First CLU employee leaves estate to performing arts center

California Lutheran University has been home to the university’s first employee Ethel Beyer for more than half a century. She never married nor mothered any children. She treated CLU as her second home and the prospective students as her own flesh and blood. Many notable people have made CLU what it is today and now Beyer is added to the prestigious list of donors.

Beyer was hired by founding President Orville Dahl in 1957. She worked many jobs, including in the president’s office, faculty office, grants and scholarship department, business office and administrative assistant’s office.   She continued to work at what was California Lutheran College for 40 years until she retired in 1997. Beyer recently passed away at the age of 104 due to natural causes.

Michael Arndt, professor of the Theatre Arts Department, spoke highly of Beyer.

“She was a very classy woman from a generation in which working women who were not married and chose not to have children was not the norm,” Arndt said.  “She worked in many offices on campus and was always professional. She wore stylish clothes and looked many years younger than she was.”

Before passing on, Beyer wanted her presence to be long-lasting at CLU. In her will, she left a donation of $829,000 and her entire estate to CLU for an art center. This donation has many people excited about what is to come for CLU and were touched by this donation, including ASCLU President senior Andre Andoyan.

“I think it is an amazing act of kindness and can be really beneficial to the arts program,” Andoyan said.

Andoyan attempts to imitate  Beyer’s faithfulness to CLU.

“I try to do my best through ASCLU and I think that one day I would love to give back as much as I could to the University,” Andoyan said.

Professor Arndt showed equal gratitude for the donation.

“The performing arts at CLU have never had a space specifically designed and built for performance but have had to make-do in converted spaces. Ethel’s gift hopefully will motivate other donors to contribute to the cause,” Arndt said.

Beyer was interested in many facets of art, specifically music. She was a talented singer who was a part of many musical happenings around CLU. She also founded the Ethel Beyer Music Scholarship through CLU. The scholarship is awarded to a prospective student who has desire to play the keyboard.

Arndt appreciated the thrill and drive in which Beyer instilled in him along with his students.

“People who are patrons of the arts motivate those who pursue education and careers in the arts. It is not in fashion today to emphasize arts education because it is seen as a frill and not practical. On the contrary, Ethel and other patrons know that arts and culture survive when other elements of a society disappear,” Arndt said.

CLU has been making noticeable strides in becoming a university larger than anyone dreamed it to be. Donations have a huge part in the university’s advancement. Now, Beyer has decided to cement her presence within the university.

Beyer’s voice will forever echo through CLU’s campus. Her lasting impressions on many people will attribute to the hard work and drive that CLU models itself after.

A memorial service for Beyer will be held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 30 at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Donations can be made to the Ethel Beyer Music Scholarship Fund at CLU.


Nicho DellaValle
Staff Writer
Published Oct. 23, 2013