California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Budgetary concerns addressed and new academic programs announced at Town Hall

On Tuesday, Oct. 31 President Lori Varlotta hosted a Town Hall to announce California Lutheran University’s initiatives to add two new academic programs and reduce budgetary expenses. 

In an email interview, Varlotta said two new academic programs will be added in the fall 2024 semester, which include a bachelor’s degree in data science and a master’s degree in sports management. 

“We expect both programs to boost our new student enrollment and offer current students new options for a second major or minor,” Varlotta said. 

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Melinda Roper said in an email interview that Cal Lutheran is looking forward to a positive impact on new student enrollment and offering new options for current students. 

Regarding budgetary concerns, Roper said Cal Lutheran has been very careful in the budgeting process to reduce negative effects on students.

“Like so many tuition-driven universities, Cal Lutheran is managing a very tight budget right now. As part of our fiscal management, we are reducing expenses in several areas,” Varlotta said. “Expense reduction is rarely popular, so we did get some respectful pushback.”

There has also been a reduction of expenses, Roper said, in areas that should have the least negative impact on students. 

Several revenue generation ideas, Varlotta said, have been put in place to positively affect tuition revenue as Cal Lutheran’s budget challenges are short-term. Varlotta said these include adding new majors and moving the School for Professional and Continuing Studies to an online format. 

“We are confident that with belt-tightening and revenue generation, our financial future is a very bright one,” Varlotta said. 

The announcements made at Town Hall, Varlotta said, are not going to affect students. She said this is due to the key aspects of Cal Lutheran’s Strategic Plan, which are to put and keep students first. 

Roper said Cal Lutheran’s Strategic Plan is student-centric by design, and the new program implementations are informed by strong student interest and market demand.

“We believe the new academic programs we are adding align both with student interests and with the needs of the job market. Hence it is a win-win,” Varlotta said.

Prior to Town Hall, Roper said multiple meetings and discussions were held with faculty and staff. She said an important part of the inclusivity process was to brainstorm ideas and gather feedback which helped inform strategy development.  

“Therefore, town hall participants were not surprised by the information shared. The meetings and discussions held prior to the town hall also allowed faculty and staff to share their own ideas and feedback,” Varlotta said. “Thanks to their input, we have several strategies we can put in place to move us in a positive direction.”

Michael D. Hart, associate dean of creative and performing arts, associate professor of music and chair of the faculty assembly referred The Echo back to Roper for more information. 

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