Sonoma State University is a public, coeducational business and liberal arts college affiliated with the California State University system. The main campus is located in Rohnert Park, California and lies approximately south of Santa Rosa and 1 hour north of San Francisco. Commonly referred to as SSU, Sonoma State, and Sonoma, the university is one of the smallest of the 23 state university campuses in California. The university offers over 65 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and boasts of being the most requested campus of the CSU system.
As enrollment increased, the school built more on campus facilities including Ives Hall for performing arts, The University Commons for dining, a small library, and a gymnasium. These buildings followed the physical master plan of the school which stated that the facilities would be urban in character, defining the use of smooth concrete building façades with landscaped courtyards. Among the landscaping features added with these facilities were the “Campus Lakes”, two small reservoirs located behind the Commons next to Commencement lawn, the site of the university’s annual commencement ceremonies, and one lake near the housing facility, Beaujolais Village. The lakes are home to local waterfowl and have since become an important aesthetic feature of the campus.
In 1969, the academic master plan underwent a major revision as the first master’s degrees in biology and psychology were offered. The new cluster school concept, coupled with an even more heightened appreciation of the rural environment, influenced the new physical master plan. First to exemplify this new plan was the residence facility of 1972 named Zinfandel, a “village” of inviting stucco and redwood structures. The new Student Health Center used a primarily redwood façade with a landscaped ground cover of wild roses and poppies. In 1975 Nichols Hall, was built as the newest classroom hall and named in honor of Sonoma's founding president Ambrose R. Nichols.
Early development of the modern campus came to a close in 1976 when the Student Union was constructed between the main quad and the lakes. This building continued the use of the physical master plan, using primarily redwood and preceding the similarly built Carson Hall, Art building, a childcare center, additional parking, and a computer center which was added on to the library.
In May 2000, the Board of Trustees approved a new master plan, which added 48 acres to the campus. Rapidly accelerated growth of the residential student body was alleviated by the construction of the third phase of on-campus housing named Sauvignon Village, offering housing to non-freshmen students. In the same year, the Jean and Charles Schulz Information center was completed to accommodate the expanded needs of the library and computing services. The state-of-the-art, high technology facility was built as a prototype library and information complex for the 21st century, housing more than 400,000 volumes in its stacks. The center also houses an advanced Automated Retrieval System (ARS) which houses an additional 750,000 volumes in a computer managed shelving system in the library wing. A large portion of the funding to build the information center was donated by Charles Schulz, cartoonist and author of the popular Peanuts comic series, and his wife Jean.
In October 2003, Beaujolais, the youngest of the residential villages was completed, offering another 655 beds to the rapidly expanding student body. The addition of this new village had made Sonoma State the most residential campus in the CSU system housing more students then any of its affiliates. It is anticipated that a new phase of student housing, Tuscany Village, expected sometime before 2010, will bring nearly 700 more beds to the campus This project was approved at the May 2007 meeting of the board of trustees and will bring Sonoma’s number of residential students to 3,100.
To support the current residential population of the campus, a student-financed Recreation Center was completed in fall 2004 and now acts as a social center and meeting place for a large portion of the Student body. Because of the new and innovative recreation center, the university was awarded an Outstanding Sports Facilities Award by the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association in 2005.
In January 2005, the university began the renovation of Darwin Hall, the now 40-year-old science building. The new 21st century building was designed to provide efficient academic classrooms and study areas for faculty and their students. The renovated building was completed and re-opened in fall 2006 and provides new laboratories and classrooms to support the needs of modern science curriculum. Like all new and renovated buildings at Sonoma State, Darwin Hall is a model of energy efficiency.
The new property approved by the board of trustees in 2000 is the site of the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center, funded by private donors currently under construction to be completed in 2010 based on fundraising. A component of the Green Music Center, Music Education Hall, was state-funded, is complete and faculty and staff begin move in during the summer. Students begin taking classes and occupying the building in Fall 2008. The Center has been planned as an architectural ensemble of the finest acoustical quality designed to enhance and emulate the groves, vineyards, and rolling foothills of Sonoma County and the new home of the Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra.
A new social center for the university has been approved with construction to begin in the near future adjacent to the Recreation Center. The University Center as it will be called will be a new home for the campus bookstore, dining hall, administrative space, a conference center, and a movie cinema.
|Presidents of SSU||Years as President|
|1||Ambrose R. Nichols, Jr.||(1960–70)|
|2||Thomas H. McGrath||(1971–74)|
|3||Marjorie Downing Wagner||(1974–76)|
|5||David W. Benson||(1984–92)|
The original buildings of the university and those built in the same style, namely, The Student Union, The University Commons, Evert Person Theatre, and Stevenson, Darwin, Ives, Nichols, and Carson Halls, were all designed to accentuate an appreciation for urban architecture. As such, the buildings are all constructed using mainly smoothed or exposed aggregate concrete with some buildings preferring primarily redwood siding. The residential villages, though they were meant to continue in this tradition, show the first movements away from this plan as they employ stucco siding with terra cotta tile roofs.
Moving further from the original plan are Salazar Hall, the Schulz Information Center, and the Campus Recreation Center. These buildings mark a notable movement toward sustainability and modernized architectural aesthetics as opposed to the smooth concrete buildings of the past that were allegedly designed by an architect known for the designs of several women’s prisons.
The Recreation Center has become a model for sustainability. The center was recognized for a state-of-the-art design that maximizes functional space and demonstrates numerous efforts incorporating sustainable building techniques while using a selection of materials which reflect the surrounding rural county. Sustainable materials include the use of heat and UV ray reflective roofing, recycled rubber indoor track, recycled glass reinforced structural brick, recycled seat belts to upholster seating, and reclaimed water plumbing non-potable water systems. This reclaimed water plumbing makes this the first and largest building in Sonoma county to use such a system.
