Watch CBS News

Sonoma State President Mike Lee to retire after divestment email controversy

Sonoma State president placed on leave after announcing deal with protesters
Sonoma State president placed on leave after announcing deal with protesters 03:26

Sonoma State University President Mike Lee will retire from his job at the school, notifying officials a day after being placed on leave for an email he sent about the agreement he made with campus protesters on divestment from Israel.

CSU Chancellor Mildred Garcia confirmed Lee's plan to retire in a statement posted to the California State University website on Thursday.

"President Ming-Tung 'Mike' Lee has informed me of his decision to retire from his role at Sonoma State University," the statement read. "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."

Lee found himself at the center of controversy earlier this week over the email regarding his agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters that was posted online by a student group

The email and Lee's decision to enter into the agreement saw immediate backlash. Chancellor Garcia announced Lee was placed on administrate leave on Wednesday.

"For now, because of this insubordination and consequences it has brought upon the system, President Lee has been placed on administrative leave," Garcia said.

Garcia went on to say Lee's message was sent without approval. An updated message to the campus from Lee confirmed he was alone in his decision to send the email.

"I want to be clear: The message was drafted and sent without the approval of, or consultation with, the Chancellor or other system leaders. The points outlined in the message were mine alone, and do not represent the views of my colleagues or the CSU," Lee said on Wednesday.

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus also released a statement Wednesday saying the organization supported the suspension. The group's co-chairs Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued a statement that said Lee's endorsement of an academic boycott was "totally unacceptable and evidence that former President Lee is unfit to lead one of our great state institutions."  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.