Cal Lutheran by the decade

The Cal Lutheran timeline is a long-form research project from The Echo that began in September 2020, just a few months before the university enters its sixtieth year of academics. This project aims to provide context for the university's current social and cultural environment by highlighting and depicting major events throughout its history.

November 25, 2020

California Lutheran University is nearly 60 years old and there is no single source for its documented history. 

As The Echo has covered issues of equity, diversity and inclusion at Cal Lutheran that came to the forefront of the conversation in February 2020, we’ve failed to connect present-day issues with context or explain the root causes. 

While some of the staff worked on an article detailing the experiences of students of color at Cal Lutheran, News and Managing Editor Lindsey Potter began a deep dive into the university’s history.

Isabella Breda, editor in chief, helped organize and conduct supplementary research through interviews with alumni, some of the first professors of color, retired professors, department chairs and associate deans. 

Below is an extensive–though not exhaustive–list of inflection points, growth and change over the years at Cal Lutheran.

Editor’s note: As student journalists, our primary purpose is to educate and inform. Throughout our timeline you may see a recurring theme—that students and/or faculty saw an issue on campus and worked to create change. This is a theme we highlighted as it informs how Cal Lutheran became what it is today. We welcome recommendations for changes or additions to our timeline. Please reach out to [email protected].

1950

1959

California Lutheran College was founded on a ranch donated by Richard Pederson, the son of Norwegian immigrants.

Long before Pederson settled on land, Conejo Valley was home to the Chumash people, who lived in the villages of SatwiwaSap’wi and and Hipuk. Many Cal Lutheran faculty and staff acknowledge the university’s placement on what was originally Chumash lands. These lands were first claimed by Spanish “explorer” Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, displacing the Chumash.

Learn more in this video created by the Friends of the Los Angeles River.

Friends of the Los Angeles River

According to an article by the Thousand Oaks Acorn, “Pederson’s parents, Norwegian immigrants Lars and Karn Pederson, paid $3 an acre for their land in 1890.” Pederson donated his 130-acre ranch in 1957. This ranch would become Cal Lutheran.

July: Laboratory leaks nuclear radiation into Conejo Valley. 

Learn more in this video created by the Santa Susana Field Laboratory Work Group.

Santa Susana Field Laboratory Work Group

According to College of Our Dreams, “the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, built in 1948, was an experimental sodium-cooled reactor designed for commercial purposes… in July 1959, a chemical leaked into the liquid sodium disabling its ability to cool the nuclear core. The Chernobyl-plant did not have a containment dome, and the meltdown vented radiation into the atmosphere. After several more incidents it was shut down in 1964. Cleanup of the sites continued until 2005.” 

 

1960

This section mentions slaves and murder.

1961

Freshman initiation week.

According to “College of Our Dreams,” Freshman Initiation Week signified the induction of the “hapless first-year students. The sophomore class required the ‘Frosh’ to paint ‘CLC’ on the rocks on the side of Mt. Clef, to be subject to a Kangaroo Court, and to gather at a grand bonfire finale. Although heavy rains and fierce winds forced them to cancel the latter event the first year, a ‘sizeable share of fun-tainted misery’ was dished out to the freshman who were required to wear purple and gold beanies, bibs with their names inscribed on them, and to perform certain chores.” 

Alpha Hall under construction, May 1961. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

The first residential students arrive.

When the students moved in, the dorms weren’t quite ready, Karsten Lundring, class of ‘65 alumnus said in a Zoom interview on Oct. 14, 2020. “They didn’t have the doors on the rooms. The showers weren’t working, other than that the rooms were there… it was like three or four days before the showers and the front doors were put on the apartments–we were pioneers.”

According to the 2018 Cal Lutheran Presidential Host Handbook, Thompson and Pederson, originally Alpha and Beta, “were designed with the courtyard in the middle so if the school went bankrupt, they could be easily converted into hotel rooms.” 

1962

February 22: Cal Lutheran College receives accreditation.

Cal Lutheran President Orville Dahl returned from a meeting in Los Angeles with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and announced Cal Lutheran was accredited as a senior liberal arts college. 

“We have that Echo [newspaper] that says accredited on [the front] with letters [all] big–and man that was a huge deal,” Lundring said. “We had this big celebration out between Alpha and Beta or Thompson/Pederson and he brought this report back saying we’re accredited, and I mean, I don’t know if you can imagine the excitement of hearing this, because we all came to an unaccredited school.”

1963

August 28: Students call on religious leaders for a conversation about integrating the Lutheran Church.

