CLU Magazine - Spring/Summer 2023

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The Cal Lutheran community shares stories about the Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes

Treasured Memories

Balancing the narrative in Ventura

From community advocacy to city council leadership, Lorrie Brown is committed to improving the lives of others

Being an effective public servant and improving the human condition has always been an objective for Lorrie Brown ’07, MPPA ’09, whether that means working in government or helping people discover their purpose and potential.

“As a public servant, former councilmember and associate minister, I am committed to systemic change,” she said.

Brown, the first Black member of the Ventura City Council since the city was incorporated in 1866, is a 2022-2023 CLU Outstanding Alumni Award winner, an honor given to Cal Lutheran graduates with distinguished records of career achievements or humanitarian endeavors dedicated to social reform.

At Cal Lutheran, Brown was part of the Adult Degree Evening Program’s first cohort — now called the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals — and served as managing editor of The Echo She’s also been an alumni ambassador and has sponsored the university’s Community Scholars for Black Lives program. She ran for Ventura City Council in 2018 to address injustices in institutional policy and promote economic development initiatives, using her work experience in community development.

“I would introduce new narratives, diverse perspectives … have difficult conversations and, most of all, design policy initiatives to move the city forward,” Brown said. “Although my election was unprecedented, as the first Black councilmember, I am most proud of my ability to lead, influence and find common ground … we got a lot of work done.”

While on the council, she wrote and negotiated the adoption of key diversity, equity and inclusion policies, including a resolution declaring racism a public health issue and denouncing police brutality, and implementing the progress initiative, aimed at addressing affordable housing and economic development. Ventura was the first city in Ventura County to do so.

She also fought nonstop for the Ventura Fire Department until a hard-won five-year strategic plan was adopted; identified a way to save $400,000 for city residents during an $11 million shortfall in 2020 as chair of the Finance, Audit & Budget Committee; protected employees by demanding furloughs and temporary freezing of public positions instead of layoffs; and promoted water conservation and pushed to approve development plans to diversify water resources while serving as chair of the Economic Development Committee and delegate to the Southern California Association of Governments.

Tragically, on July 21, 2022, Brown’s youngest son, Jeremiah, was killed while on vacation in Orlando, Florida. In the midst of this tragedy, she found the courage to run for office again.

“My son was proud of how I fought, so I continued to fight,” she said.

Brown lost her reelection bid in November 2022, but said she is satisfied: “I accomplished the work I set out to do and fought the good fight.”

Brown is still involved in policy making, still giving residents voice and working in her community. She was reelected state delegate for the 37th District of the California Democratic Party for the third time in a row. Previously the chair of Ventura’s General Plan Advisory Committee, she now continues as a community member of the City Council-appointed group.

Lorrie Brown ’07, MPPA ’09, values improving the lives of others. She received Cal Lutheran’s Outstanding Alumni Award, which is given annually to a Cal Lutheran graduate with a distinguished record of career achievements or humanitarian endeavors dedicated to social reform.

As challenging as this past year has been, Brown said she had help. “Many people prayed for me, and those prayers have surrounded me with peace that surpasses understanding,” she said. “It was those prayers that got me through the terror of losing my child.”

Brown works for the county of Ventura as a care coordinator for Whole Person Care, a CalAIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal) program that coordinates wrap-around services for at-risk patients. Since 2015, she has owned Final Polish, a writing, media and communications business that helps nonprofits and business professionals enhance and develop their brand, design their future and lean in to their purpose.

In addition to focusing on her personal wellness, Brown, an accomplished writer, distinguished speaker and experienced facilitator, wants to use her career experience and professional expertise to educate others. In 2009, she took a nonprofit management course and held her first board retreat. She looks forward to the opportunity to give back to Cal Lutheran working with its Center for Nonprofit Leadership program or Distinguished Speaker Series, or lecturing in a classroom.

Brown hopes that by telling her story, her life will serve as inspiration to others and help them create their own narratives.

Out in Front

The Rev. Scott Adams, Cal Lutheran's campus pastor, said he believes in being present, available and accessible.




A faith-friendly focus on the future


• University receives grants worth $9.1 million.

• Enrollment rebounds for 2022-23.

• Deaf-education program founder retires.


• Water polo team in national tourney.

