SSU Academic Senate Meeting of 17 February 2022

An item was added to the agenda from the floor: “Resolution calling for an Independent Investigation into the Actions of CSU Chancellor Castro as President of CSU Fresno, and for an effective CSU response to prevent future such incidents”.

The Senate spent a good deal of time and energy debating this resolution, waived the First Reading, modified the Resolution a bit, and finally passed the version that is appended at the end of this report. However, it turned out later that on the very afternoon of this meeting, unbeknownst to the Senate, it had already been announced that Chancellor Castro had tendered his resignation to the Board of Trustees, which the Board accepted. A succession plan to replace Dr. Castro was being finalized by the Board of Trustees. Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Steve Relyea, will serve as acting chancellor until an interim Chancellor has been named.

The Board of Trustees also intends to launch an initiative to strengthen institutional culture across the largest public four-year system of higher education and bring CSU to the forefront of Title IX innovation, accountability and response.

Chair Morimoto announced that upon surveying faculty and students the Administration [sic – not the joint Faculty-Administration Commencement committee?] decided that Commencement will be held, as in pre-pandemic times, in person at the Green Music Center at 3 per day on a Saturday and Sunday in mid-May. The issue of getting names pronounced correctly is still a hot-button issue for students, and the Administration continues to try to deal with it.

The next Chair Chat will be on Wednesday 23 Feb from 2 to 3 pm, on the subject of “Interdisciplinarity”.

The EPC is trying to codify the difference between “suspension” of a program and “discontinuance”.

The Chair noted that the fact that the University has budget difficulties is not an excuse for depriving faculty, particularly non-tenured faculty, of fair workloads and salaries.

Finally, she noted that faculty governance is looking into the problem that policies, once decided upon, are often not policed. There must be enforcement, and consequences for violations.

The President’s Report included the following:

            The campus re-opened to mostly on-line instruction on 14 February, and a Ceremony was held to celebrate this event. For most freshmen and even sophomores this might have been their first time on campus. Many of them offered feel-good comments about the opportunity to be present on an active campus. But masks are still required on campus, as is the case with most other CSU campuses.

            Nicholas Christof, formerly a New York Times reporter and until recently a candidate for Governor of Oregon, will be speaking at the Green Music Center at 7:30 pm on 28 February, courtesy of the Andrea Neves and Barton Evans Foundation. A reception will be held in Prelude before the lecture.

            The second Nature Sustainability conference will be held on campus from 5 to 8 April.

            Students for a Quality Education (SQE) is studying the policies and practices of policing on the campus, with regard to joining a nationwide movement to have the functions of police curtailed where other trained professionals could deal with certain crises better.

            The Trustees are meeting today to discuss Title IX (sexual harassment) concerns across the system.

The Provost’s Report included the following:

            SSU has received 13,740 completed applications for the fall, up 553 from this time last year. Tomorrow is the deadline for applications, but late applications can be accepted for any of a variety of authorized reasons.

There have been 452 deposits, up 131 from last year. Housing deposits are up as well. So far there have been 3,146 scholarship offers.

Academic Affairs and Admissions are attempting to make the whole application process more streamlined. One thing that helps to convert more applications to acceptances is to get scholarship and financial aid offers out promptly. Another thing is notifying students as soon as possible of transfer credit decisions, but to some extent SSU is constrained by delays from other institutions as well as testing agencies.

There will be a reception on 23 April for prospective students. Decision Day is 1 May. Faculty are encouraged to participate in the recruitment and conversion process, by contacting high schools, offering to meet with prospective students and/or their families, etc. This is a very effective tool in getting conversions up. (“Conversions” means applicants actually deciding to accept an offer of admission, signaled by paying a deposit. The large majority of those offered admission do not accept it, due largely to having received admissions at other institutions also.)

There was considerable disarray in the Computer Science Department last fall due to the unexpected resignation of two instructors after classes had begun.

The report from the Associated Students included the following:

Student government is trying to help students who are new on campus, who are nervous about being on a campus because they don’t know how to behave, and who don’t yet understand how college differs from high school and how college professors differ from high-school teachers.

