Blog Entry

The LGBTQIA+ Caucus Remembers the Life of Former Chair, Scott Saarheim

With profound sadness and loss, CFA said goodbye this month to Scott Saarheim, one of our long-time leaders and activists. He was Associate Professor at CSU Maritime and Marine Vocational Instructor II in the Department of Marine Transportation. Saarheim passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  Several of our chairs remember his life, service and commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community…


I have very fond memories of Scott Saarheim. Scott was a terrific dinner and drinking companion, and he had many entertaining stories to share. Usually this would happen at the bar. He was a sailor, and he could drink like one. In fact, in some ways, Scott seemed like a figure from seafaring literature. He was a sailor in the classic sense—a captain, in my imagination. He was somewhat weather-worn, confident and direct when he spoke, and perfectly capable of taking the lead and organizing our caucus-crew to get things done. He helped put us in touch with Pride at Work, an LGBTQ+ labor advocacy organization, and, during contract negotiations, he articulated how our CBA could be strengthened in terms of LGBTQ+ rights and safety concerns. But for all of Scott’s rough-and-tumble manner, Scott was fundamentally loving and kind. I will miss Scott very much, and the LGBTQIA+ Caucus is indebted to his leadership.”

-John Benyon, Fresno State, Chair of the LGBTQIA+ Caucus


“It is with a heavy heart that I write about the loss of my friend, colleague and LGBT Caucus co-chair Scott Saarheim. I met Scott at one of my first statewide CFA Assemblies. He extended his friendship and I took it sharing stories over beers in the bar and chairs in the lounge areas at Assembly hotels. I attended the LGBT Caucus when Joanne Schmidt was chair of the Caucus and within a couple of years Joanne was ready to step down so Scott and I volunteered to be co-chairs. Scott and I became fast friends when we organized meetings and guest speakers for our Caucus and Equity Conferences. Scott knew many LGBT activists and was able to secure speakers from Pride at Work and other LGBT political and social organizations within and outside of California. I could always count on Scott to be aware of LGBT national and state events and we would push each other err, I mean, encourage each other to research what was happening so we could bring it back to our Caucus and CFA statewide. Scott was a strong and outspoken advocate for CFA.

During our friendship, Scott and I co-wrote a paper that we presented at the AAUP Conference. It was nice to spend time together outside of CFA and working together gave us more time to do this. One time when I was at his house, we sat outside in his beautiful backyard, which was more like a spa retreat, and talked about the future. Scott had already started planning for his retirement. He was going to retire to an island outside of Seattle. He loved the water and wanted always to be a part of it. He had his dog Bert then and Scott doted on him and he was a part of the conversation both verbally and physically. Wherever Scott went, Bert followed. 

After Scott was diagnosed, we talked a lot on the phone in between CFA events or when one of us wasn’t able to attend. He was always positive even on his bad days. He knew the bad days would pass and he’d feel better tomorrow. And this was often the case. Scott was part of our CFA family and I miss him dearly as I’m sure many of you do.”

-Vickie Harvey, CSU Stanislaus, Chair of the LGBTQIA+ Caucus