Sonoma State President Judy Sakaki, who has been embroiled in controversy over her leadership amid campus sexual harassment and revenge scandals involving her and her husband, announced Monday that she is stepping down.
The announcement marks the latest outcome in criticism of how California State University investigates and resolves complaints of sexual harassment and workforce retaliation on its 23 campuses – a controversy that rocked CSU’s leadership and led to the resignation of its chancellor in February.
In recent weeks, California State University paid $ 600,000 to provoke Sakaki and her husband, Patrick McCullum, to settle a lawsuit with Provost over allegations of retaliation and sexual harassment. Leading higher education lobbyist.
The provost, Lisa Volendorf, alleged that she had faced retaliation from Sakaki, her boss, after she reported allegations of sexual harassment to top officials in the patriarch’s office about McCullum, the case records show.
Sakaki and McCullum had earlier told the Times that they had done nothing wrong. Sakaki refused to retaliate against Volendorf, declaring the allegations “completely baseless.”
Sakaki faced a revolt from faculty on his campus that received 173 to 105 votes in favor of the motion of no confidence in his leadership. The results prompted local statesmen Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Mike McGuire (D-Heldsburg) to announce that “Sakaki must resign for the greater good of the university.”
On Monday, senators issued a statement welcoming his resignation decision, saying it would allow the state community in Sono to begin the healing process and focus on the university’s main mission – its students. Time is running out. There are many situations where women have been harassed, threatened and retaliated against. We urge the Incoming Chancellor to make this clear issue his top priority and change in advance so that we can all believe and restore trust. “
In Sonoma, the state has announced that Sakaki’s resignation will take effect on July 31. The university said Sono was the second woman to be appointed state president and the first Japanese-American woman to serve as university president in the nation.
“I am deeply concerned about the state of Sonoma and believe that this choice will allow the campus community to move forward in a timely manner,” Sakaki said in a statement.
Sakaki, who is paid an annual salary of $ 324,000, is a veteran higher education administrator who was appointed state president of Sonoma in 2016. She is entitled to receive payment for one year. Controversial CSU program Top officials show records to help them “transition” after they leave their posts and qualify for a tenure faculty position at the university’s School of Education.
University faculty leaders said in April that the Times had revealed allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation, spreading frustration over whether Sakaki could effectively lead the campus, which has experienced a significant drop in student enrollment in recent years and high turnover among senior administrators. . .
After Sakaki sent an email to friends and family calling it “wrong and unauthorized,” Sakaki announced her separation from her husband. The emails, some of which were sent to The Times, criticized the media coverage of Volandorf and the scandal.
The Times also reported on how parts of Sonoma’s largest art collection donated to the state were destroyed at the president’s home during the deadly 2017 Wine Country Firestorm. Following the tubs fire, tensions arose on campus over the display of additional artwork at Sakaki and McCallum’s private residences. , According to the legal settlement record reviewed by the Times, was not “within the customary deployment” of the university’s art collection.
An employee who reportedly visited the couple’s home several times to evaluate how and where to hang the art reportedly made McCullum feel uncomfortable, describing him as a “dirty old man,” a “pervert” and a “scary”.
Another Times report details how Sakaki chose not to discipline the vice president after an investigation concluded that he had made inappropriate touches to women and made unnecessary sexual remarks while working on another CSU campus. Sakaki said she talked to the vice president for student affairs about her expectations – an act that frustrated two women who accused top officials of misconduct and questioned why she was not disciplined.
Anger over how the country’s largest four-year public university system handles similar allegations prompted Chancellor Joseph I. Castro to resign in February amid criticism that he handled allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and revenge involving a senior campus official when he was president of Fresno. State University. As part of the deal, the former campus vice president received कडा 260,000 and a letter of recommendation from Castro, alleging harassment.
Former Chancellor Timothy P. The agreement, authorized by White, sparked public outrage and prompted trustees overseeing the system to order a review of how Title IX complaints are handled on each of the 23 campuses.
The Times investigation detailed Volandorf’s reports to the CSU about the allegations against McCallum. Although not a CSU employee, McCullum was an official university volunteer who attended campus events with his wife. Volandorf is a longtime administrator of higher education and was recently appointed president of the Empire State College at New York State University.
Vollendorf told the CSU General Council in December 2018 that three women – including two campus staff – had accused McCullum of talking about her sex life, running her fingers through a woman’s hair and making “inappropriate personal remarks” about her presence during the party. At his home, according to settlement records, Provost’s attorney filed with system officials.
The women, who reported the allegations to Volendorf because they worked for him or knew him, described the behavior as “scary,” “disgusting” and “obscene,” the record said.
The Times investigation revealed that Vollendorf provided CSU officials with the names of three women and three others who said they had seen such behavior.
Cal State officials admitted they did not launch a formal investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment and instead spoke with Sakaki about the allegations against her husband.
He said the former CSU title IX officer interviewed three people – two complainants and a clear witness – about the allegations. One person refused to be interviewed. CSU officials said the interviewers refused to proceed. Authorities have denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking to The Times on condition of anonymity, the two complainants said the fear of losing their jobs and damaging the president’s reputation had prompted them not to move forward. One complainant stated that she later told the Title IX officer that she believed Sakaki had avenged the claims against her.
A former interim vice president of the university told The Times that he had reported similar allegations against McCullum to General Counsel Andrew Jones on behalf of his staff in 2019, but no one had followed him.
Before retiring in 2020, Gordon McDougall, who heads Sonoma State’s University Advancement Division, said he changed his schedule to prevent women on his team from working with McCullum on campus after complaints of inappropriate touches and comments.