Accessibility to course materials for students who are in some way disabled is still an issue. All video presentations offered in classes should have “captioning” engaged, even if no one requests captioning. Students who need captions should not be put in the position of having to disclose a disability publicly. The use of captions is not optional – it is required by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Students are generally happy to be back in classrooms. Many students had difficulty with online learning, particularly low-income students, who had inadequate equipment or inadequate internet access. The dorms, it is reported, have poor internet access.

            Scheduling continues to be a problem for students due to covid restrictions.

            Students believe the University’s Absence Policy needs revisiting. There is a conflict between “Stay home if you’re sick” vs being marked down for an absence. Of course, attendance policies vary widely from instructor to instructor.

Business items:

1.  The Senate considered on a First Reading a proposal to continue to conduct meetings of the Academic Senate virtually via zoom for the 2022-23 academic year. Whether the practice shall continue beyond the next academic year is not addressed.

Several rationales were presented for this proposal. Perhaps the most compelling is that there is no suitable place on campus to hold such a large meeting. Pre-pandemic, meetings were held in the Student Center, but students have requested that the Senate not meet in that building. In any case, student events have priority, so sometimes the Senate was booted from a scheduled meeting.

The remodeled Stevenson Hall will have space for the Academic Senate, including a meeting room of sufficient size to hold faculty governance committee meetings, but with a capacity of about 20 it is not large enough for the Senate meetings, which often have 50 attendees.

Other benefits:

  • Everyone can hear and adjust the sound for their needs. The Ballrooms are

notoriously difficult for hearing clearly or loudly enough.

  • There is less cross talk during meetings. At an in-person meeting, there is often cross

talk, which is not appropriate for a meeting run by Robert's Rules of Order.

  • There are fewer interruptions and disruptions during meetings. People side-talking can be very disruptive, particularly to those near them.
  • There is unlimited room for guests to visit. At in-person meetings, there were typically 5 – 6 guests from time to time. Now we have at least 10 guests per meeting and often more. Having guests attend heightens the transparency of the Senate and faculty governance.
  • Screen sharing allows everyone the ability to see presentations. We had to develop

guidelines for in-person presentations because not everyone could see projected presentations In the Ballrooms.

  • Zoom has live captioning now and is more accessible for a variety of different

abilities. Live captioning was never available for in-person meetings.

  • People do not have to come to campus only for a Senate meeting. This is a

sustainability issue.

  • People can come and go from a meeting without disturbing the meeting. People entering or leaving a meeting in progress can be distracting.
  • The Zoom transcript makes creating the minutes much easier. Creating the minutes

for Senate meetings is one of the more arduous jobs for the Senate Analyst and any help making that easier is very welcome.

The remaining items from the original agenda were passed unanimously and without further discussion:

2.  From EPC: Early Childhood Studies BA - Second Reading

3.  From EPC: Education Minor - Second Reading


4.  From EPC: Discontinuation of Early Childhood Education Certificate

- Second Reading TC 4:00

5.  From EPC: Discontinuation of Concentration in Early Childhood MA

There was a rancorous and fragmented debate over the Resolution regarding the Chancellor, which shall not be detailed here, as it is already moot. The most notable point about this debate is that the body moved to waive the First Reading, against vociferous objections from some members. The vote to waive (which requires a 2/3 majority) was very close – 15 YES against 7 NO.

The tangle of wordsmithing and disagreements over policy which resulted when amendments were allowed by virtue of the waiver was unseemly and ineffective, leaving members and even the Chair confused about what the Senate was considering at any given time. It is a textbook example of why First Readings should generally not be waived, unless there are very compelling considerations of urgency.

-- Submitted by Rick Luttmann


Investigation into Chancellor Castro

Call for an Independent Investigation into the Actions of CSU Chancellor Castro as President of CSU Fresno, and for an Effective CSU Response to Prevent Future Such Incidents

Resolved: That the Sonoma State University (SSU) Academic Senate express serious concern about Chancellor Castro’s judgment and ability to successfully lead the California State University (CSU) given his handling of sexual harassment complaints while President of CSU Fresno; and be it further

Resolved: That the SSU Academic Senate call for an immediate independent legislative investigation into the actions taken by Chancellor Castro and his staff in handling the sexual harassment allegations against Frank Lamas—including providing Dr. Lamas with a “golden parachute” upon termination and a letter of recommendation, allowing him to continue working in other higher education settings—and into CSU leadership, policies, and practices that enabled these actions;

