PRESIDENT KEVIN (Executive Director of Fairytale Town) calls the meeting to order and welcomes our guest speaker, DR. ROBERT M. NELSEN. DR. NELSEN’S review of Sacramento State’s accomplishments and goals is truly inspiring.


ALLISON CAGLEY (Sergeant in Arms) (Friends of Sacramento Arts) introduced our guest ELLEN DAHL, WALTER DAHL’S (Dahl Law, Attorneys at Law) daughter. Welcome ELLEN! We hope you join us again.


MARGO FOWKES (OnTarget Consulting, Inc.) presented the thought of the day. MARGO looked to Louise Erdich’s novel, Blue Jay’s Dance. Margo reflects on pregnancy and the author’s first year with her daughter. The passage below reminds MARGO of sending her children off to college.


“It would seem she has everything she could want – she is fed, she is carried, she is rocked, put to sleep.  But no, walking is the thing, the consuming urge to seize control.  She has to walk to gain entrance to the world.  From now on, she will get from here to there more and more by her own effort.  As she goes, she will notice worn grass, shops or snow or the shapes of trees.  She will walk for reasons other than to get somewhere in particular.  She’ll walk to think or not to think, to leave the body, which is often the same as becoming at one with it.  She will walk to ward off anger in its many forms.  For pleasure, purpose or to grieve.  She’ll walk until the world slows down, until her brain lets go of everything behind and until her eyes see only the next step.  She’ll walk until her feet hurt, her muscles tremble, until her eyes are numb with looking.  She’ll walk until her sense of balance is the one thing left and the rest of the world is balanced, too, and eventually, if we do the growing up right, she will walk away from us.”


MARGO’S thought for the day about learning and how knowledge allow us all to seize control is particularly timely as an introduction to our speaker, DR. NELSEN.


DARLENE HAILEY led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.


PRESIDENT KEVIN announced that a new tradition for Rotary International will begin in the 2022-2023 year. JENNIFER E. JONES, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland in Canada, was elected as Rotary’s International’s President. JENNIFER will be the first woman in the 115-year history to lead the organization, a truly great milestone for all Rotarians.


Today’s meeting sponsor is JIM RELLES, (President of Relles Florist). PRESIDENT KEVIN announced that Relles Florist is open and available for walk-ins, curbside pickup, and delivery of beautiful and fabulous arrays of flowers. PRESIDENT KEVIN reminded us of, “If you’re gonna buy flowers, buy them from me.” View JIM on KVIE!


CLICK HERE to view and purchase Relles Florist variety of flowers!


The next Brown Bag, coming up on September 29th, was announced by SARAH HODGE (California State University, Sacramento). SARAH needs Rotarians to host socially distanced, outdoor Brown Bag events. Virtual Brown Bags are also being explored. Brown Bag events are an excellent way to introduce your Rotary Brothers and Sisters to your business or services. Please contact SARAH today to sign up to host a Brown Bag or with an idea for an interesting and fun Brown Bag location. We appreciate any Rotarian who is willing to volunteer!


PAST PRESIDENT WALTER DAHL shared that, in honor of the Al Ajeeli and Al Azzawi family being sworn in as citizens and his son Morgan’s wedding, WALTER contributed $250 to the Rotary Foundation of Sacramento. Many thanks to WALTER for the contribution and congratulations again to the Al Ajeeli and Al Azzawai families as well as to Morgan and his new wife!


RIVKAH SASS (Sacramento Public Library) was honored as the 2020 Charles Robinson Award recipient for 2020. This national award is given annually to a public library director who, over seven (7) or more years, is a risktaker, innovator and a change agent in a public library. The award is named after Charles Robinson, a public library director of the Baltimore county library. This award is particularly meaningful to RIVKAH because Charles Robinson was a dear friend and mentor of RIVKAH, whom she lost in 2016. RIVKAH donated $100 to the Rotary Foundation of Sacramento. Thank you, RIVKAH SASS!


RUTH TESAR (Northern California PET Imaging Center) is a first time grandmother to her daughter and son-in-law’s new baby. The family is currently residing in Chile. Congratulations to you and your family, RUTH! In honor of this moment RUTH donated $250 to the Rotary Foundation of Sacramento.


KATHE NATHAN (Merchants Bank of Commerce) donated $100 in honor of her father who turned 94 on July 31st. He still enjoys riding his bike, which is a big motivation for KATHE to join the Sac Century race. Her father took a spill on his wheelchair recently and is in all of our thoughts and prayers. KATHE says her father is currently doing well and we hope that continues so we can all see him on his bike once more.

ESTEEMED PAST PRESIDENT DIANE WOODRUFF introduced our speaker DR. RICHARD M. NELSEN, President of California State University of Sacramento “CSUS.” DR. NELSEN grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana and is the first person in his family to go to college. He is also the first in his family to receive a doctorate from the University of Chicago. DR. NELSEN and CSUS face many challenges not the least of which are keeping the students safe and transferring all classes from in-person format to be online courses. Programs are currently being developed and implemented to help students facing the economic downfall as there are more homeless and hungry students than ever. DR. NELSEN not only has the intelligence but also the heart to help these students to succeed and prosper.


Sac State was founded in 1947 with only 235 students and has grown today to 31,000 students. Just here in Sacramento there are 250,000 alumni, with 1 in 20 persons having graduated from CSUS. When DR. NELSEN spoke to us 5 years ago, the graduation rate was only 8%, which appalled him. The graduation rate has since increased to 24% and will approach 30% in fall. That is a 127% increase!


