Lori E. Varlotta

Happy Holidays!

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

We have made it to the end of the calendar year! Chilly weather and holiday celebrations have injected some festive cheer into the mad race to the finish. Soon, we will all be able to kick back a bit and enjoy the spirit of the many holidays celebrated at this time of year.

The semester’s final Town Hall last week brought ~200 faculty and staff to the table. For those who couldn’t be there in person or catch it online, below is a recap of what we shared.


Campus Plan

As we begin the implementation of the Campus Plan, we are using several cornerstones to ground our work. The first “active node” cornerstone calls us to invest in projects that create or fortify a sense of vibrancy in the central part of campus (near Ullman Commons, Memorial Parkway, and space where Nygreen Hall is located). As part of this cornerstone, we are studying the pros and cons of the restriction of vehicular traffic on a portion of Memorial Parkway. This tentative project will require Board of Regents (BoR) and City approval, so there is much yet to debate.

A second cornerstone, bolstering students’ academic experience, is prompting us to consider an accelerated schedule for remodeling the Ahmanson Science Center. A third cornerstone, enhancing the student co-curricular experience, has led us to consider upgrades to our most participated co-curricular program: Intercollegiate Athletics. The BoR has already approved upgrades to softball dugouts and storage areas which will begin as soon as the spring season concludes. We are also looking carefully at what it will take to design and build a track and field facility.

Teacher Residency Grant

Along with the many grants we announced at the last Town Hall, we were excited to share the latest news about a new $1.875 million State of California grant for a “Pathway to Teaching Residency Program.” Through this initiative, approximately 25 Santa Maria-Bonita School District (SMBSD) employees annually, for three years, will receive a scholarship to obtain their teaching credential at Cal Lutheran.

Space to Honor Chumash Peoples

A group of university faculty and administrators are meeting to discern how we might transform an open space near Kingsmen Park and the Student Union to honor the Chumash and inspire reflection and gathering.

Gallegly Archive Completion

The Gallegly Archive materials have been organized, categorized, and appropriately shelved for research use. Starting this winter, student and faculty scholars will be able to search online for materials they wish to review. They can then schedule an appointment to visit the library archives and access the materials they need.

Giving Tuesday

Cal Lutheran participated in Giving Tuesday on November 29. Despite being a 24-hour, global campaign that invites people and organizations to generously “give back,” University Advancement almost doubled the University’s fundraising goal in 12 hours. The $133,000 raised will go to myriad centers and departments on campus, all reinvested towards students.


Men’s Water Polo

Earlier this month, our Men’s Water Polo team won their first SCIAC Championship! The Kingsmen made it to the finals of the DIII National Championship, losing a heartbreaking game to the University of Redlands in the final match. The team embodies the camaraderie, athleticism, and dedication it takes to be student-athletes. Faculty and staff were thrilled to have the team and Coach Cody Pletcher attend the Town Hall for a well-deserved recognition. Way to go, Kingsmen!

Kingsmen and Regals Quartet

In the spirit of the season, the Kingsmen and Regals Quartets performed three songs from their Make We Joy Christmas Concert setlist. Nothing puts you in a merry mood like the masterful combination of iconic and updated Christmas carols. It was a perfect Town Hall finale. 

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and a little merriment will help keep us moving. I invite those who work an afternoon/evening shift to join me at Merry AfternoonCheer today at 4:00 p.m. on the President’s Patio at the Pederson Administration Building. Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. everyone is invited to a Merry Morning Cheer at the Habit Patio.

No matter what holidays you celebrate this season, I wish you all a joyful and happy time, filled with friends, family, and some restful downtime.

Lori E. Varlotta

Lori E. Varlotta, Ph.D.


  • Getting into the Groove
    Thu January 26, 2023

    Spring 2023 is fully upon us, and many are already into the rhythm and groove of the term. Like the opening of most semesters and terms, we are kicking this one off at high speed with a host of programs and services designed to welcome us all back to our California Lutheran University community.

  • Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Fri January 13, 2023

    Next week, we commemorate and honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who served as a beacon of hope to African Americans, the nation's working class, and the oppressed around the world.

  • New DEIJ Initiatives
    Wed January 11, 2023

    Now that staff have been back to campus for over a week, I wanted to send out the first 2023 communique that announces the formation of a new Council and the forthcoming implementation of a new campus-wide plan. 

  • Happy Holidays!
    Thu December 15, 2022

    The semester’s final Town Hall last week brought ~200 faculty and staff to the table. For those who couldn’t be there in person or catch it online, below is a recap of what we shared.

