexander Sidorkin (View available photos here)

Alexander M. “Sasha” Sidorkin is dean of Sacramento State’s College of Education. He has made significant contributions to educational theory, philosophy, pedagogy, and higher education leadership. His work is characterized by a focus on the pedagogy of relations, a subject he explored in depth in his 2022 book "Pedagogy of Relation: Education After reform." Sidorkin's scholarship spans multiple areas including the use of AI in education, financial literacy, human capital, and innovations in education.

Sidorkin's scholarship is a blend of rigorous academic inquiry and practical application, making him a thought leader in the educational landscape. His work has contributed to academic discourse and has had a tangible impact on educational practices and policies. His latest book, “Embracing Chatbots in Higher Education: The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Teaching, Administration, and Scholarship,” will be published by Routledge in 2024. For more information, see

Funding secured for new Sacramento State event center

Nov. 16, 2023 - Funding has been approved for Sacramento State to create an events center that will be home for the University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, women’s volleyball and gymnastics teams, and intramural and club sports competitions. It also will be a venue for entertainment, arts and guest speakers.

The event center is expected to be completed and begin hosting events in the fall 2024.

The facility is part of President Luke Wood’s vision to better serve the campus community and to bring the Sacramento regional community onto campus.

Members of the Board of Directors for Union WELL Inc., the nonprofit organization that oversees the University Union and The WELL fitness and health facility, on Nov. 15 unanimously approved a resolution to provide up to $5.2 million from reserves for the project. That money is expected to cover initial estimated expenses for the project. Sacramento State is paying for project design, projected to cost $300,000.

On Nov. 9, Associated Students Inc. (ASI), the University’s student governing body, passed a resolution favoring the project. That action followed ASI receiving a letter from Wood championing his plan to pursue the event center project.

“The (Union WELL) board’s decision demonstrates that we are on the rise,” Wood said. “Sacramento State is the only public university in the capital of the state with the fifth-largest economy in the world, and we are acting like it.

“I’m grateful that the Union WELL board supported our vision to position our University to better support student intercollegiate athletics, club sports, and recreation sports, and arts and culture.”

The project will provide another use for existing space that holds four courts that host recreational and intramural sports. Those courts and their recreational use will remain, but they will be flanked by seating that can be rolled out to and retracted to accommodate larger anticipated crowds for NCAA competition. Seating capacity remains to be determined. New lighting, scoreboards and video boards, and public address system will be added.

The University is partnering with Otto Construction and LPAS Architecture + Design for the design and construction of the facility.

Director of Athletics Mark Orr called the Union WELL Inc. board’s funding decision “a significant step toward achieving the goal of having a new events center on campus.”

“We are grateful for the vision of President Wood and to collaborate with terrific campus partners in ASI and the Union WELL,” Orr said. “This venue will not only benefit Hornet student-athletes, it will provide a space for all students to come together as a community and engage in events that will enhance their college experience.”

President appoints Sac State CFO as administrator in charge to CapRadio

Sept. 30, 2023 - Sacramento State President Luke Wood on Saturday appointed Jonathan Bowman, the University’s vice president for Administration and Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer, to be administrator in charge to CapRadio.

The appointment follows an internal analysis of CapRadio’s finances that projects the University auxiliary will have no financial resources remaining in January 2024.

This finding follows a CSU system audit that revealed significant problems with CapRadio’s financial health, governance, and operations. As a nonprofit auxiliary, CapRadio cannot file for bankruptcy, and any debt accumulated is the ultimate responsibility of Sacramento State, its fiduciary.

Bowman is credited with identifying in 2021 the inconsistencies in CapRadio’s finances that led to the University requesting the CSU audit. He was appointed to the CapRadio board by then-President Robert Nelsen in early 2023. Bowman’s finance and accounting team assumed day-to-day CapRadio financial operations in August.

“I am a believer in public broadcasting and am committed to public media and to seeing CapRadio through this difficult time,” Bowman said. “I look forward to collaborating with interim General Manager Tom Karlo and CapRadio to address the issues identified in the audit, restore public trust in the station, create sound financial practices, and develop a new operating agreement with the University.

“I also believe strongly in preserving CapRadio’s journalistic and programming independence, which has made it a leading source of news in Northern California,” Bowman said.

In a video message on Friday, Wood assured the Sacramento State community that the University’s support of CapRadio “will not undermine our educational mission, our commitment to high-quality instruction, or diminish our capacity to serve our students, faculty, and staff.”

Wood also said he is grateful for the ongoing support of CapRadio donors and community members during this necessary transition.

“This course of action is designed to address and resolve areas of significant mismanagement and lax accountability within the auxiliary that are highlighted in the audit,” Wood said. “We are fighting to save CapRadio, and we must see this through.”

