Gratitude in the Messy Middle
Dear Cal Lutheran Community,
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. Perhaps more than ever, this season calls us to lean into the Lutheran values of grace, generosity, service to neighbor, and inclusion — values we have talked a lot about over the last many months.
As we usher in the holiday season, let’s remember that this time of year can be especially challenging for some. Anticipation about tackling end-of-semester assignments, preparing for finals, being personally or financially extended, or not being in a situation where family celebrations are possible or joyful can bring on feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
The beginning of this year’s season has been confounded by tragic events at the University of Idaho, the University of Virginia, and in Colorado Springs. Our hearts are with our fellow classmates, colleagues, and neighbors near and far who are feeling grief and despair. It seems not long ago that our own community mourned the loss of many promising young lives cut short by senseless violence. Standing with our neighbors, in spirit and through prayer or reflection, gives power to our own continued healing and to making the world a kinder place.
As you juxtapose the bright and positive things in your life with the challenging realities that may be affecting you at this very moment, please know there are resources at Cal Lutheran available to you. A few include Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) which offers hybrid sessions, Campus Ministry which provides pastoral care and guidance, and the Employee Assistance Program which can connect staff and faculty members to a number of legal, counseling, and other types of services.
We often say at Cal Lutheran that most of life is lived in the messy middle. As we prepare for the holidays, let us find meaningful ways to reconcile the gratitude and grief that is in our collective midst right now. Let’s embody, this week and throughout the year, grace and gratitude. Let’s create a beloved community and cast a wide net so that everyone is included. I am thankful to all who are fostering such a community at this very moment and for all that you do throughout the year.
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.