According to “College of Our Dreams,” “after the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. students at CLC called upon the Rev. Lee Wesley of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, to lead a three-day retreat on ‘The Church and Integration.’” 

1964

California Lutheran College holds its first commencement in May 1964. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

March: Wesley R. Brazire, executive director of the Los Angeles Urban League, speaks at Cal Lutheran.

“Wesley R. Brazire, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Urban League, also spoke at a special convocation in March 1964, in which he recounted his personal experiences in the ‘battle for human rights,’’ according to “College of our Dreams.”

May: Cal Lutheran holds its first commencement ceremony.

1965 

New freshman initiation ceremony.

According to Maria C. Grago, alumna class of ’69, in “I remember CLC/CLU”, freshman initiation ceremonies included asking freshman to “bend over and touch your beanie and recite ‘I a lowly Freshman salute you almighty Sophomore.”

Faculty members are no longer required to attend convocations and chapel–but students still are, according to “College of our Dreams.”

Cal Lutheran Student Council sent a student to be an eyewitness to the Civil Rights marches in Alabama.

Student Council President George Engdahl and Senior Class President Bill Ewing raised $350 in donations from students, faculty and community members to send Jerry Radke, a 21-year-old pre-medical student, as an impartial observer of the events in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. 

“I had these memories… that came and they were absolutely clear to me about when I was on Student Council in 1965. And we as a Student Council decided to send someone down to march… and he did come back and give a report,” Lundring said.

Willie James Ware, Cal Lutheran’s first Black Student Council Vice President. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

Lundring said the council would have sent an African American student, but there were less than five on campus.

“We probably had what, Lonnie Anderson? I can remember the name, that’s how few [Black students] we had… we were not integrated,” Lundring said. “It was a very very white campus.”

“The race thing isn’t new. You know, it was a big deal then [and] it unfortunately still is.”

March: A ‘Minstrel show’ is proposed.

California Lutheran College Letterman’s Club began rehearsing for a ‘minstrel show,’ “a popular type of entertainment that had originated in the 1830s where white men dressed up as a parody of plantation slaves,” according to “College of Our Dreams.”

“When it was learned that such a performance was planned, two CLC students, Dave Anderson, whose father was active in civil rights groups, and Elwin Josephson, led protests against it, arguing before the Student Council that ‘the shows, if permitted, would be downgrading the cause of civil rights.’ The council then advised the club to have a variety show instead,” the book states.

Only three Black students were enrolled at CLC at the time.

According to Lundring and class of ‘69 alumna and Professor of Psychology Julie Kuehnel, these few Black students included ‘Lonnie’ Anderson and Willie ‘Jim’ Ware. Ware went on to become a Superior Court Judge.

We probably had what, Lonnie Anderson? I can remember the name, that’s how few [Black students] we had… we were not integrated. It was a very very white campus.”

— Karsten Lundring, class of '65 alumnus

1967

Feb. 20: Cal Lutheran students protest campus closures during chapel hour and gain library access.

According to “College of Our Dreams,” 200 students participated in a “silent sit-down strike by two hundred students outside the gymnasium during the chapel service and a letter to the president of the school on February 20, 1967, was effective in ending” required chapel attendance.

“We objected to them closing the library during chapel, because we were like what is this a church? or, you know… so a whole bunch of us got together and we marched up to the president’s office and he was having a cabinet meeting and we marched into the cabinet meeting. And, like, you know, yelled about that and everything, so we did that,” Kuehnel said.

Michaela Reaves, class of ‘79 alumna and professor of History, said at that time Cal Lutheran closed everything during chapel. 

“As a commuter with no car I had nowhere to go so I asked that something stay open so commuters like me had a place to go out of the rain,” Reaves said in an email interview on Nov. 11, 2020.  

May 1: First “Yam Yad” is celebrated.

“That was May Day backwards. And our class is the one that started it and it was a great thing. It was like a surprise to everybody. Nobody knew that it was coming, they woke everybody else with music at like 6:30 in the morning they ran through the dorms and classes were canceled,” Kuehnel said.

Yam Yad was a day full of non-academic fun.

“We went out to Paramount Ranch and they had games contests and all kinds of things and then in the evening they had a hypnotist come and entertain us–all this kind of stuff,” Kuehnel said. “And it was really meant to be community building, you know, and it did, you know, it was very community building.”

1968

Women had strict curfew hours while men did not.