• Spring sports wrap-up.




The Rev. Rachel Eskesen does humanitarian work in Europe.


A $2.5 million donation creates a new scholarship model at Cal Lutheran.


Community shares its thoughts on the late Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes.


The Rev. Scott Adams is the university's first Black and non-Lutheran pastor.


Initial stages focus on improving the student experience.




Linda Martinez


Bree M. Montanarello


Carley Doyle

Steven Guetzoian

Karen Lindell

Kennedy Lum

Sharon Nelson


Rachel (Ronning ’99) Lindgren

Anthony Lugo

Angela (Moller ’96) Naginey, MS ’03

Michaela (Crawford ’79) Reaves, PhD

Bruce Stevenson ’80, PhD

Anita Stone, PhD


Copyright 2023.

Published twice a year for alumni, parents and friends. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of Cal Lutheran nor the magazine staff.


CLU Magazine

California Lutheran University

60 W. Olsen Road #1800 Thousand Oaks, CA 91360-2787 805-493-3151

CLU Magazine welcomes letters to the editor. Please include your name, phone number, city and state, and note Cal Lutheran graduation years.

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ON THE COVER: Cal Lutheran lost a special member of its community with the passing of the Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes.

CLU Magazine welcomes ideas for articles and nominations for Vocations alumni essays


A faith-friendly focus on the future

As I reviewed the outline of features, updates and memorials planned for this edition, I was reminded how blessed I am to lead a futurefocused, faith-friendly institution where service is prioritized and practiced; where innovation is not only encouraged but financially supported; where the rhetoric of DEIJ is translated into reality; and where foundations, government agencies and other entities not only “see” the promise here but recognize the value in financially supporting and bringing that promise to life. Indeed, articles in this edition illuminate many of the successes we are experiencing in all those areas.

These successes haven’t emerged from happenstance. They have been catalyzed — in significant part — by the purposeful, inclusive and transparent planning processes that have brought myriad constituents together to design and begin the implementation of three crucial and concurrent plans:

1. The 2022-2027 Strategic Plan that aims to strengthen the student experience, the vibrancy of the work environment, and the university’s impact on its greater community;

2. The new Campus Plan that focuses on facility improvements and construction, the more effective use of our natural environment, and signage for our thoroughfares and pathways; and

3. Our inaugural DEIJ plan that maps out how we build on and integrate programs and services related to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

Working simultaneously on the design and implementation of three major plans can be daunting. Developing them in tandem, however, ensures that the goals and action items of each plan are connected and coordinated. The result is a cohesive integration of goals, objectives and measurable outcomes that keep us future focused.

Our history of being strongly rooted in the ELCA and our commitment to being open to those who worship a different God or another Divine is captured by the other adjective I used above — “faith-friendly.” In this sense, faith-friendly might be likened to “veteran-friendly” or “gay-friendly,” other linguistic constructions that have gained recognition and popularity in American higher education. Like many universities, we too are veteranfriendly and gay-friendly, loudly and clearly communicating our intent to create a sense of belonging for veterans and the LGBTQ+ community.

Relying on the well-established connotations of these other terms, we lean into our faith-friendly identity. Accordingly, as a faith-friendly university, Cal Lutheran encourages all our community members to exude an open mind and heart as we engage each other in conversations about faith; as we invite others to our religious and spiritual ceremonies; and as we actively study faith traditions different from our own. The article on our new university pastor may further elucidate what it means to be faith-friendly.

The intersection where future-focused meets faith-friendly is unique in higher education. It is the special place where Cal Lutheran lives and thrives. I believe we can own this space by making it one of our true distinctions. Read on and let me know.

A Letter from President
Lori E. Varlotta
“In higher education, the process is often as important as the outcome.”

