Welcome! I am thrilled to join Sonoma State University as the new Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.
This June, just after moving into my new home in Petaluma, I met my next door neighbor, who introduced himself as a graduate of Sonoma State. Excellent, I said. What do you do now? He replied that he was a police officer. Excellent, I said again. What was your major at SSU? I assumed that he would say criminal justice. I was wrong. “English,” he said. Excellent! I cried out. Tell me more! What classes did you take? What did you like?
“I liked almost all my classes,” he laughed. “I remember one about Robin Hood and another one about pirates.”
“Ah, outlaws,” I noted, and he grinned, as delighted as I was at the description. “I guess you’re right” he said.
It occurred to me as we stood chatting about his path from undergraduate English major to law enforcement that in a perfect world, every police officer would major in the humanities or the arts in college. All would have a solid grounding in the human condition—in our strivings and our frailty, our zealousness and capacity for mercy, our limitations and our infinite variety, how we represent ourselves to ourselves in image, language, movement, melody, mimicking and metaphor. All would know how to be more like a Sherlock Holmes and less like a Javert; how to think more like Errol Morris and less like Procrustes; how to approach the world more like Harriet Tubman and less like Madame Defarge.
“Mostly I have no problem writing good reports,” he added, breaking into my reverie.
“Excellent,” I said again. Indeed, with ten departments, thirteen majors, several minors, three master's degrees as well as skill-based certificates, we offer an education in the arts and humanities that is intellectually rigorous, vital and practical. “I’m going to write about you,” I said, and now I have.
So I invite you to explore what we offer in the School of Arts and Humanities. You will find that our faculty are passionate about their teaching, scholarship and artistry. Their passion inspires our students in classrooms and studios every day, and attracts national recognition in fields as diverse as dance, the philosophy of robotics, poetry and ceramics.
Hollis Robbins, Ph.D.