The Rec Center houses a large gym with fixed weight machines and free weights, a wide selection of aerobic and cardiovascular training equipment, an indoor track, climbing wall, exercise and dance studios, multiple basketball courts an indoor soccer court, billiards tables, locker rooms, massage studio and a spa.
The Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center is one of the largest libraries in the CSU system and the state of California with a 400,000 volume general collection and with a 750,000 volume automated retrieval system capacity. The library opened in 2000 and now stands as one of the largest buildings in the university.
The three story, library is separated into two wings housing different areas on each floor. The building has a total of five acres of indoor floor space and of shelving. There are over 1,000 seats for students to study and an outdoor study patio on the third “quiet floor” where absolutely no talking is allowed for those who prefer to study in complete silence. The library also houses a valued collection of writings and original letters from Jack London, as well as memorabilia relating to his works.
The $41.5 million building is named after Charles M. Schulz, the famed creator of the Peanuts comic cartoon, and his wife Jean who donated $5 million to help build and furnish the structure. An additional $2.3 million went into furniture and equipment. The library is also well known for its mural honoring Cesar Chavez that can be found in the first floor.
The Sonoma State campus blends man-made buildings with the natural plant life of the area. Large redwood trees are visible from nearly all vantage points on campus. Through the middle of the the campus flows Copeland creek which runs in and along the west side of Sauvignon Village, through the schools butterfly gardens, exiting campus near the site of the Green Music Center. The University Lakes occupy part of the north side of campus near the creek and are home to the Grand Willow (sometimes written as Grandwillow). The Grand Willow is one of the oldest trees on the Sonoma State University campus, planted during the original landscaping and development. For many of those in the SSU community, the Grand Willow represents the beginning of Sonoma State's growth from a small and relatively unknown college to the reputable university that it is today. It is for this reason that the tree was given its name, a play on the word Grandfather/Grandmother and befitting of its long life on the campus.
The more than 65 departments and academic programs are divided into seven distinct schools, all offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and courses and nearly all offering minors and doctorates.
In addition to Accreditation the school is also the only California university that is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, the prestigious group of 19 universities and colleges across the nation that are often described as the “Public Ivies.”
The Sonoma State mascot is Lobo the Seawolf, lobo being Spanish for ‘wolf’. The mascot is derived from the Jack London novel entitled The Sea-Wolf in which the protagonist is pressed into service aboard a boat captained by a man named “Wolf”. The mascot was taken from the book for London’s ties with Sonoma County, specifically the nearby town of Glen Ellen. Some resent the fact that the mascot is not a representation of a real animal and sometimes choose to equate it more readily to the Seawolf class attack submarine in the United States Navy.
The previous mascot of Sonoma State University was the Cossack, an eastern European community of fur traders known for superior horsemanship and ferocity in battle. The Cossacks held ties to the area through the 1812 fur trading posts at Fort Ross. This mascot was to be removed in the fall of 2002 by a vote of the academic senate after the mascot was deemed offensive to Jewish and women’s groups on campus. This being due to the fact that Cossacks were reportedly notorious for historically oppressing Jewish people and women.
Various groups and individuals proposed new mascots such as the Rain Devils, Killer Bees, Trailblazers, Blue Wave, Blue Storm, and Condors as well as the Beagles in a nod to local legend and Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz. Ultimately non-binding surveys and the final decision by then president Ruben Arminana favored the Seawolf as the new representation of the university.
Zinfandel and Cabernet Villages are the oldest of the five villages. These dormitories as well as the Verdot Village are intended solely for the housing of freshmen with social buildings such as the cafeteria, Zinfandel Market, and pool centrally located within the Zinfandel Courtyard. Each village is divided into 5 to 7 buildings each of which are divided into suites with rooms and common areas.
Sauvignon and Beaujolais Villages are the two newest dorm villages. Each offers the same suite style dormitories as the older villages with the addition of kitchens in each suite.
Associated Students, Inc. held a protest in March 2006 when the Academic Senate refused to allow them a vote on academic senate agenda items, many of which directly affect the education of SSU students. The academic senate never officially recognized the protest and continue to deny an official vote to ASI though their unofficial opinions and positions are taken into loose consideration in the decision making process. This is considered an oddity in the California State University as the remaining 22 other campuses allow student governments a vote in respective faculty senates and committees on educational issues.
|Name||Known for||Relationship to Sonoma|
|Larry Allen||Former San Francisco 49er offensive guard||Played on now defunct football team.|
|Carl Petersen||Current Kansas City Chiefs President & General Manager||Coached on now defunct football team.|
|Kevin Danaher||author and activist, co-founder of Global Exchange|
|Arthur Leigh Allen||Zodiac Killer Suspect||Biology Major, Chemistry Minor|
|Mike Horner||Film Actor|
|Steven Zaillian||Screenwriter, Academy Award winner for his movie Schindler's List and a nomination for Gangs of New York|
|John L. Davidson||San Diego Superior Court Judge||Major: Political Science|
|Brian Posehn||Film Actor|
ZINFANDEL ADVOCATES AND PRODUCERS ESTABLISHES SCHOLARSHIP ENDOWMENT FOR SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY'S WINE BUSINESS INSTITUTE
Dec 03, 2009; SONOMA, Calif., Dec. 1 -- Sonoma State University issued the following press release: Donn P. Reisen Memorial Scholarship Honors...
SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN TOWN HALL MEETING ON PUBLIC POLICY FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN, ADULTS
May 09, 2007; Sonoma State University issued the following press release: Sonoma State University professor Lorna Catford and students from the...