CSU audit of CapRadio

Sept. 27, 2023 - Sacramento State is instituting changes in financial oversight and management for University auxiliary Capital Public Radio (CapRadio) in response to findings from an organizational audit released today by the California State University (CSU) Office of Audit and Advisory Services. The CSU audit reveals substantial problems within the auxiliary, which operates as a popular public broadcasting outlet. Given these findings, operational management of CapRadio will be placed directly under University supervision, while the news and entertainment programming of the National Public Radio affiliate will remain independent.

This course of action is designed to address and resolve areas of significant mismanagement and lax accountability within the auxiliary that are highlighted in the CSU audit.

The findings detail long-standing issues, including a lack of financial and governance processes and protocols, lines of credit and loans secured without campus approval or CapRadio Board of Directors awareness, submission of inaccurate or incomplete financial information to the board, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, external auditors, and the University, and much more. Sacramento State’s financial team recognized discrepancies in financial statements and then-President Robert S. Nelsen subsequently requested the CSU organizational audit.

“I want to thank President Nelsen for requesting the audit last year, adding Sac State’s chief financial officer to the CapRadio board, and for committing the resources necessary to stabilize the station’s operations,” said President Luke Wood, who began his leadership of Sacramento State in July 2023. Nelsen requested this audit in 2022.

“One thing is abundantly clear: We have real and immediate work to do to ensure CapRadio’s financial controls and operational processes are disciplined, sound, and transparent going forward. The financial implications of CapRadio’s mismanagement have significant consequences for Sacramento State, but we will make it through,” Wood said.

“Now is the time for the community to continue its support for CapRadio. Given the changes the University and CapRadio board are putting into place, donors should feel confident moving forward that their generous contributions will be well stewarded.”

Although Sac State holds CapRadio’s broadcast license, what began as newsroom independence has evolved over the years into an organizational divide that must be remedied, Wood said. The University and CapRadio Board will work collaboratively to address the issues raised in the audit.

In August, at Wood’s urging, the board appointed Tom Karlo to serve as interim general manager of CapRadio. Karlo has 47 years of experience working in public media and expertise in addressing financial challenges. In addition, the president and his leadership team have developed and will work with CapRadio to implement a five-point plan to stabilize the station’s management, finances, and operations:

  1. Sacramento State will move the operational management of CapRadio under University supervision, including a forthcoming permanent general manager and several upper-management positions. A new chief content officer, who will oversee station programming, will remain an auxiliary employee, ensuring CapRadio’s journalistic independence.
  2. Sacramento State will oversee and manage CapRadio’s accounting department, endowment, and finances to ensure the auxiliary remains in compliance with CSU financial policies, procedures, and state law.
  3. Sacramento State will require CapRadio to rotate auditing firms on a biennial basis to ensure the auditing process remains unbiased.
  4. Sacramento State has commissioned a forensic examination to determine the origins and causes of CapRadio’s operational and financial problems.
  5. Sacramento State will require CapRadio to adhere to the auxiliary license and operating agreement, which requires the station to uphold its educational mission to benefit Sac State students.

President Wood acknowledged this is a difficult time for the organization’s staff and members.

“We are fighting to save our auxiliary,” Wood said. “CapRadio has been part of the fabric of Sacramento and northern California for decades. It is important to us to maintain the health and integrity of such a valuable and beloved media institution.”

The audit report can be found on the CSU website.

Contact University Communications with questions regarding this advisory:

Brian Blomster, Director of News and Communications,, (916) 278-3835

Lanaya Lewis, Public Information Officer,, (916) 217-8366

Fall Address, first-time Convocation kick off back-to-campus activities

WHAT: It’s a unique year for Sacramento State with the appointment of President Luke Wood and the start of what he believes will become a tradition.

Residence hall move-in days, Wood’s first address to the campus community, a Convocation for incoming students and their families, and a big party all are part of the run-up to the first day of the fall semester on Aug. 28.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, about 1,300 freshman, transfer and graduate students will arrive at the Harper Alumni Center to start their move into the North Village housing community. They will be greeted by the Sacramento State Marching Band drumline and cheer squad as they embark on their new journey as a Hornet. Residence hall move-in will continue Aug. 24-25, with over 2,000 students occupying on-campus housing units.

Wood, who became Sac State’s ninth president on July 16, will give his Fall Address at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 24. After his presentation, he’ll be interviewed by his wife, Sac State alumna Dr. Idara Wood, using questions submitted by members of the Sac State community. A press conference will follow at 10 a.m.

The Convocation, which will include two ceremonies, will stand as a formal welcome to participants. It will celebrate the momentous step in the students’ academic journeys while introducing them and their supporters to Sac State’s institutional values. To seal their commitment, students will pin their loved ones and be pinned in return. Wood and other campus leaders will appear in full academic regalia for the event.

The Convocation is booked to capacity, with an expected attendance of more than 800 for each ceremony.

On Friday, Aug. 25, move-in activities will continue for returning students, followed by the official school kick-off celebration, Hornet Nest Fest, 6-8 p.m. in the Housing Quad. Registered participants will be welcomed with food, games and music.

The first day of the school-year begins Aug. 28.


  • Wednesday, Aug. 23, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.: Move-in day at North Village residence halls, with check-in at the Harper Alumni Center.
  • Thursday, Aug. 24, 9 – 10 a.m.: Fall address at University Union Ballroom, followed by press conference at 10 a.m. in the Union Lobby Suite.
  • Thursday, Aug. 24 12 – 1 p.m., 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Convocation ceremonies in University Union Ballroom.
  • Friday, Aug. 25, 6 – 8 p.m.: Hornet Nest Fest in the North Village residence hall quad.
  • Monday, Aug. 28: First day of instruction.

AVAILABLE BROLL (Credit, Sacramento State):



Noted public broadcasting exec Tom Karlo appointed CapRadio interim GM

Aug. 9, 2023 - The Capital Public Radio Board of Directors on Tuesday, Aug. 8, appointed Tom Karlo as the organization’s interim general manager. He is to begin work at the NPR Member station on Aug. 15.

Karlo has a long record of success in public broadcasting, leading KPBS in San Diego to prominence through innovation, growth and platform integration. Serving as general manager of KPBS from 2009 through 2020, he oversaw significant growth, adding weekly television newscasts and digital news to its radio content. When Karlo retired from KPBS in 2020, the organization boasted more than 30 platforms, including four television channels, 89.5 FM, and several social media channels.

He has worked at all levels of public broadcasting, including production, operations, business and finance and fundraising.

“Tom is a distinguished professional with an impressive background in public broadcasting, and he shares our deep commitment to CapRadio’s public mission,” said Andrea Clark, board chair at CapRadio. “We are confident in his ability to lead the organization during this time of transition.”

Karlo comes to CapRadio at a time of transition, filling the position previously held by Jun Reina, and as CapRadio anticipates completion of its new facility in downtown Sacramento. CapRadio is a Sac State auxiliary and operates under the University’s broadcasting license. (KPBS has a similar licensing relationship with San Diego State University.)

CapRadio is also making operational adjustments to strengthen processes and streamline finances. Sacramento State is providing budgeting and financial support during the transition.

Karlo’s leadership has spanned public radio and public television. He has served on the PBS Board of Directors, Public Television Major Market Group and the California Public Television Board of Directors. He was honored in 2016 as PBS Development Professional of the Year, twice was named one of the top 500 business leaders in San Diego, and led a three-year capital campaign that raised nearly $70 million, according to KPBS.

“Throughout my 47-year career in public media, CapRadio was a guiding light for all of us in California, keeping us informed on what was happening in state government,” Karlo said. “It’s an honor for me to have a chance to serve as an interim general manager as the Board of Directors looks for a permanent leader and makes sure that CapRadio continues to provide quality, fact-based, trusted, unbiased journalism and high-quality music and arts programming, to not only the community of Sacramento and Northern California, but to the entire state.”

Sac State alumnus J. Luke Wood will be the University’s next president

WHAT: Alumnus J. Luke Wood, Ph.D., will be Sacramento State’s next president, CSU trustees announced today during their regular monthly meeting.

The new president will take over July 16 upon the departure of Robert S. Nelsen, who is retiring after eight years as Sac State’s top administrator.

Dr. Wood will become Sac State’s ninth president since its founding in 1947.

He comes to Sac State after serving as vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity at San Diego State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree (Black History and Politics) and first master’s (Higher Education Leadership) from Sacramento State. He earned a master’s of Education and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Arizona State.

Dr. Wood will lead a University that has significantly focused on equity and inclusion, developing a sweeping Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Action Plan. Student enrollment and retention also remain high priorities for the University and CSU as a whole. Sac State has been among a handful of CSU institutions that continue to meet enrollment targets.

“President Nelsen has done an incredible job in increasing graduation rates and creating a sense of community at Sac State,” Dr. Wood said. “So, it’s really about furthering the good work that’s been done around student success, diversity and inclusion, and seeing how we can further continue those trajectories to continue to be even better every day.”

An extensively published author, Dr. Wood has done significant research on racial inequality in education, particularly community colleges. He has co-authored four books on leadership of colleges and organizational change.

“I’m a scholar, so I greatly value scholarship and high-quality teaching,” he said.

Trustee Diego Arambula, chair of the Sacramento State Presidential Search Committee, called Dr. Wood a “champion for access, educational excellence, and student success.”

