A letter from President Lori E. Varlotta

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President Lori E. Varlotta Photo: Tracie Karasik

It seems appropriate to me to write this column on the first day of spring. Just as the season is marked by the promise of renewal and hope, so are many of the projects and events we have undertaken this year.

As you will read in this edition, we live in some of the structures and systems we have begun to build for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); highlighting the timely and relevant research our faculty and students pursue; and celebrate our commitment to helping students, faculty, and staff find and follow their callings or vocations. We also embark on a comprehensive strategic and master planning process fueled by the kind of invigoration that makes spring such an energizing time of year.

Rather than summarizing the interesting stories you will read in this issue, I would like to use this column to highlight some of the priorities and themes that emerge in the planning process.

In higher education, the process is often as important as the outcome. Therefore, we have designed our integrated strategic planning and corporate planning process to be inclusive and transparent, engaging faculty, staff, students, alumni and regents. Over the past few months, more than 300 of these voters have participated in half-day workshops, focus groups, focus groups and more. Our collective work has identified three themes for the strategic plan.

The first theme, a dynamic student experience, will focus on programs and initiatives that ensure our students develop a sense of belonging; participate in high-impact learning activities such as service learning, internships, and guided research; and have access to advanced technology.

Our second theme, building employee satisfaction, focuses on a fulfilling work environment. We are looking for ways to institutionalize cross-departmental and cross-campus collaboration; provide professional development so that employees can learn, grow and prepare for higher-level positions; and strengthen the university’s shared governance system so that staff members, like faculty, have a formal role in providing feedback and recommendations on key decisions.

Our third theme, Distinctive Impact, will inspire us to enhance and leverage the many partnerships we have with corporations, nonprofits, foundations, and other educational entities. It will call on us to identify academic and extracurricular programs, services, and commitments that differentiate from peer and aspiring institutions.

As we formulate the initiatives under each theme, we will consider how we will maintain, renovate and build facilities, green spaces, thoroughfares and other spaces to contribute to all of the above. This work will be part of the process of developing a master plan that will come to life thanks to the financial support of former students, donors and friends who wish to leave their mark on the future of this special place.

But this is just the beginning of our work to create promising change for Cal Lutheran, and I’m glad we’re on the journey together.

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