  • Gratitude in the Messy Middle
    Tue November 22, 2022

    The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. This means that many of us will be traveling to visit with family and friends; preparing a meal that brings and keeps loved ones to the table; rooting for our favorite teams; and reflecting on the people, places, and things for which we are grateful.

  • Indigenous Peoples' Heritage Month
    Wed November 9, 2022

    Please join us in activities organized throughout November as we recognize and honor Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month. These programs have been scheduled to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Indigenous and Native-identifying colleagues and neighbors and to affirm Cal Lutheran’s commitment to meaningful, inclusive engagement.

  • Recognizing Culture, Community, and Identity
    Thu October 13, 2022

    In addition to calling us to join in the upcoming celebrations, 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. 

  • A Call to Community
    Thu September 29, 2022

    In the final days of September, we are at the focal point of the academic year: students are in the midst of completing homework assignments and taking tests (but not quite midterms), and events are ramping up engagement with community celebrations. I too have been doing homework and had the privilege of participating in community-building activities recently at a theological conference in Utah.

  • September Updates and Highlights
    Thu September 15, 2022

    Like I wrote in my first note to campus two years ago, I will use notes like this one to provide updates on events and activities, highlight important information, and/or share insights on issues of relevance to those of us in higher education. Today’s note focuses on the first two.

  • Celebrating HSI Week and Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month
    Mon September 12, 2022

    As a Hispanic Serving Institution, we are recognizing HSI Week today through Friday along with other HSI designated colleges and universities across the nation. 

  • Happy New Year
    Thu September 1, 2022

    Welcome to Fall 2022! Nothing makes our campuses more vibrant than welcoming new and returning students and employees to our shared spaces and places. This is my favorite part of the year — a new beginning to chart our course for a bright future.

  • Renewed Funding for Campus Grant Programs!
    Thu August 18, 2022

    Over the last few months, many staff and faculty at Cal Lutheran have worked diligently to submit renewal applications to the Department of Education to support critical grants. In total, Cal Lutheran will receive $6.7M in renewal funds to support the Upward Bound and McNair Scholars programs.

  • Compensation Update
    Tue August 16, 2022

    I am very pleased to announce that the Board of Regents approved a salary increase, which will go into effect this Monday, August 22.

  • Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes
    Wed July 13, 2022

    It is with a heavy heart that I share this news. The Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes, a treasured member of the Cal Lutheran community, died yesterday following a recent hospitalization.

  • April is AAPI Month at Cal Lu
    Wed March 30, 2022

    Like other college campuses whose Spring terms end in early or mid-May, Cal Lutheran will celebrate AAPI Heritage month in April to ensure that our students can participate in AAPI Month activities before they buckle down in preparation for final exams and projects.

  • Initiatives that Spring Us Forward
    Thu March 24, 2022

    In the spirit of the new Spring season, many exciting and essential projects have begun sprouting around campus. In case you missed last week's Town Hall, this note will highlight several of them.

  • Home to our Second Professional Athletic Team
    Tue March 8, 2022

    I am thrilled to announce that Cal Lutheran is now home to a second professional athletic team. We just finalized an agreement with the Angel City Football Club (ACFC)—the 11th member of the National Women's Soccer League. 

  • Building Momentum in the Early Weeks of 2022
    Fri February 18, 2022

    As we move into the second half of the Spring Semester, please know that the following updates and issues are the critical ones at this moment.

  • Join us as we acknowledge the land and the people
    Tue January 25, 2022

    As we begin the second half of the academic year and the first part of 2022, I am pleased by the number and types of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs we are offering and the commitments we are actualizing.

  • Winter and Spring 2022 Operations – Virtual Classes Week of January 17
    Wed January 12, 2022

    Classes across all academic programs at the University will meet virtually from January 17-23.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Week of Service
    Mon January 10, 2022

    Today, Dr. King’s legacy calls each of us to dedicate our time, resources, and unique gifts to breaking the chains of racism and poverty in service to our own communities.

  • Together We Plan: Campus Community Day Follow-Up Items
    Wed November 24, 2021

    Last Thursday’s strategic planning workshop, led by our Consultants from Credo, was a huge success. Over two hundred of us attended the afternoon-long program where we generated a substantial number of ideas. 

  • The Gift of Time: Extended Holiday Break
    Mon November 8, 2021

    I write this note to expand on the theme of recognition and gratitude that the Cabinet and I touched upon at last week’s Fall 2021 Town Hall. 

  • Borderline....We remember together
    Fri November 5, 2021

    We remember the tragic shooting on November 7, 2018, at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks with heavy hearts.