The women’s dorms had a curfew of 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends, but the “boys’ dorms did not,” Kuehnel said. “So it was a really a sexist thing and we objected to it but we never really got very far.”

According to Karen Ingram, alumna class of ’74 in “I remember CLC/CLU” the women residents had a sit-in in their PJs “some with hair in curlers, filled the Mt. Clef foyer. We spent the night singing, playing board games and getting to know each other. I don’t remember sleeping, but I’m sure we did.”

The curfew was abolished the next year, according to “I remember CLC/CLU.”

April 4: Students react to Martin Luther King assassination.

“When Martin Luther King was shot… that was a big thing. We had a big [protest] and marched down Moorpark [road], you know on the median and everything like that, and it was that was a real big deal. We were very much an activist group,” Kuehnel said. “We were all pretty politically active at that time.”

According to “College of Our Dreams” the students asked President Ray Olson to speak. “At the end [of the procession], there were not only students but also people from the churches and the community, and still others who opposed the march so intensely that they were ready to ‘gun me down,’ according to Olson. Noting how agitated everyone was, he carefully begged the audience to consider the complex tasks facing the governing authorities. Olson’s strategy was to step back from the confrontation and ‘take a sober look at what was taking place,’ and try to resolve it.”

 

1970

Cal Lutheran announces it is $3,600,000 in debt.

Faculty salaries are frozen and the size of the faculty is cut from 70 to 63. 1970–71 is known as the year of “tight money,” according to the Cal Lutheran website. “By the end of the academic year, the college ends in the black for the first time in ten years, and the debt is reduced by $80,000. Enrollment nears 1,000.”

The fight for women’s equality gains traction.

Kuehnel said starting in the 70s and continuing through the 80s, the college began “recognizing women and the contributions of women and growing the faculty too–in terms of women–and making sure that there was pay equity which there wasn’t always.” 

“I remember a time when they wanted to hire somebody in our graduate program. And so I spoke with, at the time we had a Dean of Graduate Programs. And so since I was chair of Psychology… he talked about the salary they’re gonna [receive] and I balked. I said, Excuse me? I’m not hiring somebody that is going to make more money than I am,” Kuehnel said.

Cal Lutheran creates the Women’s Resource Center.

1971

Coach Bob Shoup leads the CLC football team to the ’71 NAIA championship.

Coach Robert Shoup. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

1972

February: The Board of Regents appoints Mark Matthews as the acting president.

Matthews, chair of the Business Administration and Economics Department, helped rescue the university from its indebtedness–reducing its debt by $1.5 million, according to the university website.

1976

Origination of the ‘Campus Cruise.’

According to alumnus Mark Gilmore ‘76, in “College of Our Dreams,” “since the sun was the brightest on the south side of Beta, female students designated it as Beta Beach for their afternoon tanning sessions.”

Male students could pay ten cents for a tour around campus, including a “very slow excursion by the ‘beach.’ In this era of the polka dot bikini, the tour was well worth the cost. Conversely, the men’s dormitory, Mount Clef, was the site of the Mount Clef Country Club, where the women would walk slowly to the cafeteria, ogling the muscular men playing volleyball there,” Gilmore wrote.

1979

Cal Lutheran creates the Landry Medal.

According to “College of Our Dreams,” the ‘Landry Medal,’ is named for Dallas Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry, “to honor persons who have ‘made a Christian commitment and a significant contribution to the nation’s youth.’” 

1980

1981

May: Gerald Ford is awarded the Landry Medal.

Former President Gerald Ford, Landry Medal recipient and Jerry Miller dine at a Cal Lutheran award banquet. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

1983

Spring: Roger Staubach, quarterback of the championship Dallas Cowboys, is awarded the Landry Medal.

1984

May 10: Bob Hope receives the Landry Medal.

According to “College of Our Dreams,” Bob Hope “had become acquainted with the school the year before when he was the celebrity guest at the Kim Murray Golf Classic at the North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks.” 

1985 

Nov. 1: California Lutheran College adds graduate schools and becomes California Lutheran University.

1988 

Feb. 14: Cal Lutheran College alumnus speaks out on his experience as a Black cop.

 

1990

This section mentions rape, suicide and racism.

May 3: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan receives the Landry Medal.