University receives federal grants worth $9.1 million


In 2022, Cal Lutheran received a total of $9,077,098 from five federal grants. The grants support ongoing or new programs that serve low-income and underrepresented students, promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teaching, and educate leaders for a global society:


Lori E. Varlotta, PhD President

Leanne Neilson, PsyD Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs

Regina D. Biddings-Muro, EdD, Vice President, University Advancement

Rick Ysasi, Interim Vice President, Administration and Finance

Cristallea K. Buchanan, MS, Vice President, Talent, Culture and Diversity

The Rev. Melissa Maxwell-Doherty ’77, MDiv ’81, Vice President, Mission and Identity

Melinda Roper, EdD Vice President, Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Matthew Ward, PhD Vice President, Enrollment Management and Student Success

Thomas Knudsen, JD, General Counsel

Taiwo Ande, PhD, Senior Associate Provost

Gerhard Apfelthaler, PhD Dean, School of Management

Lisa Buono, MS ’04, EdD ’11, Dean, School for Professional and Continuing Studies

Michael Hart, DMA, Chair, Faculty Senate

Timothy Hengst, MA, Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Michael Hillis, PhD, Dean, Graduate School of Education


More than $3.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education to continue and expand the university’s TRIO Traditional Upward Bound services to prepare low-income college students from high schools in Oxnard, Hawthorne and Lawndale to continue their education.


$1,309,430 over five years to continue the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which supports students from underrepresented segments of society who want to attain doctoral degrees.



$2,807,976 from the U.S. Department of Education for the Vocational Identity and Talent in Academic Learning (VITAL) program, to help increase retention and completion rates among Hispanic and low-income students, and support them in preparing for careers.

Up to $1.2 million over five years from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program for Teacher Experiences Advancing Mathematics and the Sciences (TEAMS), a project to encourage STEM majors and STEM professionals to pursue careers in K-12 teaching, especially in high-need school districts. "We want students to realize that teaching math and science is a promising career," said Michael Cosenza, EdD, the project’s principal investigator.


$159,692 from the U.S. Department of Education for the Embracing Spanish for the Professions at Home and Abroad (ESPHA) program to help improve instruction in global studies and languages.

Rick Holigrocki, PhD, Dean, Graduate School of Psychology

Ryan Medders, PhD, Chair, Faculty Assembly

Christina Sanchez, PhD, Associate Provost, Global Engagement

The Rev. Raymond Pickett, PhD Rector, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

The Rev. Alicia Vargas, MDiv ’95, PhD, Dean, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary


Bill Camarillo, Chair

Randy Foster, Vice Chair

Ann Boynton ’83, Secretary

The Rev. Phyllis Anderson, MDiv, PhD

Linda Baumhefner

The Rev. Jim Bessey ’66, MDiv

Andrew Binsley

Mary E. Boyce

Ted DeFrank

Tracy M. Downs ’88, MD

Rod Gilbert, H ’16

Gita Gupta

Arnold Gutierrez, PhD

Anne Hill

Laureen Hill '83

Bishop Deborah Hutterer, MDiv

Bishop Richard Jaech

Susie Lundeen-Smuck ’88

Malcolm McNeil, JD

Carrie Nebens

Nkem Ogbechie

Debra Papageorge, MTS ’12

Michael Soules

Deborah Sweeney

Lori E. Varlotta, PhD

J.R. Woods

The mission of California Lutheran University is to educate leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation, and committed to service and justice.

SPRING/SUMMER 2023 5 Highlights
Michael Cosenza

News briefs


As the 2022-23 fall semester got underway, new student enrollment numbers nearly rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Of the nearly 850 undergraduate students who entered Cal Lutheran for the first time this fall, around 60% are students of color; 43% are the first in their families to attend college; and 4% are international students. Total undergraduate enrollment is approximately 2,440. “Year-to-date our first-year numbers are up 22% and our transfer numbers are up 39%,” said Falone Serna, dean of undergraduate admission and outreach. Cal Lutheran President Lori Varlotta said the university’s “robust scholarship strategies are doing a great job in removing some of the financial barriers that make it challenging for students from lower- and middle-income families, and those from underrepresented groups, to attend.” Cal Lutheran also has about 1,100 graduate students. There are 117 new international graduate and undergraduate students from 26 countries including Iran, Spain, Peru, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. “The pandemic actually helped us reach more students in more countries,” said Dane Rowley, director of international admission. “We’ve integrated virtual recruitment into our outreach, which allows us to connect to countries we’ve never been to.”


