John A. Nunes, PhD

President Varlotta’s Inaugural Note to Campus

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,
I believe it is important for a president to communicate openly and routinely with the entire university. Therefore, I am going to continue a practice I started during my first presidency—sending personal notes to the campus community twice each month.
For now, I will plan on getting a note to you every other Thursday afternoon. These notes will serve any number of purposes: They may remind you of forthcoming events; spotlight the impressive work of friends and colleagues around the Thousand Oaks campus, PLTS, or our satellite centers; update you on an important situation; explain key projects that have occupied my time; and/or introduce a process that needs your input or feedback.
With those purposes in mind, it sure feels good to sit in Kingsmen Park on this beautiful morning and draft the first note in the 2020-21 series.
Here it goes…
The start of the school year is remarkably different than the one we had hoped for and imagined, and I know the disruptions you are navigating these days are plentiful. But in addition to the challenges you are facing, there are probably some unexpected opportunities as well. Let us all collectively commit to leveraging those opportunities during these unprecedented times.
One of the opportunities I would like to leverage was initiated by President Kimball and the able production team of Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, Matt Ward, Regina Biddings-Muro, Zareh Marselian, and Karin Grennan. That opportunity is the Connecting@CalLutheran webinar series. For those of you who were here last year, please know we will be continuing this series. For those of you who are new, please accept this as my personal invitation to participate. In that vein, be sure to log on tomorrow at 1 p.m. to hear the questions a small panel of students will ask me.
Two weeks later, on Wednesday, September 23, at 2 p.m., I will host — for all faculty and staff — the term’s first virtual Operational Update Webinar. That update will be followed by the term’s second Connecting@CalLutheran on Friday, September 25.
In addition to these virtual meetings, I am thrilled to say that I have been able to participate in several physically distanced, face-to-face interactions since I arrived last week. I have trekked up to the cross and to the CLU rocks with a small number of students and staff members, been shown around  campus by colleagues in Facilities and Campus Safety, led my first Cabinet meeting from a camping chair positioned a good six feet away from the rest of the crew spread out over the Pederson Ranch House lawn, and logged several other “walk and talk” meetings.
As I make my way around the Thousand Oaks campus, it is great to see everyone wearing face coverings. I’m particularly partial to the Cal Lutheran ones. If you are a student who has not received a Cal Lutheran face covering, you can request one through Residence Life at; faculty and staff can make their requests through the Cabinet member overseeing their division.
Thankfully, my first week on campus included more than a series of meetings. I deliberately carved out reflection time during which I could do all of the following: replay (in my mind) the conversations I had had with new colleagues and students; ponder some of the pressing questions that have already been posed to me by members of the Cal Lutheran community; and think about my hopes and dreams for the year to come. Already, these reflections are making my head spin and my heart beat a little more quickly than it usually does.
There is much to do at Cal Lutheran; lots of it will be the type of hard but rewarding work that strengthens a community at its core. I hope you will join the efforts to build and fortify this community so that all of us can call it “home,” “family,” and “mine” and feel the warmth and energy that emanate from a place that really is all of those things.
I am so looking forward to meeting and interacting with more and more of you.
Lori E. Varlotta,


  • Grateful for You
    June 13, 2024

    To say I feel welcomed into this community would be the understatement of my working life. Since my first official day on the job, I have had the privilege of meeting many of you. You have welcomed me with open arms at local church services, a synod assembly, during impromptu conversations along "the spine," and at The Habit for lunch and Starbucks for coffee.