“We had a fundraising banquet that was down in Beverly Hills, I think it was at the Beverly [Wilshire], it was very lovely,” Jean Sandlin Associate Dean, Interdisciplinary Studies & Community Outreach, Professor  and alumna B.A. ‘84, M.A. ‘90, P.h.D. ‘12 said in an interview on Nov. 10, 2020. “Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan were kind of the guest speakers. And I remember because I was super pregnant and I had to go down there as Media Relations [for the university] and I had to wear a–I’m not sure if they would have [the pictures]–fancy dress. A dress I  will never wear again and I just remember I was so big I could barely fit behind my steering wheel to get myself down to Beverly Hills I was so pregnant, but anyway yeah and doing all of the media work for the Reagan’s and they did like pictures with some of the donors that wanted pictures.”

Nov. 3: President George H.W. Bush visits campus.

George H.W. Bush speaks at California Lutheran University Nov. 3 1990. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

Despite pushback from the student body, “President George H. W. Bush appeared on campus on November 3, 1990, at a rally to support Republican Senator Pete Wilson’s bid for governor of California,” according to “College of Our Dreams.”

According to the book, nearly 1,000 students and visitors gathered to listen to him speak over loudspeakers across campus. “After the address, the President led the audience to the east side of Kingsmen Park to plant an oak tree. Looking out over the campus and citing the name of the city, he asked for a ‘thousand points of shade,’ or, more correctly, he quipped ‘It’s going to be 1,001.’ When the original tree died, it was replaced by another one at the other end of the park and marked with a plaque commemorating the president’s visit.” 

Kuehnel said one of the primary things she remembers about political appearances at Cal Lutheran is how staged they were. “It was pretty staged to look like it was a lot of people all rah rah and everything.”

Sandlin, who was Cal Lutheran’s public information officer at the time, said she remembers taking extra steps to protect the president from any potential threats.

“I had to first of all get security clearance. And once I had security clearance, I worked with the secret service team to set up where the president was going to be and where they could hold him and all this kind of stuff and I remember working really hard to get a  classroom. for this particular day and then I was really upset because they didn’t end up using it,” Sandlin, said. “Because they do all of these decoy things. it was kind of interesting to get to know how you protect the president kind of thing.”

1991

Cal Lutheran hires its first Black professor.

“What I knew about Cal Lutheran was very impressionistic, and I’m a runner so the first thing you probably brought me to campus was probably your 5K,” Russell Stockard, professor of Communication, said in a Zoom interview on Oct. 19, 2020. “So when I first came on campus, it was still Cal Lutheran College, and you know it seemed like–oh this nice is picturesque and glad it’s here. You know, when you’re an academic you always want to be close to a campus.”

May 9: The President of Nicaragua, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, is presented with the Landry Medal at a black–tie dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles.

The event was attended by stars such as Charlton Heston and Chuck Norris.

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

 

Landry Medal presented to Violeta Chamorro, President of Nicaragua in 1994. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

1992  

Hiring practices start becoming more equitable.

Prior to the early 90s, “the staff was been made up of like friends of friends from local Lutheran churches,” Gregory Freeland, professor of Political Science, said in a Zoom interview on Oct. 14, 2020. 

Freeland, Cal Lutheran’s second Black professor, was hired in 1992.

“Everybody belonged to two or three Lutheran churches here in Thousand Oaks, right, they all belong to each other. And the faculty was pretty much all male. You know, there are a few females around like Julie Kuehnel was around because she actually graduated from here… and the other one… was Michaela Reaves, she also graduated from here,” Freeland said. “In the early days, it was almost like, you know, it was like a real inside community.”

Despite this shift, “Russell Stockard and I have been the only two Black male professors on campus for two decades,” Freeland said.

May 1: Students lead speeches in Kingsmen Park after the Rodney G. King verdict.

Oct. 22: Cal Lutheran holds a play on racism.

Russell Stockard and I have been the only two Black male professors on campus for two decades.”

— Gregory Freeland, Professor of Political Science

1994 

Aug. 8: A local poet produces a magazine discussing racism in Simi Valley and a Cal Lutheran professor says it is necessary.

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

1995 

March: Cal Lutheran presents the Landry Medal to an ARCO oil executive.

July 8: Los Angeles ‘White Aryan Resistance’ stuffs Thousand Oaks mailboxes with racist flyers.

“I believe it could’ve been some supremacist group out there in, you know, out in this area, you know, Simi Valley and so on,” Freeland said.

Oct 3: OJ Simpson is acquitted and Cal Lutheran faculty gathers in media services to watch the verdict.

“I’ll never forget the OJ trial,” David Grannis, professor of Communication, said in a Zoom interview on Nov. 11, 2020. “When like 20 faculty suddenly burst into my door so that they could watch the verdict. And there was this massive, massive screaming of protest when they found him innocent. And I remember one professor from England saying that would never happen in her country.”

1996

Students from professor David Grannis’ broadcast news production class shooting an interview with Holocaust survivor Clara Knopfler.
(Photo courtesy of David Grannis)

Grannis tries to spark interest in starting the Film and TV major.

“You know, it’s funny. Back then, I remember hearing one of the comm[unication] advisers telling one of my students saying, don’t go into film/TV, there’s no future there–journalism is where it’s at, you know, all the jobs are in newspapers. And then you know in the next five years are 50% of the newspapers in America collapse and digital journalism became the thing,” Grannis said.

March: Art Linkletter, a CBS and NBC radio personality, receives Cal Lutheran’s Landry Medal.

 

Art Linkletter, CBS and NBC radio personality, receives Cal Lutheran’s Landry Medal in March 1996. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

The Los Angeles Times reported, “recalling the death of one of his own daughters to drugs, this year’s [Landry Medal] winner, Art Linkletter, 83, said it was a turning point for him in his own work with the young. ‘That terrible tragedy changed my whole life,’ said Linkletter, who has been a strong anti-drug crusader ever since. ‘I began doing all the things that didn’t pay money, but paid in satisfaction.’”

Oct. 31: Jack Kemp, Republican vice presidential candidate, attends Cal Lutheran rally.

“That was the first time I ever saw a big protest at Cal Lutheran,” Grannis said. “He was the Republican nominee [for Vice President]. And at that same time, you know Affirmative Action–it just lost [in 2020] right–but many years ago, you’d have to do some research on it. I thought it was prop 187, and it was up for a vote and that’s the first time it lost, this year is the second time it lost. But there was big protests about that.”

It was odd to have a Republican candidate campaign on campus, Sharon Docter, professor of communication, said in a Zoom interview on Nov. 11, 2020.

“[Kemp came to campus] around the time that… prop 187, which was a proposition that basically said, California should not fund undocumented immigrants for… health care, education, we should not be spending public funds on people who are not documented,” Stockard said. “These people from Thousand Oaks in, you know, sort of the surrounding community, when they’d see Latino or Latina… Latinx students, they would go–in some cases, insane–and start you know telling [the students] to go back to wherever they came from.” 

1997

April 10:  Thousand Oaks Police investigate racist graffiti on campus as a hate crime.

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

“There was a student who was going around with a big, giant felt pen, a big marker, writing the N word. He wrote it on the wall[s] and [was] putting racist literature, I don’t know what kind… under the windshield wipers of Black Cal Lutheran students,” Grannis said. “We had security cameras and went through the footage and found a picture of a guy in a trench coat. And this was after Basketball Diaries came out… that was a movie that inspired the Columbine shooting… in the movie… these guys come in in trench coats and shoot everybody in the class… and this kid had the trench coat. It was a black pen, a black sleeve… we took a freeze frame of that one image, and the officers took them into the chapel, and they showed him the picture and he started crying… he admitted to the whole thing. And that was that, man you know his life was ruined.”

Docter said she also has a strong recollection of the events.

“I think there was concern and shock because it was so overtly racist and so hateful. My recollection is, you know, things like neo-Nazi symbols and racial epithets and such,” she said. “[The] footage was distributed to all of the residents, the RAs to tried to identify who the person was and to try and figure out if it was somebody from the campus community. Once that happened, I actually knew the RAs that identified the person… The university, my recollection is that, they acted pretty swiftly and expelling him and criminal charges were brought against him as well.”

April 15: Student Kevin Tam is arrested, cited for misdemeanor vandalism and expelled.

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

Students sign a poster, committing themselves to prevent racism on campus after a Joe Hicks seminar.

“In terms of the campus community, I think there was, you know, widespread kind of dismay and concern, it led to lots of conversations about hate speech about racism in our classrooms,” Docter said. “There was a forum held and Joe Hicks, who was a famous civil rights leader, came and spoke to the campus community at the time to talk about issues of, you know, systemic racism and, yeah, led to a lot of conversation and dialogue.”

April 16: Los Angeles Times reports on Cal Lutheran’s seminar on racism, led by Joe Hicks.

April 17: The second student involved in the racist graffiti is arrested.

Nov 16: Some Ventura County community members acknowledge the pervasiveness of racism throughout the community

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

Dec 17: Cal Lutheran is praised for its ‘Latino programs.’

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

1999

April 26: A student overdoses on alcohol and dies in their dorm room.

