Lori E. Varlotta

Recognizing Culture, Community, and Identity

Dear Campus Community,

October is a time for celebration. This week, we are honoring both Latinx History Month and LGBTQIA+ Awareness Month, and next week kicks off the Homecoming festivities we so enjoy. In addition to calling us to join in the celebration of the aforementioned, this note gives deserved recognition to a number of recently awarded grants whose programs align directly with Cal Lutheran’s commitment to foster inclusion and emphasize vocation.  

In this vein, I am thrilled to announce that Cal Lutheran’s application to renew our Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Title V grant was recently approved by the Federal Department of Education (ED).  Of the hundreds of applications submitted, only 38% were awarded. As part of this award, we will receive $2.8M over the next five years to bring to life a new program called Vocational Identity and Talent in Academic Learning (VITAL).

VITAL aims to increase engagement and retention of Hispanic and low-income students by providing the following: a peer mentoring program, financial literacy workshops, online learning options, and on-campus student employment opportunities. By focusing on intentional and personalized advising and peer mentoring, as well as financial literacy support and on-campus employment, VITAL helps the University reinforce our Lutheran values of vocation and calling. Stay tuned for the press release coming out later this afternoon. 

A second grant, Embracing Spanish for the Professions at Home and Abroad (ESPHA) program — for which we were one of 18 institutions in the country selected — was also funded by ED. As part of this grant, we will receive $159,000+ over two years to incorporate Spanish language materials into a myriad of academic settings. 

As I mentioned in an earlier communiqué, the hard work of colleagues in our Upward Bound and McNair programs was also recognized by ED grant reviewers. Impressively, programs in each of those areas were also renewed over the summer.

Along with the federally-funded grants, Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED) awarded Cal Lutheran $300,000 over a three-year period to support the Department of Learning and Teaching. It focuses on improving student experience assessments and continuing to fund the Graduate School of Education’s partnership with the Santa Maria Bonita School District in Santa Barbara County.

Clearly, these grants give us lots to celebrate. Additionally, let us all join in the celebration of community taking place next weekend: Homecoming. The packed schedule of events features in-person and virtual programs for current students, parents, and alumni, ranging from sporting events, birthday celebrations, musical performances, and much, much more. I look forward to seeing you at Homecoming.  

 

Until next time,

 

Lori E. Varlotta, Ph.D.
President

More

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