Sonoma State President Judy Sakaki responds to former SSU provost retaliation claim, reports of alleged sexual harassment by her husband
Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki has issued a statement in response to allegations that she retaliated against a former top university official who reported staff complaints of sexual harassment against Sakaki’s husband, Patrick McCallum.
The statement came late Wednesday afternoon, nearly four hours after the The Press Democrat published a story online detailing how the California State University system paid $600,000 in January former provost Lisa Vollendorf to settle her retaliation complaint. The Press Democrat had sought a response from Sakaki before publishing its story.
The seven-page settlement and the claim that triggered it show Vollendorf accused Sakaki of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment complaints by several female Sonoma State employees against McCallum, a prominent education lobbyist.
In her statement, Sakaki said the retaliation claim was “utterly without basis.” Here is the statement in full:
“Sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in any form are unacceptable on our campus, at the CSU or anywhere, and I take seriously any allegations of this kind of behavior at Sonoma State University.
I am very proud of our work to transform the campus culture into a more student success oriented, inclusive, diverse and safe environment. The record shows that at SSU and throughout my 40+ year career in leadership positions in the California State University and University of California systems I mentored and supported numerous students, staff, faculty and administrators in their career advancement. This certainly included Dr. Vollendorf. Let me be clear: I would not and never have retaliated against any person who raises concerns or questions my decisions. The claims of retaliation are utterly without basis. Out of respect for Dr. Vollendorf’s privacy, I do not feel it would be appropriate to comment further.
I was surprised and saddened to learn of the allegations against my spouse. While no formal claims were filed, the Chancellor’s Office led and oversaw investigation into those allegations, and not SSU or me. Although he denies engaging in any inappropriate behavior, it was important for him and me to learn about these concerns. There have been no complaints since we were informed of the concerns.”
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @pressreno.