CSU Trustees on Wednesday also announced their appointment of Steve Perez as Chico State’s new president. Perez, a former Sac State provost, replaces President Gayle E. Hutchinson, who is retiring after six years.

Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee, who was Sac State’s vice president for Administration and Business Affairs/chief financial officer from 2010 until 2018, and served in several other administrative roles, was named Sonoma State University’s president. He had been that university’s interim president since August 2022.


  • Alumnus J. Luke Wood will become Sacramento State’s next president
  • Sac State web page for J. Luke Wood


Guy West, 1947-1965
Robert Johns, 1966-1969
Otto Butz (acting), 1969-1970
Bernard Hyink, 1970-1972
James G. Bond, 1972-1978
W. Lloyd Johns, 1978-1983
Austin Gerber (acting) 1983-1984
Donald R. Gerth, 1984-2003
Alexander Gonzalez, 2003-2015
Robert S. Nelsen, 2015-2023

Sept. 21, 2022: Party kicks off 75th Anniversary celebration

WHAT: Sacramento State is celebrating 75 years of academic excellence, student success, and community engagement with a party for the Hornet Family on Thursday, Sept. 22, the anniversary of the first day of class in the inaugural year of 1947.

Beginning at 10 a.m., students, faculty and staff will gather at the Main Quad outside of Lassen Hall for a birthday party that will feature music, entertainment, speakers, information booths, and cake and cookies.

Following those festivities, the campus community will gather for the yearly “Swarm” photo, an image that will include hundreds of members of the Hornet family.

Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, Sac State will feature various events and celebrations, culminating with a 75th Anniversary gala during spring 2023.

“Our growth over the past 75 years has been tremendous, not just in the size of our campus or the number of students that we serve, but also in the diversity of our student body,” President Robert S. Nelsen said.

“What has not changed in 75 years is our focus on being a student-centered University, and on being Sacramento’s University.”

Sacramento State officially opened on Sept. 22, 1947, with 235 students, most of whom were soldiers returning from World War II.

Since then, Sac State has become a powerful force in the region and beyond, with more than 31,000 current students and an extensive alumni network.

A record 9,435 students earned their degrees from Sac State last year. Focused efforts including the University’s “Finish in Four” and “Through in Two” graduation initiatives are helping more and more Sac State students to what is considered on-time graduation.

Additionally, U.S. News & World Report this year ranked the University No. 14 in the Western United States for helping its students achieve social mobility. In 2021, the publication ranked Sac State the fourth-most diverse Western university.

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 22.

10-11:30 a.m., 75th Anniversary celebration in the Main Quad outside of Lassen Hall.
5:30-7:30 p.m., free College Night in the University Union for anyone interested in learning more about Sac State or any of the CSU’s 23 campuses. Information will be available about applications, financial aid, and much more.

PARKING: Media parking for the 75th Anniversary celebration is in the designated lot in front of the Welcome Center.

STORY: Campus party kicks off year of celebrations for Sac State’s 75th Anniversary

VIDEO: Welcome back campus, fall 2022


CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh, PIO,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 20, 2022: LECS program receives significant funding boost

WHAT: Sacramento State’s innovative Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars’ (LECS) program will receive $850,000 in state funding to be presented at the University at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Assemblymember Jim Cooper will formally present the funds, which will provide needed training support and equipment for the LECS program.

LECS is an educational and professional partnership that works directly with local and state law enforcement to prepare students for careers as peace officers. Students who enter the program come from various majors and backgrounds and do not have to be Criminal Justice majors to participate.

“These funds are a positive endorsement of the LECS program’s student-centric success at Sacramento State,” said Shelby Moffatt, LECS director and Criminal Justice professor.

“The funding will allow the program to increase student participation, expand the number of partnering law enforcement agencies, and continue to provide professional development and cultural competency training to help heal our communities."

The LECS program partners with the Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, and the Elk Grove Police Department to help create pathways to paid law enforcement positions within the community.

“I am very encouraged by this year’s budget and especially proud of the investments the Legislature and governor passed to support workforce development,” said Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), who sought and secured the funding in the 2022-23 state budget.

“Funding for LECS will be vital for helping youth entering careers in law enforcement and prepare them to better serve their communities throughout our region. I am humbled and proud to support our future leaders in law enforcement.”

In addition to providing funding for equipment and operating expenses, plans for the grant money include a state-of-the-art mental health simulator with which students can practice various activities, enhancing ethical decision-making, and situational awareness skills needed in law enforcement.

WHEN: 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Welcome Center.

PARKING: Members of the media are asked to park in the visitor spaces in front of the Welcome Center.