Resolved: That the SSU Academic Senate assert that the admitted actions of then-President Castro perpetuated sexual harassment at CSU Fresno and thereby failed to protect present and future faculty, staff, and students of the CSU; and be it further

Resolved: That the SSU Academic Senate call upon the Board of Trustees and State of California legislature to complete an independent investigation should Chancellor Castro at any point resign during this process; and be it further

Resolved: That the SSU Academic Senate call upon the CSU Board of Trustees to immediately place Chancellor Castro on leave without pay pending the results of this investigation; and be it further

Resolved: That should the independent legislative investigation corroborate the investigative reporting of USA Today and/or find additional evidence of an inappropriate response to this case, the SSU Academic Senate call upon the CSU Board of Trustees to immediately fire Chancellor Castro; and be it further

Resolved: That the SSU Academic Senate urge the CSU Board of Trustees to review and change its processes for handling sexual harassment, as detailed in Chancellor Castro’s letter to the CSU community, to prioritize accountability for acts of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and the protection of faculty, staff and students from sexual harassment, over risk management and the protection of the reputation of perpetrators; and be it further 

Resolved: That the SSU Academic Senate distribute this resolution to:

CSU Board of Trustees
CSU Chancellor
SSU President Judy Sakaki
Chair of the Academic Senate, CSU
California Faculty Association
California State Senate Pro Tempore
Speaker of the California State Assembly
California State Senate Higher Education Committee
California State Assembly Higher Education Committee


On February 3, 2022 USA Today published an investigative report1 surrounding the

handling of sexual harassment allegations against Frank Lamas, former Vice President

for Student Affairs at Fresno State University by then-CSU Fresno President Joseph

Castro. Following a statement made by now-Chancellor Castro about the incident on

February 4, 20222, USA Today published a follow-up report February 7, 2022 detailing a

year-long effort to prevent the release of reports into sexual misconduct and to

pressure those officials gaining access to the reports into signing non-disclosure

agreements3. The California Faculty Association (CFA)4, CSU Board of Trustees Chair Lillian Kimbell5, State Senator and Chair of the Senate Education Committee Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino)6, and State Assembly member and Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee Jose Medina (D-Riverside)7, have called for independent investigations into the matter.

The SSU Academic Senate has serious concerns about Chancellor Castro’s leadership

given the handling of the resolution of the allegations against Mr. Lamas. A golden

parachute, letter of recommendation, and public silence about resolution of the matter facilitate Mr. Lamas’ continuing professional activities that may place other potential

victims of sexual harassment at risk. They also send the message that the CSU is more

concerned about legal liability and protecting the public reputations of its

administrators than justice for the victims of sexual harassment.

Finally, then-President Castro’s actions yet again sweep under the rug the sexist, structural patterns of behavior that continue to negatively affect women in the CSU workplace. Clearly,

current CSU policies and procedures allow for tolerance, reproduction, and lack of

accountability regarding sexual harassment, gender discrimination.

For these reasons, the SSU Academic Senate joins our CFA and legislative colleagues in calling for an independent investigation into this matter, for placing Chancellor Castro on unpaid

leave during the investigation and for his immediate firing should the results of the

investigation confirm the information in the USA Today coverage of the situation.

We thank our CSULA colleagues for providing the template for this resolution.


[1] Jacoby, K. (2022) Fresno State president mishandled sexual harassment complaints. Now he leads all 23 Cal State colleges.  USA Today February 3.

[1] Castro, J. (2022) An Open Letter from Chancellor Castro to the CSU Community.  February 4.

[1] Jacoby, K. (2022) Fresno State stonewalled the release of sexual harassment investigation reports, sought NDA.  USA Today February 7.

[1] CFA (2022) CFA Calls on State Legislature to Launch Independent Investigation of CSU Chancellor. February 9.

[1] This call is stated in the article in fn6; however, she has since made public statements in support of Chancellor Castro; see fn7.

[1] Jacoby, K. (2022) Lawmakers seek investigation into Cal State chancellor's handling of sexual harassment.  USA Today February 4.

[1] McEwan, B. (2022) CA Lawmaker Wants Probe Into Joe Castro’s Handling of Sexual Misconduct Complaints.  GVwire February 4.

Approved by the Senate