Maura Martindale, the founding director of Cal Lutheran’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program for prospective teachers, retired with emeritus status in May 2022. An associate professor in the Graduate School of Education’s Department of Learning and Teaching, she developed the university’s two-year, part-time program to prepare teachers to work with the growing number of children with cochlear implants and digital hearing aids whose families request spoken-language programs in general education settings. Candidates can earn a preliminary education specialist credential and a master’s degree in education of the deaf and hard of hearing. Cal Lutheran’s program is the only one in California focused on spoken language that prepares teachers to work with students older than 6. In 2011, Martindale received a $1.2 million grant for the program from the U.S. Department of Education to address the shortage of teachers prepared to work with those who are deaf and hard of hearing. In 2014, she received the Graduate School of Education’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching.



Candice (Cerro ’09) Aragon, President

Jean Helm, MBA ’00, Vice President, Alumni Involvement & Recognition

Irene (Tyrrell ’00) Moyer, Vice President, University Relations

Mark Schoenbeck ’96, Vice President, Development

Joshua Carter-McHale, MBA ’21, President-Elect

J.R. Woods ’93, Board of Regents Representative

Erin (Rivers ’97) Rulon, MBA ’06, Immediate Past President/ At-Large Representative


Ulises Castro ‘20, MS '23, Graduate and Adult Student Council

Johanna Owens ’10, MS ’13, EdD '22, Staff

Gregory Pimentel ‘23, ASCLU-G

Angela Rowley ’02, MS '05, Faculty


Sergio Galvez ’03, MPPA ’09

Oscar Madrigal ’06, MPPA ’10

Wes McCurtis ’14

Cristy Richey McNay ’03, MA ’13, EdD ’17

Paulina Nunez ’17, MPPA '18

Reggie Ray ’92, MBA ’04

Felecia Russell ’13

Brandi Schnathorst, MBA ’10


Andrew Atakpo ’15

Joanne (Satrum ’67) Cornelius, MA ’74

The Rev. Russ Gordon ’76, PLTS '80

Kim Poast ’88, MS '92, PhD

Melissa Wade ’96


Rachel (Ronning ’99) Lindgren, Senior Director

Steven Guetzoian, Associate Director

David Avila '16, Coordinator

Carley Doyle, Administrative Assistant

6 CLU MAGAZINE Highlights
The Class of 2026 poses during activities for new students before the start of the school year. TRACIE KARACIK
YOUR gift to the Annual Fund supports the greatest needs across campus and makes the biggest impact in the lives of our students. For more information, contact: Michelle Spurgeon, Senior Director of Annual Giving (805) 493-3157
desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.”

Men’s water polo team reaches national tournament

Spring sports wrap-up


The Kingsmen won the 2022 SCIAC Tournament Championship and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Since the move to Division III, the Kingsmen have been to the NCAA Tournament 16 times. Zach Bullard, Brendan Durfee and Kyle Reuser earned Second Team All-SCIAC honors.

The Cal Lutheran men’s water polo team came up just short of a national championship in December as the Kingsmen fell to the Redlands Bulldogs 11-6. It was a historic season for the Kingsmen as they won their first SCIAC Tournament Championship and advanced to the Division III Collegiate Water Polo National Championship.

Adam Dow led with two goals, and Luke Matthies, Dillon Goldsmith, Johnny Wotowa and Justin Boals had one each. Ben Brown helped facilitate the ball and dished out four assists. Bo DuBois in the cage made eight saves and added one assist. Goldsmith was a big help defensively and had three steals.

Cal Lutheran defeated MIT 17-7 in the semifinals before advancing to the championship. Brown and Goldsmith were named to the USA Water Polo All-Tournament Team.

The water polo season was an amazing run for the Kingsmen, with many program firsts, and the team continues to build a legacy at Cal Lutheran. The Kingsmen look to rebuild and get back to the next national championship tournament.


The Regals performed well on the field and off. The team posted a high GPA, and 12 individuals earned Easton/ National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete honors. Mia Onesto was named Second Team All-SCIAC for the second straight year.


The Regals have improved every year in their short three-year history and had a few firsts. Cameron Mendez was named Second Team All-SCIAC and she was joined by Arielle Esparza and Sloan Sanders, both of whom were the program’s first All-SCIAC honorees. The program also got its first win in 2022.

Sports Briefs


The Kingsmen made noise at the annual Ojai Tournament. Jacob Bear and Griffin Biernat won the doubles draw for independent colleges. The independent bracket included D-III, D-II and NAIA colleges. Darvel Lossangoye was named Second Team All-SCIAC.


The Kingsmen finished sixth at the SCIAC Championships, and JP Guimaraes Jr. was named Second Team All-SCIAC. Guimaraes Jr. was joined by teammates Derek Hahn, Garet Needham and Jimmy Solano as they earned Srixon/Cleveland All-America Scholar honors.


The Kingsmen placed eighth at the SCIAC Championships, and Brendon Carbullido won the triple jump as he was named All-SCIAC. Cooper Curtin earned All-West Region honors for pole vault and set a program record. The team earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors.


The Regals made the SCIAC Tournament. Lexi Rond was the Offensive Athlete of the Year and First Team All-SCIAC, while Izzy De Souza and Kemi Dijkstra landed on the Second Team. Rond also garnered First Team All-America honors, and Kaitlin Gardhouse, De Souza and Dijkstra were Honorable Mention. The team earned AllAcademic honors.


The duo of Carmen Bufkin and Brennan Foreman made the deepest run of the annual Ojai Tournament. They were the first Regals team to win a tournament title, which is a D-III West Region Championship. Bufkin was named First Team All-SCIAC and Foreman earned Second Team honors.


The Regals took third place at the SCIAC Championships, with two golfers in the Top 10. Jett Legacion was named First Team All-SCIAC, Ashley Zook earned Second Team honors and Grace Cornejo garnered the Character Award. The quartet of Cornejo, Legacion, Grace Mitchell and Tara Ng were named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association AllAmerican Scholar Team.


The Regals placed eighth at the SCIAC Championships as Sarah Bjornson, Jolie Caya, McKenzie Gerken and Zaria Opara were named All-SCIAC. Opara was named All-West Region in the hammer throw, and the team received AllAcademic honors from the USTFCCCA.


The Kingsmen had a program first as they knocked off UC Santa Cruz. Just falling short of their ultimate goal to make the NCAA Tournament, the Kingsmen finished 17-9 on the season. Men’s volleyball is an independent sport because the SCIAC conference does not have volleyball. The team must compete for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Darvel Lossangoye Carmen Bufkin JP Guimaraes Jr. Jett Legacion Cooper Curtin Jolie Caya Izzy De Souza

Joyce Ann Geeting 1944-2022

Jerry L. Schmalenberger 1934-2022

Judy Larsen, PhD, a technology researcher and former Cal Lutheran regent and philanthropist, died Dec. 3, 2022, at age 80.

Born in Moorhead, Minnesota, Larsen was the oldest child of high school teachers Harry and Helene Kaeding. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, then a master’s degree in psychology at Syracuse University in New York.

In 1965, Larsen drove to Palo Alto, California, where she worked at Philco-Ford as a human factors engineer, and in 1967 married her husband, Nick Larsen. Judy Larsen then earned a PhD in social sciences, with a concentration in statistics and research methods, from UC Santa Cruz, and in 1982 founded her research company, Cognos. In 1984, she and Stanford professor Everett Rogers co-authored Silicon Valley Fever: Growth of High-Technology Culture. Larsen also worked at Dataquest, leading researchers in the Middle East, and at AC Nielsen in Chicago.

A lifelong Lutheran and philanthropist committed to the idea of a seminary in the West, Larsen supported and served on the boards of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS), California Lutheran University and the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley.

She began her term as a Cal Lutheran regent in 2014, focusing on initiatives to help students live, lead and serve in a changing world.

Cal Lutheran President Lori E. Varlotta said Larsen’s “sizable and recurring gifts allowed PLTS to expand the reach of the gospel by making theological education accessible to more people, in more places, in more nontraditional ways.”

She provided financial support to students at PLTS for more than 30 years through the Seminary Fund; Theological Education for Emerging Ministers (TEEM); and Remember the Future, PLTS’ planned giving society.

Larsen loved hiking, travel, books, cats, opera and hosting guests at her 1930s brick home.

“Judy was a servant leader in the most quintessential meaning of the term,” Varlotta said. “We grieve her loss even as we honor and celebrate her life well lived.”

She is survived by her husband; brothers Paul Kaeding (Jeanne) and John Kaeding (Toni); and nephews Gus and Sten Kaeding.