Nov 15:  A student is accused of multiple counts of rape.

Nov 30: The student accused of rape pleads not guilty.

The link to this article will only be available for those with access to Pearson Library.

Dec 13: A student is found dead in their dorm room. 

2000

This section includes the mention of rape.

2000

Faculty starts visibly diversifying. 

“I would say it started in the early 2000s,” Stockard said. “That’s when there started to be a shift and I even saw a whole department becoming more diverse… than communication is; I’m the only person of color.”

Jan 22: Former student faces trial in alleged rape of Cal Lutheran Student.

2001

Sen. George Mitchell was the guest speaker at the 2001 commencement ceremony. (Contributed – Cal Lutheran Media Relations)

May 13: Sen. George Mitchell speaks at Cal Lutheran commencement.

“George Mitchell, you know he was the… Majority Leader of the Senate, and he helped to broker a peace treaty between Northern Ireland and England,” Kuehnel said. “And so he was quite a prominent figure and he came to a graduation and spoke, and, you know, he was lovely.”

2003

A ‘new center’ is proposed after the dissolution of the Women’s Resource Center.

“Following the dissolution of the Cal Lutheran Women’s Resource Center and the successful implementation of a student-focused 2003-06 Irvine Foundation Campus Diversity Initiative grant of $400,000, faculty affiliated with the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and with the Ethnic Studies Program came together to discuss a new Center.”

Feb 5: Dan Reeves, Atlanta Falcon Head Coach, receives the Landry Medal.

April 1:  Freeland begins his Music and the Civil Rights Movement course

2006

Cal Lutheran names John Sladek as the sixth president.

“I mean he thought that being president of the university was like being crowned Emperor, or something,” Kuehnel said. “And he wanted to spend all this money and he did on an inauguration for himself, you know, and everything like that. And, you know, he would call up faculty for things like that to like drive him to the airport, like I said he had a real Emperor complex, you know, and so that really kind of didn’t fit with the whole ethos of Cal Lutheran.”

2007

The Center for Equality and Justice opens.

“[The CEJ and CCEI], they’re from this millennium,” Stockard said. “Especially the CEJ… I think that really made… another home not only for faculty but for students.”

2008

Cal Lutheran replaces Sladek with Chris Kimball, seventh president of Cal Lutheran.

2010

This section mentions anti-semitism, stalking, drug use, sexual assault and lynching.

Feb 18: A swastika is found on a Jewish student’s locker. 

“And I remember there were some, but it was found that that came from off campus, which where some people put swastikas on faculty members doors, particularly those that were Jewish faculty,” Kuehnel said. “But… that was discovered that wasn’t internal that was external because you know our campus is wide open.”

March 25: Anti-Semitic and sexual slurs are scrawled on cars and in dorms at Cal Lutheran.

Sept. 10: More graffiti and swastikas are reported to be on Thousand Oaks garages.

2012

April 11: Alfred Bandura leads a public lecture on campus.

“He’s considered, you know, along with Skinner probably one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, and he was just a lovely person, he, he came we had a little luncheon for him where we just were able to invite like maybe 10 students, and he talked you know he answered their questions he talked about his life, you know I mean he was just absolutely charming,” Kuehnel said. “And then he gave a speech over in the chapel, and the chapel was filled to the roof. I mean, people were standing. And when he finished people lined up to get his autograph on anything they had, I mean he was signing dollar bills, he was signing people’s hands.”

Nov. 28: SWELL is created.

SWELL is a peer education program that branched off from California Lutheran University’s Wellness Programs. The program that trains students to be available for sexual responsibility, education and awareness.

Wellness Programs also provides SWELL educators with condoms and information on how to respond to sexual abuse and how to stay protected during sexual activity, including oral sex.

2013 

April 24: CLU Confessions and CLUt’s accounts are taken down from Facebook for concern that sexual harassment and cyber bullying was taking place.

Sept. 28: A forum on sexual assault is led by Deputy Chief Tim Lohman of Ventura County.

2014

Feb. 26: CLU Empowered hosts MY LIFE, an event aiming to “spread awareness about topics such as racism, identity and gender, while also improving relationships and tightening the sense of community on campus.”

Cassidy Hiltibran signs up for information about studying abroad in Australia. (File Photo Photo by Karina Hernandez – Staff Photographer)

March 12: The study abroad office expands its programs.

“Advancing study abroad–that’s been something that university has made much more important in the past, I’d say 15-20 years,” said Joan Wines, retired Cal Lutheran English professor.

