April 5, 2024
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Opinion: California Lutheran must make good on its Gallegly Center commitment


By Michael Bradbury

California Lutheran University should honor its commitment to former United States Congressman Elton Gallegly and fully establish the Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement on its campus.

As a former CLU board member, and an active member of our community, I witnessed firsthand Congressman Gallegly’s longstanding dedication to our country, community, the university, and the people of Ventura County. The Gallegly Center commitment, designed to focus on the importance of public service, is a concept that fits well with the overall mission of a university, especially CLU. The benefits of such a program, which incidentally include the on-going hands-on attention of one of Congress’s longest-serving members, are immeasurable.

Before offering this column for publication, I wrote to the president of CLU expressing some of these concerns. I received neither a reply nor an acknowledgement. I would normally choose to address these matters in private and help the parties work toward a mutually agreeable resolution. I regret not having been afforded that opportunity.

At CLU’s request, Elton and Janice Gallegly agreed to partner with the university to build the Gallegly Center, including a replica of the congressman’s Washington, D.C. office; archive his historical documents and papers; and establish a speaker’s forum to promote discussion of, and solutions to, our community’s and nation’s issues and concerns.

I am personally aware that the Galleglys have worked tirelessly to do everything asked of them by the university to assure the success of the project and secure the necessary funding for the center.

Unfortunately, despite this dedication, the university has added insult to injury by denying the Galleglys access to the center and reneging on its commitment to provide an outside forensic audit of the more than $1 million raised to support the center.

This has, unfortunately, resulted in the need to turn to the legal system to achieve a just result. The matter has been referred to the courts, and the California attorney general, whose responsibilities include oversight of charitable fundraising, has received complaints from donors regarding CLU’s lack of fiscal transparency. This is unsettling under any circumstances, but when it involves an institution of higher learning with church affiliation, it raises additional concerns.

California Lutheran owes it to its donors, staff and students, and our Ventura County community, to both fully account for the donated funds and to fulfill its commitment to the Galleglys and the public to fully develop the Center for Public Service And Civic Engagement.

• Michael Bradbury was Ventura County’s district attorney from 1979 through 2003. He lives in Ojai.