Education

Sonoma State President Faces Criticism Amid Her Husband’s Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Written by Brock Johnson

Judy Sakaki, the president of Sonoma State University, has been facing growing criticism recently due to her handling of her husband’s sexual misconduct. Sakaki announced on Monday that she and her spouse will be separating. 

Sakaki’s husband, Patrick McCallum, reportedly sent out emails about the allegations to his friends and family which she said were “inaccurate and unauthorized”. Sakaki also stated that she was “disavowing the words and actions of my husband” who is a higher education lobbyist and official volunteer on the Sonoma campus. 

State Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) , who represents the district Sonoma resides in, addressed the issue in a statement stating that the scandal raises “serious questions about her leadership and judgment”. Sen. Dodd expanded on his remarks by saying that he believes the situation is “concerning” and “deserves close scrutiny by the CSU chancellor and board of trustees as to how the interests of students and employees can be best served going forward.” 

This news comes out after an LA Times investigation reported that California State University paid $600,000 to settle a claim with a Sonoma State provost who reported retaliation and sexual harassment allegations involving Sakaki and McCallum. Lisa Vollendorf, the provost, claimed that she faced retaliation after she reported the sexual harassment allegations about McCallum to officials within the chancellor’s office. Sakaki and McCallum both released statements dismissing the allegations from Vollendorf. The CSU system is already facing controversies regarding the handling of sexual harassment after CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro resigned after he mishandled sexual assault allegations against a co-worker while he was president at Fresno State. The FBI also charged former San Jose State athletic trainer Scott Shaw with sexual assault during his 15-year tenure

On Thursday, faculty voiced criticisms at an Academic Senate meeting. A faculty member asked Sakaki whether her husband would continue to attend university fundraising events to which she responded saying she did not have an answer. 

Another faculty member voiced her opinion that McCallum needed to issue an apology to the women he allegedly harassed. The following day he issued an apology statement saying “I want to apologize to anyone who has felt uncomfortable in my presence or through my actions. It was never my intent to act disrespectfully but it’s clear that I made some people uncomfortable. For that, I’m truly sorry.”

It looks as though an apology may not be enough as more people have come out saying they have also reported similar misconduct from McCallum such as a former interim vice president at the university as well as Gordon McDougall, who directed Sonoma State’s University Advancement Division before retiring in 2020. 

Photo Cred: Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat