top of page

Investiture for Sonoma State President Sakaki

Judy Sakaki became Sonoma State University’s president in July 2016.

ROHNERT PARK — The investiture of Judy Sakaki, Ph.D., as the seventh president of Sonoma State University will be held on Thursday, April 20, at Weill Hall, Green Music Center on the SSU campus, 1801 E. Cotati Ave. in Rohnert Park.

A reception will immediately follow in the Green Music Center’s Trione Courtyard.

Defined as the “act or ceremony of conferring the authority and symbols of a high office,” an investiture is an academic ceremony in which a new leader is “vested” with the official powers of office. Held during a president’s first year in office, an investiture provides an opportunity to welcome a new chapter in a university’s history and celebrate as a community.

The day’s events are as follows:

All day — Exhibit: “I Am Because… Dr. Judy K. Sakaki’s Journey to the SSU Presidency” at University Library Gallery

9 a.m. to 12 p.m. — Mini-conference in Student Center Ballroom, Seawolf Plaza, Library and Art Gallery. A campus-wide event, open to the public, that will feature presentations, discussions, and performances born of campus thinkers and creators around themes of community engagement, sustainability, globalization and diversity.

2 to 4 p.m. — Investiture ceremony at Green Music Center, Weill Hall

4 to 5 p.m. — Campus reception in Trione Courtyard, Green Music Center

7:30 p.m. — Hiroshima Concert at Green Music Center, Weill Hall. Hiroshima, a Los Angeles-based group whose music falls between R&B, pop, world music, and jazz, has long had its own niche. The band — June Kuramoto (koto), Dan Kuramoto (woodwinds, keyboards, shakuhachi), Kimo Cornwell (piano, keyboards), Danny Yamamoto (drums, percussion, taiko) and Dean Cortez (bass) — integrates traditional Japanese instruments into their musical blend.

Free, but tickets are required and can be obtained by visiting the GMC website,

Hiroshima (from left): Danny Yamamoto, June Kuramoto, Dan Kuramoto Kimo Cornwell, Dean Cortez

For more information on the day’s activities, visit

Details of Investiture

Video: “Dr. Judy Sakaki: A Change for Sonoma State” by Brennan Chin, videographer, Sonoma State graduate student

Processional: Sonoma State University Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Alexander Kahn, conductor, Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” by Ludwig van Beethoven

Welcome and introduction of platform party by Dr. Jeri Echeverria, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs

Coast Miwok blessing by Joanne Campbell, elder, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria

Buddhist offering of gratitude: “Kokoro” by Dr. Satsuki Ina, professor emeritus, CSU Sacramento

Taiko performance: “Hachijo,” arrangement by PJ and Roy Hirabayashi, NEA National Heritage Fellows

Greetings from the Sonoma State community by Dr. Ben Ford, chair of the faculty (Academic Senate); Katie Musick, staff representative; Joseph Huang, president, SSU Alumni Association; Emily Hinton, president, Associated Students

Poem: “Sonoma State Rising” by Dr. Kim D. Hester Williams, professor of English and American multicultural studies, Sonoma State University

Greeting from our community by Willie Tamayo, president, La Tortilla Factory

Keynote address: “The Power and Promise of Higher Education” by Dr. Michael V. Drake, president, Ohio State University

Student dance performance: “Surrounded” by Caitlin Colangel, choreographer; James DeSoto, Kyle Her, Anjelica Martinez, Carrissa Pinnix, Katy Waechter, dancers

Investiture and presentation of the Presidential Medallion by Dr. Timothy P. White, chancellor, the California State University

Presidential address: “Dance with Change” by Dr. Judy K. Sakaki, president, Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Alma Mater by Sonoma State University Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Alexander Kahn, conductor, with Sonoma State University Chamber Singers, Dr. Jenny Bent, director. Music by Dr. Brian S. Wilson, professor of music, SSU; words by Dr. Brantley Bryant, professor of English, SSU

Recessional by Sonoma State University Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Alexander Kahn, conductor. “Happy,” words by Pharrell Williams

About Judy Sakaki

Dr. Judy K. Sakaki became Sonoma State University’s seventh president on July 1, 2016. She is the second female president on the campus and the first Japanese American woman president in the nation to lead a four-year college or university. She is a first-generation college student, a product of public education and a graduate of both the California State University and the University of California. She has devoted her entire career to issues of access, affordability, inclusive excellence, educational opportunities and achievement for all students.

Dr. Judy Sakaki

Since her arrival at Sonoma State, Sakaki has reprioritized the academic mission of the university and has focused on student success. She helped SSU achieve eligibility as an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and is developing an Undocumented Student Center as well as a transition center to better support transfer students.

In keeping with her focus on inclusion and opportunity, during her first weeks as president she hosted the largest group of young people in the university’s history when nearly 500 elementary and middle school students visited Sonoma State to experience a taste of college life. The students were from an ethnically diverse, economically challenged area of Sacramento.

Prior to Sonoma State, Sakaki served as vice president for student affairs for the University of California, Office of the President. There she worked on admissions, financial aid and student success initiatives. Before that, she was vice chancellor for student affairs at UC Davis, vice president and dean of students at Fresno State and executive director of Student Academic Services, including the Educational Opportunity Program, at CSU East Bay.

She has taught university classes; managed departments and divisions ranging from 45 to 1,000 employees; and has testified before Senate and Assembly committees regarding financial aid, academic preparation programs, gender equity in athletics and student mental health. She has a strong commitment to vulnerable populations including underrepresented students, undocumented students, veterans and LGBTQI students, faculty and staff communities.

In 2009, Sakaki co-chaired a system-wide faculty and administrative 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 incarceration during World War II. Her maternal grandparents, mother and uncle were held in the Topaz camp in Utah.

Sakaki is a former American Council on Education Fellow, a Millennium Leadership Institute Fellow, an Executive Fellow of the California State University and a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. She attended the MDP/IEM Harvard Management Institutes and was a member of the 2010 Japanese American Leadership Delegation to Japan.

She has received numerous honors and awards. Most recently, Sakaki was honored with the Pillar of the Profession award by NASPA, the national organization of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Sakaki, who grew up in Oakland, graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in human development and an M.A. in educational psychology from CSU East Bay and a Ph.D. in education from UC Berkeley.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page