The congratulations I offer here, to the Sonoma State University Class of 2020, are probably the most sincere congratulations I have ever offered in my life. I extend heartfelt expressions of gratitude to all Arts & Humanities students, faculty, and staff who rose to the challenge of the current public health crisis with innovation, flexibility, good humor, continued high standards, love, a commitment to education, and humanity.
For the last two months, on a daily basis, I have been proud of the amazing work of our students, who have been determined to succeed in their chosen major(s). What marvelous videos, performances, scholarship, essays, literary and poetic works have emerged! Congratulations for the unexpected things you have done as well as the expected things – doing the expected in unexpected circumstances can also be heroic.
To all A&H students, including our new Class of 2020 graduates, I say: please stay in touch! Let us know what you are doing and what we can do to support you. And please, change the world.
To all A&H faculty I say: I have been proud of all of you in achieving the impossible, bringing dance classes, art studio classes, musical ensemble classes, and theatre ensemble classes online for students to act and interact with each other in intense and profound ways. I have seen first hand in Zoom meetings the continuation of intellectual debate, analysis, and collaborative research across the school. Thank you for your commitment to excellence.
To all A&H staff I say: I have been proud of all of you in leading and supporting remote engagement across the board to ensure we have the resources so that students can remain connected to faculty (and each other), faculty to chairs (and each other), chairs to the administration—in short, to ensure all individuals are connected to each other.
I offer a special thank you to our A&H Department Chairs who have led their departments with such grace and aplomb: Stefan Kiesbye (English), Kim Hester-Williams (American Multicultural Studies), Ron Lopez (Chicano & Latino Studies), Christine Renaudin (Theatre Arts & Dance), Ed Beebout (Communications & Media Studies), Jennifer Roberson (Art & Art History), John Palmer (Music), Jeffrey Reeder (Modern Languages & Literatures), Stephanie Dyer (Hutchins), and Andy Wallace (Philosophy).
I would also like to thank my extraordinary Dean’s Office colleagues Leigh McTaggart, Linda Eichhorn, and Tai Russotti for keeping the School of Arts & Humanities on a steady course with outward facing excellence throughout this storm and Vikki Del Rosario for keeping us well-masked and healthy.
And to all incoming Sonoma State students I say: Welcome! Thank you for joining us. Please know that we will be doing all we can do to provide an extraordinary Arts & Humanities education that transcends the current challenges and enables you to flourish, grow, learn, produce, comprehend, and create.