Oct. 29: Civil Rights Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Deborah Lauter speaks to Cal Lutheran about racism. 

2015

Andy Hanson leads Cal Lutheran students through the Tunnel of Oppression in the student union. He said, “When we saw that exit sign, we were able to leave that situation. Others are stuck”.
(File Photo by Madi Schmader – Staff Photographer)

March 25: Cultural and Psychology clubs host an educational experience: Tunnel of Oppression. 

At the event, students learned and discussed different forms of oppression.

Students who participated also signed a pledge that read: “I pledge, from this day forward, to do my best to interrupt prejudice and stop those who, because of hate, would hurt, harass, or violate, the own rights of anyone. I will try at all times to be aware of my biases against people who are different from me, and I will ask questions to learn about these differences. I believe that one person CAN make a difference.”

May 6: A symbolic lynching is held in Kingsmen Park.

“The other incident was supposed to be a learning experience so someone in the religion department said let’s hang the nooses out in the park so people will understand, oh that’s wrong,” Freeland said in a Sept. 9, 2020 interview. “It again had the opposite effect–a psychological effect.”

Sandlin said several students said they were “appalled and frightened.”

“And I know there were several students, because I’ve talked, I’ve talked with them, several students who came out and saw the display, without context… it was not a good situation,” she said.

Sandlin said supposedly interpretive flyers were being provided on the Spine, but not everyone received one. 

July 15: WASC report said Cal Lutheran is lacking adequate diversity among student population, faculty.

According to the report, “Cal Lutheran had made little progress on the 2007 EER recommendation on diversity… achievement gaps exist for African-American students; the team expressed concern that the campus culture for faculty of color may not be sufficiently supportive.”

2016

Cal Lutheran receives Hispanic Serving Institution status.

According to the university website, Cal Lutheran became 25% Latinx [the gender neutral form of Latino/a] in 2013 “and obtained HSI Status in 2016. In 2019, more than 37% of our student population identifies as Latinx.”

Feb. 10: Cal Lutheran hosts its first Difficult Dialogues seminar.

April 13: David Nelson, associate professor of History, defends free speech and the display of confederate flags in an Op-Ed.

“[A professor] in the History Department…had one [confederate flag] in her office,” Freeland said in a Sept. 9, 2020 interview. “She’s a historian and scholar of the Civil War [and] she told us there’s nothing wrong with having that confederate flag in there but the thing is to some people it has a psychological effect… that doesn’t need to be had if she could just take that down.”

Oct. 17: Cal Lutheran 2016 Security and Fire Life Safety Report reclassifies two counts of sexual assault.

Three instances of rape were initially reported.

2017

March 7: Cal Lutheran faculty requests clarifications on Title IX policies.

Some faculty members that attended the discussion expressed concern over the university’s policy of a single investigator assigned to each case. The professors questioned if a panel of investigators during the initial stages of investigation would be beneficial to completing the resolution process.

Molly George, assistant professor of sociology, said she has never reported any cases of sexual misconduct on campus, but is “concerned about the conflict of interest in a single investigation done by administration faculty.”

March 15: Violent Crimes are at all time low according to Tim Hagel, former Chief of Police for Thousand Oaks. 

May 1: Only two Title IX violations reported including one rape and one incident of stalking.

Jim McHugh, associate vice president for Athletic Affairs and former Title IX coordinator, was unable to define sexual assault without referencing the resource manual.

In the interview with The Echo, McHugh said, “I’d have to look up the specifics. I don’t have them all memorized off the top of my head,” McHugh said, then referred to a resource packet and asked, “Is [fondling] listed in here?”

Nov. 13: Faculty and students push back against the development of the Gallegly Center.

The Gallegly Center addition to the Pearson Library has recently gone from a basic frame to a structure with walls. Construction was halted late fall semester and resumed Dec. 18. (File Photo by Rachel Holroyd- Photojournalist)

“Because he’s a Republican also his whole thing was anti-immigration and we just thought that was like such a bad idea,” Kuehnel said. “[Faculty] voted against it, but we were overruled–clearly.” 

August: Dean Jessica Lavariega Monforti is hired to oversee the College of Arts and Sciences.

“You know we have a new dean now too… she’s 180 degrees different than anything we’ve ever had almost building a little empire of the college,” Grannis said. 

Freeland said Lavariega Monforti has paved the way for a more equitable campus environment.