This past spring CSUS converted from 95% of classes being face-to-face to 100% of classes being online. The faculty was able to achieve this in only four days with 70 students dropping out that semester, compared to the usual 200. This past fall 9,778 students graduated, an increase from the 7,300 from 5 years ago, and they are now at 9,700. Not only are the students working harder, but 800 faculty went back to summer camp. One might ask, why would the faculty be attending a summer camp? DR. NELSEN indicated the educators attend to improve their online teaching, in order to be prepared to face the difficulties of running virtual classrooms.


Sac State is also home to 1,400 veterans on campus. Out of the 23 CSUS, they are 1 of only 4 universities or colleges that have a Veterans Success Center. Sac State has a long tradition of future generations returning, while only 32% of students are the first generation of their family to attend college. This past year, even with COVID-19, Sac State logged 55,000 hours in community service. Their athletes are nothing to sneeze at either. The football team was ranked 4th in the nation, after being ranked for the first time in the nation just last year. The campus is also home to 175 tree species and 3,276 trees. As a CSUS alumni, this reporter can attest to the beautiful, park-like atmosphere throughout the campus and in Alumni Grove. CSUS is a great place to walk your dog as evidenced by the fact that CSUS is the largest dog walking campus in the US. While the planetarium is not currently open, unlike most planetariums in California, CSUS’ planetarium does not charge for kids to enter. We look forward to seeing the evening and nighttime sky inside the planetarium again soon.


These are tough times. CSUS is not immune to racism, but seeks to approach and vigorously fight racism and discrimination. Sac State is now the 4th most diverse university west of the Mississippi. DR. NELSEN strives for the university to become more caring in the years to come. CSUS works hard to be an anti-racist campus which includes hiring Diana Tate Vermeire as Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and as the University Diversity Officer. CSUS is leading California in building the community and the university system an anti-racist framework and anti-biased response team to ensure that people can talk openly and report when they do find any biased activity on campus. By hiring an Ombudsperson, they are trying to help students move forward so they have not only a facilitator but also a mentor. The Hornet Honor Code received an update to include diversity, respect, and care and is used to start each meeting off by discussing what that code means. CLICK HERE to read the Hornet Honor Code. Sac State is stabling a more diverse faculty, so students are able to see themselves in both staff and educators who can better function as role models.


CSUS’ other top priority, like most universities, is safety. Issues include the absence of quiet places for students to study as libraries and most similar facilities are closed during the pandemic. Students also face other challenges as students may have children or family to care for full-time. Other students have lost their jobs and are having difficulty paying their rent. With DR. NELSEN’S assistance, Sac State created the CARES (Crisis Assistance Resource Education Support) Award. The CARES Award federal money provides help to students who are facing a wide range of difficulties. 52% of this funding went to housing in order to assist students who might be living paycheck-to-paycheck, yet still cannot afford housing. Another $500,000 has been set aside to assist students when they return this fall, in order to keep them on their feet. DR. NELSEN’S wife, Jody, has worked with CARES to find 25 places in local apartments for homeless students and 50 homes for others that were facing uncertainties. There is also the Seth Nelsen Emergency Fund setup to help students for food, medicine, or any other obstacle they may face.


CLICK HERE to financially support CSUS and CARES!


Even with budget cuts happening during this pandemic, Sac State has been able to purchase hot spots for students to connect to and purchase over 2 million in computers to loan out to faculty to staff in order to help everyone move forward. Sac State has been working hard to avoid layoffs and furloughs by cutting travel and anything else they can afford to cut, in order to concentrate on delivering prosperous online classes. Students want to be on campus and be involved in the university, especially during this time of being stuck at home. Sac State will still have courses on campus, up to 1,000, but will be enforcing social distancing, wearing masks, and ambassadors will be at every building to also hand out masks to those that are missing them. Out of the 202,000 courses this fall, only 162 of them will be face-to-face in order to help those who cannot complete all courses online, such as nurses who need to practice on mannequins. Due to campuses closing this past semester, 195 of their nurses had to take incompletes and could not graduate since they could not complete their trans clinical rotation. That is an entire generation of nurses that could have assisted the community during the pandemic. This is why there is still need for students to be involved on campus. DR. NELSEN is extremely proud of not only the students but especially the staff for stepping up and overcoming challenges in this uncertain time.


CLICK HERE to view Dr. Nelsen’s presentation!


PRESIDENT KEVIN and all Rotarians would like to extend a sincere thank you to DR. NELSEN for his inspirational speech of how Sac State is striving to achieve excellence each day. Another sincere thank you to DR. NELSEN for his leadership of Sac State to attain an anti-racist and anti-biased campus and his huge focus on not only educating students, but also his faculty. DR. NELSEN you are a motivation to us all!


Tune in at the same time, same place next week when we will have a special musical performance by our own ELFRENA FOORD (Foord, Van Bruggen, & Pajak) and DICK OSEN. You will not want to miss MR. TODD KOOLAKIAN (Sacramento Children’s Home) with an update from the Sacramento Children’s Home Crisis Nursery Program. TODD promises to bring a guest to describe the Crisis Nursery Programs success and impact on our community.


In closing, ALLISON CAGLEY reminded us that the Sacramento Century is only 7 weeks away. During the first week of October, the Sacramento Century will be rolling into town celebrating its 7th year of cycling and raising funds.


CLICK HERE for Allison’s update of the Sacramento Century Ride.