Colleen Shalby, Robert J. Lopez
April 13, 2022
California State University paid $600,000 this year to settle a claim with a Sonoma State provost who reported retaliation and sexual harassment allegations involving the campus president and her husband, according to records in the case obtained by The Times.
Lisa Vollendorf, then the university’s provost, reported to Cal State system officials that several women alleged they were sexually harassed by Patrick McCallum, a prominent higher education lobbyist who is married to Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki, a legal claim filed with Cal State shows.
Though not a CSU employee, McCallum is an official university volunteer who participates in campus events with his wife. Vollendorf is a longtime higher-education administrator and was recently appointed as president of SUNY Empire State College in New York.
Vollendorf said she followed system policy requiring her to report the allegations to the Cal State chancellor’s office in Long Beach, prompting retaliation from Sakaki, her boss, according to the claim, which The Times obtained with other case documents under a California Public Records Act request. The former provost accused Cal State in her claim of failing to conduct a full-fledged investigation and doing only “very cursory and preliminary interviews.”
Vollendorf said she told the general counsel in December 2018 that three women — two of them campus employees — alleged McCallum talked about his sex life, ran his fingers through one woman’s hair and then made “inappropriate personal comments” about her appearance during a party at his house, according to settlement records the provost’s attorney filed with system officials. The women, who reported the accusations to Vollendorf because they worked for her or knew her, described the behavior as “creepy,” “disgusting” and “pervy,” the records said.