November 9, 2022
Dear Campus Community,
And so, we meet again, presumably out of the proverbial woods with fire season officially at an end, but with winter already moving in with rain and wind and colder weather. This past month has been predictably busy, not only with the daily operations of a major university, especially with our current budget issues, but also with meetings, events, and tours I have had the privilege of attending.
Given the several hundred people who attended the November 3rd Budget Forum, I know you share my concerns about SSU’s future and the difficult path ahead in planning and innovation. As I shared at the meeting, we are working to mitigate a number of complex factors that have brought us here, and if we are going to emerge the polished jewel of a campus I know we can be, it is really time to focus on what we can do, rather than what already happened and all the things we feel we can’t do. I know that can be a difficult shift in thinking, especially since it may not seem like any significant movement has already occurred, but as you heard in the Forum, we have already made some substantial decisions that make this year workable, with an understanding that we need to stay agile and proactive in shaping our own future, to the extent possible.
Looking toward the future, I had several extremely productive meetings this past month, including with Petaluma School Superintendent Matthew Harris and Assistant Superintendent Tony Hua; and Kim Mazzuca, Executive Director of 10,000 Degrees, an organization that focuses on building educational and life success for students from low-income backgrounds. You may remember that back in in August we announced that SSU is receiving a grant for the Department of Education Talent Search Program for more than $565,000. This program identifies and assists individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education, and we are fortunate to work with a number of non-profit educational partners, like 10,000 Degrees and the K-12 schools, to widen and smooth the pipeline for more of our many talented students, who might otherwise not have the opportunity to go to college. I never forget my own gratitude for this opportunity and will always see it as a privilege to work on behalf of the next generations.
Speaking of future students, I had the pleasure of attending Preview Weekend, Family Weekend, and the Wine Business Institute Reception. I also attended the Teagle Award Reception at the SSU Art Gallery and the Music and Theatre Arts & Dance Scholarship Showcase at the Center for Performing Arts, noting again just how enthusiastic and talented our students – and our prospective students – are. We just have so many wonderful assets and qualities at SSU, from the School of Education, to the University Library, the School of Arts and Humanities, and the School of Business & Economics – all of which I toured recently and found both impressive and alive with positive energy. The Provost and I also visited the Anthropological Studies Center, including the Archaeological Collections Facility, providing a sound reminder that we all make our mark on this place, whether our tread is hard and punishing or measured and conscientious of all the others who have and who will walk along the same paths.
All of us are visitors here, whether our sojourn be as short as a few years or as long as a career, and we all make a difference, as future historians and scientists will undoubtedly uncover and study someday. As I was having lunch recently with some of the Emeritus faculty, I was thinking about how both the past and the future of learning at SSU really depends on all of us, and our sense of stewardship and connection, both to each other and to our campus as a physical space. And speaking of our campus space, please be sure to take a virtual campus tour with our brand new interactive map. This is an innovative feature, and one we hope will more adequately share the appeal of our Seawolves learning community.
In the next several weeks, we will likely all be busy with upcoming holidays, and all of the ups and downs they can bring. Please be kind to those you know and meet along your own paths, and remember that the holidays can be a true challenge to those who are food or housing insecure, or who have other issues that make these weeks more difficult than uplifting. Thank you for continuing to help each other, and for helping me to continue to deepen my understanding of and appreciation of this wonderful campus. I remain grateful for all of the opportunities this year brings.
Mike Lee, Ph.D.