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Our View: Cal Lutheran’s investments in science and tech will pay off; SLO takes big step with new mayor

By   /   Friday, October 8th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Our View: Cal Lutheran’s investments in science and tech will pay off; SLO takes big step with new mayor

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This month, California Lutheran University is unveiling some big investments in the future of its Thousand Oaks campus.

The Swenson Science Hall, officially dedicated on Oct. 22, will add a 47,000-square-foot facility dedicated to research and science education, that will more than double the amount of available space on campus dedicated to those purposes.

With a booming life sciences industry in the Conejo Valley and a strong presence for semiconductors, sensors and other manufacturers, the CLU pivot to science is long overdue.

The Science Hall is also a nod to CLU’s legacy in Thousand Oaks. It is named for the late Jim Swenson, a chemist and longtime regent, and his wife Sue. The new facility contains 12 labs and meets the standards for LEED silver certification. It will be connected via walkway to the Ahmanson Science Building, now 32 years old, and will breathe new life into science education on campus.

The building itself was completed in 2020, but pandemic restrictions and the closing of the campus delayed the opening and dedication for more than a year.

On Oct. 20, the CLU School of Management is officially launching the Steve Dorfman Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will dramatically expand the university’s teaching capacity and resources in these rapidly growing fields.

Dorfman, a Thousand Oaks resident, is widely viewed as the father of satellite broadcasting and satellite communications. As vice chairman of Hughes Aerospace, he led the teams that developed and launched the first successful telecom satellites. His multi-million-dollar gift funded the center.

The Dorfman center will advance CLU’s Hub 101 business accelerator and help the School of Management develop new initiatives in entrepreneurship and innovation.

These are landmark developments for a campus that has been steadily moving up in academic rankings.

A BIG STEP FOR SLO

In choosing Erica A. Stewart as its next mayor, the San Luis Obispo City Council is taking a bold step into the future while preserving continuity and institutional ties.

Stewart, a City Council member first elected in 2018, becomes the only Black mayor of a major city in the region. She replaced Heidi Harmon, who stepped down in September.

Stewart brings a wealth of experience in community and nonprofit organizations, and a new voice for diversity to City Hall. As a relatively recent addition to the City Council, she represents a clean break from a scandal over marijuana retail licenses that triggered a political tsunami in the San Luis Obispo County.

But Stewart also represents tradition. As vice mayor, she was the logical choice within the City Council to succeed Harmon, and she made the case effectively for a move up to the mayor’s chair.

She is a Cal Poly graduate and former student body president who moved back to SLO after completing a master’s in public administration. She works at Cal Poly as director of student and parent philanthropy, and her appointment should strengthen ties between the city and the university, which plays a huge role in the local economy.

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