Sonoma State president steps down amid retaliation scandal
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki will step down amid a scandal involving sexual harassment reports about her husband and alleged retaliation by Sakaki against a school provost, according to a news report Monday.
Sakaki said in a statement that she will depart on July 31, calling her tenure as university president “an honor,” the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.
“After thoughtful reflection and discussions with my family, I made the decision to step away as president of this wonderful campus,” she said.
Sakaki, 69, has been embroiled in controversy since April, when the Press Democrat reported that the California State University system paid a $600,000 settlement to a former Sonoma State provost. The payment was intended to resolve a dispute related to sexual harassment complaints from several female university employees against Sakaki’s husband, Patrick McCallum.
Lisa Vollendorf, the provost, claimed Sakaki retaliated after she reported the complaints about McCallum to the CSU Chancellor’s Office in late 2018.
Sakaki, who denies any retaliation occurred, announced her separation from McCallum on April 18.
McCallum’s behavior that made staff uncomfortable was described as lingering hugs, staring at women’s breasts and brushing hair off their faces in an overly familiar way.
McCallum has apologized for what he described as “gregarious” behavior.