Sonoma State welcomes three new cabinet members and 19 tenure track faculty

Sonoma State University has started the academic year with a number of new top officials, including a provost, chief financial officer, and a new head of the Green Music Center. 

After a year of using interim hires, Sonoma State President Judy K. Sakaki added permanent and official members to her staff for the upcoming school year. She introduced Sonoma State’s new provost, Lisa Vollendorf, during the convocation on Aug. 21. “Dr. Vollendorf stands out for her strong commitment to students and faculty,” Sakaki said, “and for her admirable track record overseeing a large and diverse college in a collaborative and inclusive manner.” 

Vollendorf was a Spanish professor at CSU Long Beach and, since 2012, had been the dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts at San Jose State University before replacing interim provost Dr. Jeri Echeverria at Sonoma State University on July 1.

“I chose to come to Sonoma State because I am deeply committed to making a difference in public higher education,” Vollendorf said. “We have the potential to be educational and thought leaders as the only public liberal arts institution in California.” 

Sakaki also used the Convocation to introduce Chief Financial Officer Joyce Lopes, who previously served in the same position at Humboldt State University for five years. 

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Lopes said she will focus her efforts on easing the financial strain some students experience while attending a four-year university. 

“I’m very committed to the California State University system to provide residents with access to affordable education,” said Lopes, who started on Aug. 14, replacing interim CFO Stan Nosek.

For the upcoming school year, Lopes said she is interested in aligning budgets and having a strategic plan to support President Sakaki. New Green Music Center Director Jacob Yarrow previously worked for the past eight years as a programming director for Hancher Auditorium, the main performing arts center of the University of Iowa. “The opportunity to work at Sonoma State University was very exciting,” Yarrow said, “because the GMC is a wonderful facility with the ability to engage people across campus with artistic experiences.” 

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Yarrow succeeds Zarin Mehta, the former president and director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, who had held the Green Music Center director position since 2013. Yarrow said he islookingforward to meeting Sonoma State students and faculty and coming up with an effective strategy for the Green Music Center. 

At the Convocation, Sakaki also announced the hiring of an additional 19 new tenure track faculty members for the upcoming school year. According to Sakaki, the new faculty is more diverse, including more women and people of color than previously employed in those positions. 

“Dr. Sakaki and I already have a tremendous partnership,” Vollendorf said. “We believe we must put students first at all times, and to do so we must also find ways to support our faculty and staff.”