Embattled Sonoma State president retires after promises to pro-Palestinian protesters

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – The president of Sonoma State University announced his retirement on Friday, days after he was put on leave promising pro-Palestinian protesters a review of the university’s investments and an “academic boycott” of educational programs connected to Israeli institutions.

California State University Chancellor Mildred García said that President Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee told her that he was retiring from his role. In her memo, she thanked him for his service and wished his family well.

She said she would work with Acting President Nathan Evans and the board to figure out next steps. 

On Wednesday, in placing Lee on leave, Garcia said he did not have “appropriate approvals” to send the campuswide message outlining the agreement with students who had been protesting at a pro-Palestinian encampment. 

On Tuesday, Lee had called for a cease-fire in Gaza and said he and the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine “oppose and condemn all acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, and other activities that violate fundamental human rights.”

García described Lee’s actions as “insubordination,” adding that his message brought “consequences” to the Cal State system.

 She added that his message was “challenging and painful” for some Sonoma State students and community members.

In a second campuswide message sent Wednesday, Lee apologized and said he hadn’t consulted with García or other leaders before sending the first announcement.

Israel denies that it is carrying out genocide in Gaza. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.