Investing in Ahmanson Science and the Faculty and Students Who Teach and Learn There
Dear Campus Community,
As many of you know, over the course of the last few years, the Cabinet, aided by consultants from Credo, Inc., crafted our far-reaching Strategic and Campus Plans. The Campus Plan included upgrades and expansions to numerous physical facilities on the Thousand Oaks campus. Perhaps the most time-sensitive recommendations we received during the planning process were those associated with upgrades to the Ahmanson Science Center. Those of you who teach, learn, and work in Ahmanson know, all too well, that this 1988 facility is outdated and, at times, downright uncomfortable.
Amongst other issues, the existing roof (part of the original construction) is at the end of its life and leaking in several spots, necessitating replacement rather than patchwork. The building's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, along with its mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and its lighting are neither energy efficient nor cost-effective. Cognizant of these issues, the Cabinet and I prioritized the renovations of this building as a top priority in the Campus Plan. I then presented, to the Board of Regents, a proposal to fund the necessary improvements. That plan was approved by the Board in Spring 2022. It proposed that funds from both internal sources (e.g., the Capital Reserves and Renewal and Replacement Funds) and external sources (grants and gifts that the Development Staff and I would be expected to raise) be used to cover the renovations.
I am pleased to inform you about the progress of the plan, especially as it relates to the securement of external resources.
As of today, two of our grant proposals have been successful. Indeed, Cal Lutheran has received a combined total of $1,731,000 from two foundations in Southern California — The Ahmanson Foundation and the Fletcher Jones Foundation. These awards have come to fruition via the work of Cabinet and others including those in University Advancement: Drs. Regina Biddings-Muro and Lauren Causey, and the small but mighty team in the Office of Sponsored Research and Projects.
The benefits of these grants will go beyond the Ahmanson roof. With an enhanced, modern learning environment, students and faculty will be able to engage in research and experiential learning with appropriate laboratory space and a facility conducive to their areas of study. Additionally, the energy efficiencies will not only reduce operational costs, but take Cal Lutheran another step forward in its sustainability efforts.
I will continue to work with these colleagues to put additional Ahmanson Science Center requests before other foundations and individuals so that we can continue to bring in funds from external sources.
In the meantime, I hope that more and more of us will engage in collaborative efforts like these ones that have produced these very positive results. We are strong and successful when we work together. Thanks to all who helped secure these substantial grants; let’s do it again!
Lori E. Varlotta, Ph.D.
- Remembering Borderline, Five Years Ago
Tue November 7, 2023
Today marks five years since the tragic shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks. Borderline was more than just a hangout place; it was a vibrant gathering spot where students from Cal Lutheran and neighboring colleges came together for the joy of music, dance, and companionship. It was where connections were made, relationships were forged, and life was celebrated.
- Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month, 2023
Mon November 6, 2023
During the month of November, our university celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month to recognize and honor the contributions of Indigenous and Native-identifying communities. Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month prompts us to engage in activities where faculty, staff, students, and friends seek to learn and understand issues that are integral to Cal Lutheran’s commitment to service and justice.
- Investing in Ahmanson Science and the Faculty and Students Who Teach and Learn There
Thu October 19, 2023
As many of you know, over the course of the last few years, the Cabinet, aided by consultants from Credo, Inc., crafted our far-reaching Strategic and Campus Plans. Perhaps the most time-sensitive recommendations we received during the planning process were those associated with upgrades to the Ahmanson Science Center.
- Celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month, 2023
Wed October 11, 2023
Today is National Coming Out Day and the official start of Cal Lutheran’s celebration of LGBTQIA+ History Month. This commemorative month recognizes the positive impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual people have had and continue to have at the local, national, and international level.
- Seeding and Pruning
Thu October 5, 2023
I love talking about the spirit of community during student-focused events like Commencement and New Student Orientation as the topic is a natural one that is easily highlighted during such celebratory events. Over this last week, I have seen the spirit of community manifest itself as we have come together to examine and talk about the challenging issues that are confronting higher education, including Cal Lutheran, today.
- Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month, 2023
Thu September 14, 2023
Tomorrow marks the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, California Lutheran University will honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of the Latinx community in the United States. We begin our celebration on Sept. 15 by recognizing the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The anniversaries of the independence of Mexico and Chile follow on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
- Welcome Back
Thu August 31, 2023
Whether you are a new student or coming back for your final year, let me begin with a warm welcome to California Lutheran University. The 2023-24 academic year is off to a great start. As part of this first bimonthly note, I would like to reflect on some of the festivities that kicked it off and remind you of some events that are scheduled for the coming days.
- Remembering Eloise Cohen
Thu August 10, 2023
It is with a heavy heart that I share news of the passing of Eloise Cohen. Eloise embodied the best of the California Lutheran University community: she was curious, compassionate, graceful, and committed. To say she will be sorely missed is an understatement.
- Exploring Exciting Initiatives for CLU
Thu August 3, 2023
With summer coming to a close, students will be back on campus in a few short weeks. As we prepare to welcome them back for a great academic year, I would like to update you on some of the key projects my team and I have worked on this summer.
- Personnel Updates
Fri June 9, 2023
For most of us, summer is simultaneously slightly slower-paced and highly productive. As part of our productivity, I am pleased to announce that we have made significant progress in filling three important leadership roles.
- Experiential Learning in Festival of Scholars
Thu April 27, 2023
This week marks our 17th annual Festival of Scholars. This tradition celebrates many of the high-impact programs such as student research, service-learning, internships, and capstone projects that make Cal Lutheran a special place to teach and learn.
- AAPI Month Celebrations
Thu March 30, 2023
As we approach Spring Break and Easter, I would like to draw your attention to an upcoming celebration: Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Although nationally recognized in May, Cal Lutheran celebrates AAPI Month in April so that we can offer educational and enriching opportunities to students, faculty, and staff before some of us depart campus in May.
- Recent Town Hall
Thu March 16, 2023
Despite the rain and wind, Tuesday’s Faculty and Staff Town Hall brought over 75 attendees to Lundring for the in-person gathering. For anyone who wants to see or hear the information, a recap of the event is outlined next.
- Celebrating the State of the University
Thu March 2, 2023
With the start of Women’s History Month yesterday, Employee Appreciation Day tomorrow, and our Kingsmen Basketball team playing in the March Madness tournament tomorrow afternoon, there is much to celebrate at California Lutheran University.
- The New Normal and its New Policies and Services
Thu February 16, 2023
Though the pandemic is not completely over, many facets of our day-to-day life have returned to some semblance of normalcy… or perhaps more accurately, the “new normal.” Cal Lutheran administrators like me want to do everything we can to ensure the “new normal” has some relevant and interesting opportunities that make your collegiate experience as satisfying and fulfilling as possible.
- 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.
- Borderline....We remember and honor
Mon November 7, 2022
Four years ago, members of our community were impacted by a harrowing event — a mass shooting — at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.
- 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.