  • The Spirit of the Fall Semester
    Thu October 21, 2021

    October is to the collegiate year as December is to the holiday season. The crisp air wakes us up as we walk across campus or wait for the BART to bring us to our seminary classes. 

  • Being a part of the change that is here and that which is coming
    Thu September 23, 2021

    With seven days left in the month of September, we are several weeks into the Fall semester.

  • Hopeful Change in the Newest of New Years
    Thu September 9, 2021

    For the first time in my 36 years in academia, more than half of our students are new to the university at this very moment.

  • Launching our General Education Task Force
    Tue June 29, 2021

    Our core curriculum must evolve into one that is designed to help students find their vocation and their purpose, become agile thinkers and constructive doers, and live and work as engaged citizens who understand the intricacies and intersections ever-present in today’s global society.

  • Meet in the Park
    Thu May 27, 2021

    One of the bright spots that emerged at Cal Lutheran during the pandemic is that we have a viable option of taking some of our work “outside.”

  • A pause for celebration
    Thu May 13, 2021

    It is hard to believe that finals week for the 2020-21 academic year has come to a close, and we have already celebrated our 2021 Traditional Undergraduates at the in-person, drive-in ceremony at the Ventura County Fairgrounds last weekend. 

  • The semester's end is in sight
    Thu April 22, 2021

    In less than one month, the academic semester will be over, and we will have all completed a challenging academic year.

  • Generosity in Action - the Spirit and Action of Cares Day
    Thu April 8, 2021

    Yesterday, a three-month planning process culminated in a stunningly successful fundraising campaign called Cal Lutheran Cares Day: Stronger Together!

  • Values in Action: Expressions of Gratitude for Those Around Us
    Thu March 25, 2021

    We are more than one full year into the pandemic. When we vacated our campuses and our classrooms last March who would have imagined that the world we knew then would be disrupted at this level for this length of time? Over the last twelve months, all of us have become innovators and change agents. 

  • Repopulating the campus and weighing into the TO General Plan
    Thu March 11, 2021

    Next week marks the one-year anniversary of when Cal Lutheran students, faculty, and staff were sent home to study and work.

  • New positions, a reflective goodbye, and summaries of important updates
    Thu February 25, 2021

    I will use today’s biweekly message to summarize news mentioned in three communiques and to provide an exciting update on our DEI efforts.

  • New spaces, more faces, and much to do
    Thu February 11, 2021

    It’s nice to see the slow but sure increase in activity on our Thousand Oaks campus. Our residential students have settled in, athletic teams are starting to practice, and slightly more staff members are working on-site. 

  • Building the Structures Necessary for Mid-21st Century Success
    Thu January 28, 2021

    Every now and then I want to provide updates geared primarily to employees. Since this is one of those times, today’s note is written primarily for faculty and staff. 

  • Paying Homage to King, Welcoming A New Year, and Doubling Down on our Purpose
    Thu January 14, 2021

    I write this first note of the new year with a mind that is fully occupied and a heart that is heavy yet hopeful at the same time.

  • Cal Lutheran’s Bright Spot in 2020–Student Success
    Thu December 17, 2020

    As 2020 draws to a close and we head toward a much-needed holiday break, I want to thank all of you for everything you have done this year.

  • Nearing the Final Stretch of Fall 2020
    Thu November 19, 2020

    It’s hard to believe that for many of us Fall 2020 is in the final wind-down phase, and those of you taking and teaching undergraduate classes will soon be finished with that part of your work for the term.

  • What kind of community are we?
    Thu November 12, 2020

    I am in day 72 of my Cal Lutheran presidency, having arrived at a time when periods are measured in days and weeks rather than years.

  • A gradual return to campus and some of the things we have missed
    Thu October 29, 2020

    With November fast approaching, I want to update you on where the members of Cabinet and the Emergency Operations Committee are in terms of our phased-in repopulation plan.

  • Looking ahead to the late fall and early spring
    Thu October 15, 2020

    I thought it would be helpful to share the current COVID-19-related guidance that has emerged since the President's Update I delivered in early October.

  • Shoring up finances, reconfiguring structures, prioritizing DI efforts
    Thu October 1, 2020

    During my first Operational Update webinar last week, I shared the latest information related to Cal Lutheran’s revenue shortfall and the mitigation strategies the Cabinet aimed to put in place to close the gap.

  • Continuing a faith journey that embodies Lutheran Values
    Thu September 17, 2020

    Sometimes, or should I say “often,” my office staff knows best. Earlier this week, they suggested that I send these notes on the Thursday that falls in between the Connecting@CalLutheran gatherings rather than on the same week. 

  • President Varlotta’s Inaugural Note to Campus
    Thu September 10, 2020

    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.