President Varlotta gets to know community ahead of inauguration

Anna Norwalt, Reporter

California Lutheran University President Lori Varlotta prepares for her inauguration by opening her doors to the Cal Lutheran community. Varlotta invited several different clubs and organizations around campus into her home for a meal with the intent on getting to know the students on campus. 

Varlotta became the university’s president in 2020 and was unable to connect with the Cal Lutheran community when the campus went online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s so important to build relationships and I feel that that’s one of the things that all of us got cheated from, you know with COVID-19,” Varlotta said.

During the pandemic the community was also dealing with social and racial inequalities which Varlotta said made the new role harder.

“When you bring a new leader in and there’s literally a global pandemic, you know, health and safety take center stage, understandably so. So, it was hard to focus almost exclusively on physical and emotional health and safety and then budget issues and, you know, in the first year frankly that I was on campus,” Varlotta said.

Varlotta is the first female president that Cal Lutheran has had since it was founded in 1959, and the eighth overall president of the university. 

“So, it’s just now that I’m starting to reach out and start relationships that would have been so natural to build had we not had these unprecedented times,” Varlotta said.

Associated Students California Lutheran University Government (ASCLUG), Student Senate, Programs Board, as well as several other clubs, were invited to come to Varlotta’s house.

ASCLUG President Josh Gatison said that he got to know her better because of this.

“It’s great to have a president who is, you know, open and active about wanting to meet students and try to engage with them in many ways. As many ways as possible,” Gatison said.

On her about page on the Cal Lutheran website, Varlotta mentions the idea that everyone teaches, and everyone learns at a thriving university.

She has a goal of changing theory into practice and words into deeds.

“She is always open to learning more about the students and kind of what CLU does,” Gatison said.

Varlotta wanted to create a space where that could be possible when she came into her presidency.

“If we come into an academic space with the true appreciation of everybody teaches and everybody learns, I just think the learning experience is more vibrant, it’s more multidimensional,” Varlotta said.

This idea requires the whole school, not just one person which was something she made known.

“I think that she definitely does her best to teach and help us grow as leaders, as well as taking in different concerns and opinions and using that to kind of formulate what she does with that in her decisions,” Gatison said.

Along with the ASCLUG Student Senate and the Programs Board, Varlotta invited the Graduate and Professional Student Council, Her Campus, and the Black Student Union to her home.

Varlotta is taking this time to develop her relationships. 

“Relationship building takes time, and we were off to a very odd start,” Varlotta said.

She said she is talking with the student government to plan who comes over to her house next.

“I really hope that in the future that it continues to stay that way and that students continue to learn and grow and succeed in their time here and especially under President Varlotta’s leadership,” Gatison said.