WHO: Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen; Assemblyman Jim Cooper; Greg Shaw, associate dean, College of Health and Human Services; Dr. Shelby Moffatt, professor and LECS founder.

RELATED STORY: LECS marks five years of preparing law enforcement professionals

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh, PIO,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 16, 2022: Confronting crimes, impact through Restorative Justice

WHAT: A grant-supported program is bringing incarcerated felons face to face with Sacramento State graduate students and Criminal Justice professors working to instill in inmates a clearer understanding of their crimes and the impact they had on victims. The goal is to reduce the likelihood that the crimes will be repeated and, ultimately, to provide victims an opportunity to heal.

Called Restorative Justice, the work takes place at California State Prison, Sacramento, commonly known as New Folsom Prison. Weekly workshops are in the prison gym and place educators and students with participating inmates. They discuss not only offenses committed and the damage they caused, but also inmates can confront and manage stress and anger that could lead to committing further crimes.

Some participating inmates eventually will meet with the targets of their crimes. The meetings, set upon a victim’s request, expose inmates to tough questions about their motives and behaviors. Discussions sometimes turn to how the crime continues to disrupt the victim’s emotional and mental health or financial status.

Katie James, chief of the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), says that survivors can “give full voice to all they endured, and those responsible for the harm are given the chance to hear and understand the impact of their actions.”

A CDCR grant of $396,000 funds the program, overseen by Criminal Justice department Chair Ernest Uwazie and Professor Alexa Sardina.

Jessica Mai-Duc, a graduate student in Social Work, is part of the Restorative Justice effort.

“A lot of people come out of prison worse than when they went in,” Mai-Duc says. “I want to be part of the solution, creating some healing and making a difference.” 

WHO: Sacramento State Criminal justice faculty, and graduate students; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; inmates from California State Prison, Sacramento (New Folsom Prison); subjects of crimes and/or their families.

FUNDING: Sac State’s program is funded by a $396,000 grant under CDCR’s Victim Offender Dialogue program.

PROJECT LEADERS: Sacramento State – Ernest Uwazie, Criminal Justice department chair; Alexa Sardina, Criminal Justice assistant professor (both available for comment/interviews). CDCR – Katie James, chief of the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services.

PHOTOS: These are images from a Restorative Justice session in early August at California State Prison, Sacramento (New Folsom Prison):

Graduate student Jessica Mai-Duc speaks to inmates.

Inmates and facilitators interact in the prison gymnasium.

Inmates wishing to be part of the conversation wait to be called on.
An inmate listens to conversation during a Restorative Justice session.

Professor Ernest Uwazie, head of Sac State’s Restorative Justice program, speaks to the gathering of inmates and facilitators.

Photo credit: Sacramento State/Andrea Price

RELATED STORY: Sac State restorative justice program works to make a difference in the lives of inmates, victims of crime

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh, PIO,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 13, 2022: ASI President Salma Pacheco focuses on student support

WHAT: Salma Pacheco acknowledges the strong family and cultural influence as she plans to execute her agenda as Associated Students Inc. (ASI) president, the leading position for student leadership at Sacramento State.

Her term, and that of the ASI Board of Directors, one of the most diverse student leadership teams in the University’s history, gains momentum with the start of the Fall 2022 semester, which coincides with the celebration of Hispanic Serving Institutions Week, Sept. 12-16.

Sacramento State gained HIS designation from the U.S. Department of Education after Hispanic/Latinx students surpassed 25% of the University’s total student population in 2013.

Pacheco and the board’s main priorities include student advocacy, and mental health issues, along with finding and developing ways to help students find jobs after graduation.

She is a Political Science major who plans eventually to work in “the Building,” her term for the state Capitol.

“I knew I was made to come here to affect the change that students need,” Pacheco said. “Not every student advocates for themselves, not every student feels they have a voice, and I know I have a very strong voice to advocate for them.” 

AVAILABILITY: ASI President Salma Pacheco is available for interviews to discuss Hispanic Service Institutions Week and Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), as well as other student and University issues. Contact: University News and Communications, 916-217-8366 or

HISPANIC SERVING INSTITUTION: Sacramento State, which has one of the most diverse student populations of any university in the western U.S., has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution, boasting a Hispanic/Latinx student population of 36.6%.

The University’s work on behalf of those students also has been honored with the Seal of Excelencia, presented by Excelencia in Education in 2020 for its “unwavering commitment to intentionally serving Latino students, while serving all.”

New ASI president embraces leadership, family, and advocacy for Sac State’s diverse student body

Images of Salma Pacheco, ASI president

Photo credit: Sacramento State/Andrea Price

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 12, 2022: Student Kenya Burton earns CSU's top honor

WHAT: Kenya Burton, Sacramento State student and Salinas Youth Poet Laureate, is among this year’s recipients of the California State University (CSU) Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement.

