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After Being Placed on Administrative Leave, Sonoma State President Retires

Dr. Mike LeeDr. Mike LeeCalifornia State University Sonoma President Dr. Mike Lee retired on Friday after he was placed on administrative leave after he agreed to protesters’ demands to involve them in university decision-making and pursue divestment from Israel.

The action comes amid nationwide antiwar protests and concerns for upholding student and faculty rights to speech and assembly alongside ensuring their safety and security. On-campus demonstrations have resulted in thousands of arrests since April, when student activism ballooned regarding the conflict in Israel.

A statement from California State Chancellor Dr. Mildred García notes that, on May 14, Lee sent a campuswide message concerning an agreement with campus protesters that did not include the appropriate approvals.

Presently, Dr. Nathan Evans, deputy vice chancellor for academic and student affairs and chief academic officer, is serving as acting president of Sonoma State University.

“Our role as educators is to support and uplift all members of the California State University,” said García. “I want to acknowledge how deeply concerned I am about the impact the statement has had on the Sonoma State community, and how challenging and painful it will be for many of our students and community members to see and read. The heart and mission of the CSU is to create an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone we serve, not to marginalize one community over another.”

García later added: “President Ming-Tung ‘Mike’ Lee has informed me of his decision to retire from his role at Sonoma State University. I thank President Lee for his years of service to the California State University — starting at California State University, Sacramento — and to higher education overall. I wish him and his family well. I will continue to work with Acting President Nathan Evans and our Board of Trustees leadership during this transitional period. Additional information will be forthcoming.”

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