Dean's Farewell Message 2022

May 18, 2022
Hollis Robbins

Congratulations to the Class of 2022 and thank you to all Arts & Humanities staff, students, alumni, and faculty for a successful 2021-2022 academic year! I am a little melancholy as I say farewell to an extraordinary community dedicated to creative and scholarly excellence in the arts and humanities at Sonoma State. Over the past four years I am most proud of having encouraged outward facing excellence. We have enjoyed spotlighting so many varied and pathbreaking accomplishments.

Thank you for the opportunity to teach Sonoma State students, most recently my excellent poets in ENG 418, poetry workshop, where we discussed Robert Hayden’s poetry and your own.

I have loved the opportunity, as Dean of Arts & Humanities, to experience and marvel at the creativity of our students, staff, and faculty across the school. The job of a dean is usually described as providing leadership and vision in order to accomplish particular goals, including delivery of an academic program and hiring excellent faculty and staff. The dean is supposed to fundraise and advocate and recruit and steward, all of which I endeavored to do and do well. I think about these verbs, which all involve the active doing of things. During Covid the key verb was ‘pivoting,’ as doing things became doing things online. New verbs included checking-in and saving the chat. Little did I know that saving the chat would be an important aspect of providing leadership and vision, as I could follow up on requests and ideas that emerged during lively conversation.

Saying farewell has been eased by the experience of engaging with so many of you virtually, over distances near and far. The School of Arts & Humanities is in excellent hands with Jenny Bent still serving as Associate Dean and Ed Beebout taking the helm as Interim Dean. I have been grateful to build on the leadership and vision of former A&H Dean Thaine Stearns, including his lasting legacy of putting together a dream team of Dean’s office leadership: Tai Russotti, Linda Eichhorn, and Leigh McTaggart. The School is in excellent hands.

I thank our A&H Department Chairs and Program Directors for leading with grace and dedication over the past four years. Congratulations to the winner of our 2022 Arts & Humanities Teaching Award to the amazing Noelle Oxenhandler. Congratulations to the winner of our 2022 Arts & Humanities Legacy Award to Christine Renaudin. Thank you to Talena Sanders for leading the initiative to create a Cinematic Arts & Technology major. Thank you to Kevin and Rosemary McNeely for foundational support for our film program. Thank you to Erica Tom and Janet Hess for leading the initiative to create a Native American Studies major. Thank you to Greg Sarris and the Tribal Council of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria for supporting our NAMS program so generously, and for their important mandate: “Sonoma State University has acknowledged you are on our land; we would like the university on our land to be excellent.”

Thank you,