Biography, Judy K. Sakaki

Professional Background

Dr. Judy K. Sakaki became Sonoma State University’s seventh president on July 1, 2016. She has devoted her entire career to issues of inclusion, educational opportunities and achievement for all students. As president she is responsible for envisioning, planning, managing, and delivering programs and services to ensure student and alumni success.

In keeping with her focus on inclusion and opportunity, in her first weeks as president she hosted the largest group of children in the University’s history when more than 400 elementary and middle school students from the Roberts Family Development Center in Sacramento visited Sonoma State to experience a taste of college life. The RFDC is located in the ethnically diverse, economically challenged area of North Sacramento.

Prior to Sonoma State, Dr. Sakaki served as Vice President, Student Affairs for the University of California system. She has taught university classes; managed departments/divisions ranging from 45 to 1,000 employees; and has testified before Senate and Assembly Committees regarding financial aid, academic preparation programs, and gender equity in athletics and mental health.

Dr. Sakaki has been successful in raising funds to support multiple educational initiatives. Her work in addressing sexual violence and sexual harassment is in consonance with the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act. She has a strong commitment to undocumented students, veterans, and LGBT+ students, faculty, and staff communities.  

In 2009, Sakaki co-chaired a task force to award honorary degrees to approximately 700 Japanese American University of California students who were unable to complete their degree due to their internment during World War II. This marked the first time UC campuses awarded honorary degrees in nearly 40 years.

Dr. Sakaki is a former American Council on Education Fellow, an Executive Fellow of the California State University, and a senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. She has attended Harvard Management Institutes and was a member of the 2010 Japanese American Leadership Delegation to Japan.

Sakaki earned an M.A. in Educational Psychology and B.A. in Human Development from California State University, East Bay and a Ph.D. in Education from UC Berkeley.