“We have a much more diverse faculty, staff and student body than back in those days [the 90’s] as well. You add all that together and yes, I’d say it’s evolved into a better situation,” Freeland said in a Sept. 9 interview. “Two things had to happen: you have to have leadership at the top that’s going to actually push this along and right now I feel that the dean that we have, Dean Lavariega Monforti–she has put some money where her mouth is.”

Fall-Winter: First visit report from University of Southern California’s Center for Urban Education. 

2018

June 17: Professor of Religion Rahuldeep Gill and Provost Leanne Neilson discuss diversity in hiring, feeling seen, represented in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

2019 

August: Cal Lutheran adds the Film and TV major, two decades after Grannis first envisions it. 

Sept. 18: Cal Lutheran adds the Ethnic and Race Studies major.

Oct. 10: Cal Lutheran posts an opening for an Ethnic Studies professor. 

Nov. 19: The Echo reports on Title IX processes.

Dec. 10: A student reports that a white van has been following her on campus.

Dec. 20: WASC Special Visit, commends efforts to hire more diverse faculty.

“The proportion of full-time faculty of color increased from 17% in 2015 to 29% in 2019, and the proportion of adjunct faculty of color rose from 18% in 2015 to 26% in 2019,” the report said. 

2020

This section includes mentions of racism and sexual assault.

Feb. 6: The Cal Lutheran community receives an email from President Chris Kimball announcing two racist incidents including a video of a student using the n-word, and students allegedly in blackface. 

Feb. 11: BSU spearheads conversations about racism at Cal Lutheran.

The lawyer representing the team who allegedly used blackface said no one involved with the team engaged in any activity wherein anyone was in blackface. 

Black Student Union urges students to take a questionnaire on their biases in early February 2020. (File Photo by Gabby Flores – Photo Editor)

Feb. 18: Students participate in a walk-out for racial justice and discussions continue on campus as Board of Regents announce their special visit.

Hundreds of California Lutheran University students participated in a walkout Feb. 12 to call attention to the lack of action they feel administration has taken in response to two racist incidents that surfaced in early February. (File Photo by Isabella Breda – Editor in Chief)

Feb. 25: Students describe racism on campus to Board of Regents.

March 10: Faculty Senate calls on administrators to address the racial climate.

March 13: Cal Lutheran announces the upcoming transition to fully remote learning because of COVID-19.

March 24: Gill’s office vandalization investigation is found to be inconclusive, one year later.

April 27: President Kimball agrees to reopen the investigation on Gill’s office.

May 12: Angela Naginey is named as the university’s new Title IX Coordinator.

Angela Naginey, a university employee since 1997, was named the new Title IX coordinator earlier this year. (Photo by Isabella Breda – Editor in Chief)

May 20: Shaun Harper holds a final webinar with Cal Lutheran Faculty and Staff that leads to discussion in the Zoom chat. 

August: Cal Lutheran’s partnership with the Coalition for Family Harmony begins.

Cal Lutheran’s new Campus Advocate Dahkotahv Beckham said he strives to connect survivors with a plethora of resources depending on the needs of the individual. (Contributed – Dahkotahv Beckham)

Sept. 1: President Lori Varlotta, the first female president at Cal Lutheran, begins her tenure.

Cal Lutheran President Lori Varlotta. (Contributed – the Office of the President)

Sept. 11: Some Cal Lutheran professors join a nationwide anti-racist teach-in.

Sept. 18: The People Of Color Collective sends a letter to administration asking for specific actions and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Sept. 23: President Varlotta announces university is experiencing a revenue shortfall of nearly $24 million.

Oct. 1: Cal Lutheran lays off 17, furloughs 66 in effort to meet the shortfall.

Oct. 6: President Varlotta agrees to address POC Collective letter asks.

Nov. 3: The first Community Scholars for Black Lives are announced.


Throughout our research, many of our interviewees emphasized the hope that despite the ebbs and flows, Cal Lutheran would remain true to its core values of providing a student-centered education and offering a space for students to find their purpose. 

“Looking at specific events, and some of the events that you are looking at, consider that they’re very short-lived,” Wines said. “They’re temporary things that were dramatic, and had reaction. But the most important thing about the school, the way I look at it anyway, is what’s going on day-by-day, year after year after year. That’s what’s important there. There’s chapel once a week–people can go to that. There’s a core there, it’s still functioning the way it did when the school started. And that’s what’s important.”

“But you know one of the things that I think has remained true is, you know, the emphasis on being student-centered,” Kuehnel said.

“So and we, we obviously feel God has a plan with this place, and he’s not done with it yet,” Lundring said.

 

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