Joyce Ann Geeting, a former cello teacher, adjunct professor and artist-in-residence at Cal Lutheran from 1990 to 2016, died peacefully on Oct. 19, 2022, in her Canoga Park home at age 78.

Born in Pacific Grove, California, on April 7, 1944, to John Hoff and Wilhelmina (DeVries) Nordvik, Geeting spent most of her childhood and teen years in Oakland, California, graduating from Oakland Technical High School in 1961. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Washington in 1965, a Master of Arts from Washington State in 1969, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Oregon in 1978. She was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Mu Phi Epsilon; taught at the collegiate level in Montana, Iowa, Wisconsin and California; and instructed many private cello students.

She was principal cellist with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra (1989 to 1995) and also played with the Inland Empire Symphony Orchestra (1985 to 1992). Geeting founded Chamber Music Plus in 1982 and was the organization’s director for more than 35 years. An acclaimed solo and chamber musician, Geeting performed extensively in the United States and Europe. In 2003, with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Geeting played the world premiere of American composer Carol Worthey’s Elegy for Cello & Orchestra, a work she commissioned inspired by the events of 9/11.

In 2008 Geeting wrote János Starker, King of Cellists, The Making of an Artist, a biography of the Grammy-winning musician, whom she had studied extensively. In 2014 she received the Outstanding Studio Teacher Award from the American String Teachers Association.

Geeting is survived by her husband, Dr. Daniel Meredith Geeting, a part-time teacher at Cal Lutheran starting in 1980 and professor of music from 1984 to 2016, now professor emeritus. Joyce Geeting was previously married to John Robert Knoll, who died in an airplane accident in 1972. She is also survived by her three sons, Dr. Glenn (Knoll) Geeting ’89 and his wife Heather; Loren (Knoll) Geeting ’92; Preston Russell Geeting ’02 and his wife Nicole ’02; and 10 grandchildren.

The Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Schmalenberger, president and professor of practical theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary from 1988 to 1996, died April 25, 2022, at age 88.

Schmalenberger was born in Greenville, Ohio, the son of Harry Henry and Lima Marie Hormell Schmalenberger. He attended the seminary at Wittenberg University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1956, followed by a Master of Divinity in 1959 and a Doctor of Ministry in 1976 from the university’s Hamma School of Theology. Wittenberg awarded Schmalenberger an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1983.

Schmalenberger was ordained in his Ohio home church, St. Paul’s, and before coming to PLTS, served as the pastor of five congregations in Ohio and Iowa.

At PLTS, Schmalenberger taught administration, homiletics, evangelism and stewardship. Following his retirement, he continued to teach at the seminary. He was pleased that 33 of his former students went on to teach theology, and he continued to mentor them throughout his life. Schmalenberger also served 16 years as a global mission volunteer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and is the author of 35 books and numerous articles.

“Everyone at PLTS and California Lutheran University extends heartfelt gratitude to Jerry for his life’s ministry and especially for the dedication, faithful service and hard work he invested into the mission of the seminary,” a PLTS spokesperson said. “For many years after Jerry’s retirement, Jerry and his wife, Carol, volunteered their time, attended lectures and special events at PLTS, and did everything they could to support current seminary students. We send our blessings to Jerry as he has entered the church triumphant, and we send our prayers to Carol and their whole family as they mourn his loss.”

He is survived by Carol, his wife of 65 years; his sister Doris Stickel; his three natural children, Stephen Schmalenberger, Bethany Berger and Sarah Layton Wallace; foster children, Gene Schneider, Celia Mellad, Marylynn Hartsel, Beatriz Simonassi and Lorpu Davies Wolofar; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his parents, older sister Jane Ross, and sons Arthur Eubanks and James Schneider.

In Memoriam 10 CLU MAGAZINE

James Gottlieb Wenzel



James Gottlieb Wenzel, a noted ocean engineer and member of Cal Lutheran’s Board of Regents, died Oct. 26, 2022, at age 96.