Students from each of the 23 universities in the CSU system are chosen for the award each year.

Burton, a Communications student, was born and raised in Salinas where she endured a childhood marked by abuse and her father’s mental illness and alcoholism.

She and her two sisters experienced hunger and poverty and, after their father’s violent episodes, often found solace in streaming horror movies.

“My mom always has this saying: ‘Make the ugly things beautiful through art,’ ” Burton said. “So, I would always write everything down.”

This exercise led to a passion and gift for writing poetry. Her work has won the New York Silver Key Scholastic Arts Award and last year, she was named Salinas Youth Poet Laureate.

“I am deeply impressed by Kenya’s perseverance and her dedication,” Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen said. “She not only has excelled in her studies; she has used her poetry to heal herself and others and has turned difficult and painful life experiences into a passion for helping others.”

AWARD: The Trustees’ Award provides donor-funded scholarships to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need. Burton’s award provides $12,000 to her.

WHEN: Honorees were recognized during a ceremony in advance of the CSU Board of Trustees’ Sept. 13-14 meeting in Long Beach.

STORY: Trustees’ Award winner Kenya Burton has found poetry in a life of hard challenges

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh, PIO,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 9, 2022: Free diapers a boon to student-parents, community

WHAT: The Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Children’s Center at Sacramento State has partnered with the Sacramento Food Bank to become a federally funded National Diaper Distribution site, giving away free diapers to help ease financial burdens on families.

Sacramento State students and any Sacramento County residents with young children can receive up to 50 free diapers a month, sizes 3 through 5.

The diaper distribution site opened on Sept. 2 and has already distributed more than 1,800 diapers.

“People are struggling because of inflation and have to make some very serious choices between feeding their children or taking care of their diapering needs,” said Sherry Velte, ASI Children’s Center director.

She said providing diapers is a “tremendous service” to student parents.

The Sacramento Food Bank became a national diaper distribution site in July 2021 and works with six other organizations in Sacramento County to provide diapers.

CONTACT: For more information about the diaper distribution site, interested participants may call (916) 278-6216 or email

WHEN: The ASI Children’s Center diaper distribution site is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.

STORY: ASI Children’s Center distributes free diapers to student-parents, Sacramento County families

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 7, 2022: Exhibit shows 1860s-1980s fashions, their impact

WHAT: The University Library Gallery’s new exhibit, “Dressing Sacramento: 120 Years of Fashion,” features the public’s first glimpse of the Sacramento State Costume Collection from the 1860s through the 1980s and beyond.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 8 and includes pieces that take visitors through the Civil War, Roaring Twenties, World War II, the turbulent 1960s, and the ‘80s, among other times, before ending with outfits created by Sac State students in 2019.

Paired with archival photos of local people and places, the exhibit puts fashion into historic, social, and cultural context.

“It’s a hidden treasure,” said Professor Dong Shen, Fashion Merchandising and Management (FASH) program coordinator.

“There are so many stories and so much history embedded in those pieces. We have a responsibility to present them to a bigger audience,” she said.

VISUALS: The collection includes a Civil War-era mourning gown, an intricately beaded “flapper” dress from the 1920s, lace gloves, pillbox hats, purses, shoes, jewelry and more.

WHEN: “Dressing Sacramento: 120 Years of Fashion” runs through Oct. 8. A reception will be 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, with opening remarks at 6 p.m. The University Library Gallery is open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon - 4 p.m. Saturday.

STORY: Library Gallery exhibit shows 120 years of how Sacramentans dressed – and the social impact of those fashions

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

Sept. 1, 2022: Study shows support for tax to fund homeless services

WHAT: A new poll by Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) shows that a majority of respondents throughout the region would support a tax increase to fund more services for those experiencing homelessness.

Nearly 1,950 residents in Sacramento, Sutter, Yuba, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties participated in the poll.

Across the region, 18% of respondents would “strongly” support a tax increase to create permanent city and county initiatives to reduce the homeless population, and an additional 37% would “somewhat” support an increase.

More than half of the respondents within each of the counties (with the exception of Yuba) reported that they would support such an increase.

“We are addressing a real community issue,” said Shannon Williams, ISR’s executive director.

“I live in the urban core of the city, and I see it on a daily basis. It’s something that is visible to all of us.”

The institute’s survey also found that most residents would prefer that the government offer help to individuals who are homeless, rather than clearing out encampments and other places where they live unsheltered.

In addition, more than half of the region’s residents reported seeing encampments and other signs of homelessness nearly every day.

WHEN: The poll was conducted in May 2022 to align with the annual Point-in-Time homeless counts implemented in each county. The most recent count revealed that 9,278 people in Sacramento County were without shelter on a given night, a 67% jump compared to the previous tally in 2019.

