February 23, 2024
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Cal Lutheran regents support embattled university president

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CLU President Lori Varlotta at the university’s library, which houses the Gallegly Center. (file photo)

The Board of Regents of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks said Jan. 17 they continue to support embattled school President Lori Varlotta, who has received a sweeping no-confidence vote from faculty.

“She continues to thoughtfully address the many challenges facing the university, she demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the success of our students now and in the future, and she has our full support,” the officers of the board, speaking on behalf of the full board, said in a statement.

The officers are Board Chair Ann Boynton, Board Vice Chair Bill Camarillo and Board Secretary Ted DeFrank.

Varlotta, the school’s first woman president, has held that position since September 2020.

She was not immediately available for comment.

In a 122-3 vote on Jan. 16, the university’s faculty passed a no-confidence resolution in Varlotta, calling on her to resign or be removed by the board.

The resolution said the faculty has no confidence in Varlotta’s “ability to be an effective steward of the university budget and her ability to maintain the financial health of the institution.”

The resolution said faculty also has no confidence in Varlotta’s ability to “refrain from alienating many longstanding donors and supporters of Cal Lutheran.”

Seventeen major donors to the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement at the university in September demanded reimbursement for donations made toward the development of the center.

Elton Gallegly, a former Republican Congressman from Simi Valley, sued the university in Nov. 2021 for breach of contract, alleging it failed to fully establish the center.

The board’s officers said they have received the no-confidence resolution from the university’s Faculty Assembly “and appreciate the care and concern for Cal Lutheran, as well as the respect for shared governance, that have driven this action.”

The officers said they recognize that universities “nationwide face major headwinds, including pandemic-induced deficits.”

The board has worked closely with Varlotta and fully partnered with her on actions she has taken to navigate the university through unprecedented challenges, the officers’ statement said.

“We know that the steps we must take together to reach financial sustainability can be challenging but we are confident that the institution will succeed under her leadership,” the statement said.

The officers said the board looks forward “to continuing to work in partnership toward our shared goal of a strong Cal Lutheran that serves our students and our community with distinction and pride.”

The school is seeking to move the Gallegly lawsuit litigation from Ventura County Superior Court to Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging pre-trial publicity in the form of news articles and letters to the editor, have hampered the school’s ability to get a fair trial in Ventura County.

email: mharris@pacbiztimes.com