Cal Lutheran welcomes 750 new students

Semester begins mostly virtual with 9 outdoor classes

Several faculty members will be the first to teach inside the new Swenson Science Center, presenting live and recorded demonstrations in anatomy, biology, chemistry and exercise science to students attending class remotely.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Aug. 31, 2020) California Lutheran University is welcoming about 750 new undergraduate students as fall semester begins in a mostly virtual format in response to COVID-19.

Classes start today, which is the last day of Chris Kimball’s presidency before Lori E. Varlotta takes the helm on Tuesday.

Although most classes are starting virtually, nine undergraduate lecture classes are taking place in new outdoor classrooms under tents with open sides. Two small ceramics classes will meet in an indoor studio.

The new $34 million Swenson Science Center will open its doors to select students conducting independent research. Several faculty members will be the first to teach inside the building, presenting live and recorded demonstrations in anatomy, biology, chemistry and exercise science to students attending class remotely. Another new facility, a state-of-the-art music production studio, will open to students.

Cal Lutheran reduced its residence hall capacity to provide everyone with a private bedroom and reserved 67 rooms and five houses for quarantine and isolation use. Over the last week, about 400 residents moved in on a staggered schedule to allow for distancing. All residents are being tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.

Everyone coming on-site is required to complete an online daily health check and agree to follow precautions such as wearing face coverings and physically distancing on campus and to notify the university about COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test.

New Student Orientation was virtual with students watching video presentations and attending online socials. The Week of Welcome for all students will include daily virtual activities including an improv show, trivia night and involvement fair.

Staff distributed laptops, webcams, headphones and hot spots to those who needed them. The Student Union and outdoor spaces on the Thousand Oaks campus and at the Oxnard Center will provide Wi-Fi and quiet areas to take virtual classes or study.

About 500 new first-year students are entering Cal Lutheran. New transfer students number about 250, about 40 of whom are in the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program and the rest joining the traditional undergraduate population. Total undergraduate enrollment is just over 2,800.

Here is a snapshot of Cal Lutheran’s incoming traditional undergraduates:

— Students of color constitute about 57% of first-year and transfer enrollment.

— One out of three is a first-generation college student.

— Twenty-two new international students represent 17 countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sweden.

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