STORY: Sac State research shows a majority of Sacramento-area residents support more taxes to help the homeless

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

Aug. 24, 2022: Fall semester move-in days, fall address, welcome events

WHAT: The Sacramento State 2022-23 academic year begins on Monday, Aug. 29, as the University prepares to welcome students and faculty back to campus.

Student enrollment at Sac State remains stable, bucking the national trend of a declining college-going rate. About 31,000 students are registered for fall 2022, within 2% of fall 2021 registration.

The number of students moving into campus housing also reflects an excitement to live and learn at the University.

“We will have a population of 3,200 students for the 2022-23 academic year. That is maximum capacity,” said Samuel N. Jones, executive director of University Housing Services. “I think students are really ready to be back in person and back in classes.”

About 80% of students are scheduled for at least one class with a face-to-face component, an increase from around 60% last fall.

Sac State continues to follow federal, state and CSU Chancellor’s Office safety guidelines for COVID-19, including a mandate for all North Village residence hall students to test upon arrival.

WHEN: Events kicking off the 2022-23 academic year include:

  • 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25: President Robert S. Nelsen’s Fall Address to the University community in the University Ballroom and streamed online.
  • 1-6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25: Move-in day at North Village residence halls, with check-in at the Harper Alumni Center.
  • 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26: Move-in day at North Village residence halls, with check-in at the Harper Alumni Center.
  • 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26: Hornet Nest Fest in the North Village residence hall quad, welcoming more than 6,000 students with food and music.
  • Monday, Aug. 29: First day of instruction

Story: links:

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

Aug. 16, 2022: Sac State nursing student hailed as a hero

WHAT: Vanessa Soltani, a Sac State nursing student and ROTC cadet, is being credited for helping save the lives of nine service members injured in a lightning strike last month in Georgia.

Soltani was participating in a summer internship at Fort Gordon’s Eisenhower Army Medical Center when, on July 22, she found herself responding to 10 patients who were struck by lightning during a field training exercise.

One soldier died from his injuries despite 45 minutes of intensive efforts by Soltani and her colleagues, but she quickly offered her assistance treating the nine other patients with serious injuries.

“Being able to respond to a mass casualty was quite an experience,” Soltani said.

“It was all new to me, and it definitely confirmed that I’m on the right path; this is what I am supposed to do in life.”

First Lt. Eric Owens, who supervised Soltani during her internship, said he never hesitated to call on her when tragedy struck.

“I knew she would be a resource to us,” Owens said. “She was confident and competent. She knew what she was doing. She represented the Sac State Nursing Program and the Army Nurse Program very well.”

Soltani is scheduled to graduate in Spring 2023. Her dream is to work in an emergency room or intensive care unit while also serving in the Army Reserve.

WHEN: The lightning strike incident took place the morning of July 22 at Fort Gordon military base in Georgia.

Story link: Sac State nursing student hailed as hero for her work during mass casualty event

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

Aug. 9, 2022: Housing funding to aid Project Rebound student transition

WHAT: A grant and money provided by Sacramento State will allow the University to purchase a home where participants in Project Rebound will continue their journey from incarceration to college life.

Project Rebound is part of a statewide network of programs that support the higher education and successful reintegration of students who have been incarcerated.

The grant, $550,000 from the Project Rebound Consortium, is being matched by $275,000 each from Sac State auxiliary University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI), and the office of President Robert S. Nelsen, resulting in $1.1 million for the property’s purchase and operation.

The home will serve some of Project Rebound’s most housing-insecure students, providing them with holistic, healing, student-centered housing and wraparound support to facilitate their academic success.

Priority will be given to students who demonstrate need, promise, and a willingness and capacity to contribute to a supportive, inclusive, and diverse community.

“This house will make a real difference in the lives of formerly incarcerated people and their families,” said Trish Morris, executive director of the campus program.

“Our Rebound Scholars overcome more barriers than most to achieve their academic goals,” she said. “Every semester with every new cohort of students, I draw hope from watching them shatter stereotypes, misconceptions, and preconceived notions about people who have been incarcerated.”

UEI soon will begin searching for a home to purchase, ideally with four or more bedrooms and near campus with easy access to public transportation.


Project Rebound, launched in 1967 at San Francisco State, now has satellites on 14 CSU campuses, last year enrolled 566 students, and conferred 492 degrees since 2019.

Project Rebound came to Sac State in 2015 and serves 50 to 60 students each year.

Fewer than 1% of the project’s students return to prison compared to an overall recidivism rate of 46 % among California inmates.


Grant-funded home to help clear path for students coming to Sac State from prison

Project Rebound at Sacramento State

Project Rebound at CSU

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh, PIO,, (916) 278-2806

July 14, 2022: Hundreds of K-12 students introduced to Sac State

WHAT: Sacramento State will welcome more than 600 kindergarten through high school students on Friday, July 15, for a day on campus to learn about the benefits of pursuing a college education.

The field trip to Sac State begins at 9 a.m. at Hornet Stadium and is part of a summer program through the Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC), an organization in North Sacramento that offers support services to families from traditionally underserved neighborhoods.

“This field trip is an opportunity to expose our kids to the culture of a four-year institution located in our city,” RFDC director Derrell Roberts said.

“We want them to know about the resources that are available to them within Sacramento. We’re trying to show our kids that this is a place for you, this is an opportunity for you to succeed.”

The students’ visit will begin with a welcome rally led by Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen and Athletics Director Mark Orr before they separate into grade-specific groups for campus tours and activities.

“As an anchor university, Sacramento State’s direct, deliberate community involvement, especially with the youngest members of our community, is at the heart of all that we do,” Nelsen said.

Sacramento State continues to make strides in helping students reach and complete college in a timely manner. The University’s four-year graduation rate has climbed significantly since 2016, and 9,435 students graduated in 2022, Sac State’s highest-ever total.

WHEN: 9-9:30 a.m. – welcome rally at Hornet Stadium; 1:15-2 p.m. – Sac State Planetarium show; 2:15-2:45 p.m. – science museum visit in Sequoia Hall; 3-3:30 p.m. – tour of The WELL.

WHO: Sacramento State, Roberts Family Development Center, more than 600 K-12 students.

RELATED STORY: Top U.S. education official finds Sac State graduation rate success ‘inspiring’ and a model for others

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

July 13, 2022: TV is next for Sac State prof's comic hero, 'Long John'

WHAT: Sacramento State English Professor Dan Bethel expects to soon see the comic book series he created, Long John, come to life as an animated television show on FX.

Still in the early stages of development for TV though actor Chris Pine’s Barry Linen production company, the Western-themed comic series came to Bethel in a dream in 2002.

“It was about this huge cowboy wearing long johns acrobatically shooting guns from behind a rock,” Bethel said. “I woke up and drew it.”

After years of refining, Bethel published his first Long John comic in 2014.

The series follow Long John Walker, a bounty hunter and the deadliest gunfighter in the West, who wakes up on the edge of Mono Lake wearing nothing but his long johns, a stripped-down cowboy robbed of his companions, guns, and clothes.

Bethel, who calls himself a “comicker,” is a rarity in the comic book world because he writes and draws his own work. He starts by sketching storyboards on his iPad, before drawing and inking panels by hand on his grandfather’s old artist table. He scans those images into his computer, where he adds color.

The animated series is expected to take a deeper dive into the Long John storyline to explore the cowboy mythos and examine what it means to be an American.

WHO: Dan Bethel, English professor, Sacramento State.


"Long John," English lecturer’s indie comic book, is on track to become TV series

"Long John" website

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806

July 8, 2022: Planetarium shows first images from deep-space telescope

WHAT: The Sacramento State Planetarium is partnering with NASA on Tuesday, July 12, to release what are expected to be dramatic and unprecedented images of the universe taken by the new James Webb Space Telescope.

In a 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. public event, the Planetarium will display on its 2,500-square-foot dome the first images from the world’s most powerful space telescope. It was launched in December 2021 and orbits the sun 1 million miles outside the earth’s solar orbit.

Sac State astronomers will be on hand to describe the images and answer questions, which is free and open to the public.

“The information that Webb is collecting could offer the first-ever evidence of signs of life elsewhere,” Planetarium Director Kyle Watters said. “This incredibly sensitive instrument can pick up tiny little changes in the atmosphere that can signal previously undiscovered life forms. It’s extremely exciting.”

NASA this week released a list of cosmic objects for which the telescope has captured images. They include galaxies, nebulas, and a giant planet outside Earth’s solar system known as WASP-96 b, 1,150 light years from earth.

WHEN: The open house event is scheduled for 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, in the Sacramento State Planetarium in the Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex.

PARKING: Media parking is in the designated lot between the Tschannen Science Complex and Hornet Bookstore. For the public, parking closest to the Planetarium is Parking Structure 2.

WHO: Planetarium Director Kyle Watters. Sacramento State Physics and Astronomy professors will be available for interviews. Led by NASA, in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies, Webb is an international collaboration involving hundreds of scientists and thousands of volunteers.


Sac State Planetarium partners with NASA to show first deep space images from James Webb Telescope

Showing of first deep space images from NASA’s James Webb Telescope draws nearly 1,000 visitors to Sac State Planetarium

James Webb Space Telescope

Sacramento State Planetarium

CONTACT: Anita Fitzhugh,, (916) 278-2806