Born in Springfield, Minnesota, he was one of four children of Elvira and Gottlieb Wenzel. After graduating from high school in 1944, he joined the Navy for two years, then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from the University of Minnesota. While in college he went on a blind date with Elaine Joyce Abrahamson, and proposed to her just two weeks later. After they married in June 1950, they moved to San Diego, where Wenzel worked at Convair as an aeronautical engineer, then at General Dynamics Corporation. In 1960 he began working for Lockheed Missiles & Space Company in Sunnyvale and in 1962 moved to Saratoga. After leading Lockheed’s Ocean Systems Division until 1977, he served as president and chairman of Lockheed’s Ocean Minerals Company until 1984, then started his own company, Marine Development Associations Inc.

Wenzel was a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Naval Academy of Engineering, and Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers; and a fellow of the Marine Technology Society. In 1988 he received the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering.

He was a member of Cal Lutheran’s Board of Regents from 1975 to 1978, and received an honorary doctorate in humane arts from the school in 1985.

Always active in the Lutheran church, Wenzel sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and served as chair of Lutheran Lay Renewal Northern California and chaplain of the Saratoga Men’s Club.

He enjoyed fishing, playing cards, woodworking, dancing, scuba diving, traveling and rooting for local professional sports teams.

Wenzel is survived by his four children, Lori Lynn Taylor (Ross), Jodi Ann Bjurman (Phillip), Sheri Lee Wenzel (Beth), and James Gottlieb Wenzel II (Kellie); his sister Audrey Schubbe; and grandchildren Douglas, Kelli and Daniel Taylor, and David, Derek and Gregory Bjurman. He and Elaine had been married for 62 years when she preceded him in death.


First, the not-so-good news: Over the next few years in Ventura County, inflation will still be high (meaning costlier grocery bills), and economic growth slow. But here’s the positive news: The county doesn’t appear to be headed toward a recession. Matthew Fienup, executive director of Cal Lutheran’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, delivered that outlook in February during CERF’s annual presentation at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

Even though “underlying weaknesses” such as housing shortages and a declining population are dampening economic recovery after the pandemic, Ventura County’s future is still strong, Fienup said, according to a report in the Ventura County Star: “Something is changing. The attitude about growth, the courage of policymakers is making a big difference.”

For example, he said that after the worst of the pandemic, Ventura County schools and businesses opened earlier than those in other areas, and the Port of Hueneme welcomed shippers avoiding crowded waters in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Although CERF doesn’t forecast a recession in Ventura County or the U.S., Fienup said inflation will likely be “stubbornly high” over the next couple of years, and the county’s GDP growth (adjusted for inflation) will be slow: 1.3% in 2023, 0.7% in 2024 and 0.3% in 2025, lower than the amounts predicted for California and the U.S.

But “the medium- to long-term forecast is a bright one,” Fienup said, in part because the county is working to issue more building permits, which will likely lead to more affordable housing. Plus, biotechnology companies in the Conejo Valley are doing well. Ventura County is “still a place where innovation reigns,” he said. Ventura County Star | Feb. 22


In 2009, José Hernández, who had been rejected 11 times by NASA to become an astronaut, finally flew on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Getting into NASA’s training program, however, wasn’t Hernández’s first hurdle in life. As he told public radio station KCLU in October, he had wanted to be an astronaut since he was 10, but at the time he and his family were migrant farmworkers, spending most of the year in California and the remainder at their home in Mexico. He didn’t even speak English. But his father believed in his son’s dream and put him on the path to space, encouraging him to work as hard at going to school as he did at picking produce. “The best thing I could have done was to share that dream with my father,” said Hernández, who spoke in October at Cal Lutheran’s Latinos in STEM lecture. He eventually earned a graduate degree in engineering and joined NASA in 2004. Hernández is also the author of a memoir, Reaching for the Stars; Amazon Studios is working on a film based on the autobiography starring Michael Peña. KCLU | Oct. 21


A sign for help stands outside St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in central Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 22, 2022. The remains of cars and military tanks destroyed in the battle of Kyiv sit near the monastery.


The Rev. Rachel Eskesen’s call to serve leads her to humanitarian work in Europe.

take the book for a walk or place it beneath your pillow and see if any action is forthcoming

— J.T. Ledbetter, CLU professor emeritus of English, from his poem “to the person considering reading Proust”

To the Rev. Rachel Eskesen ’04, MA, MDiv ’14, the work of a pastor can look remarkably similar to the work of an English professor.

Eskesen should know. A Cal Lutheran English literature major who graduated in 2004, she went on to earn an MA in English at Leeds College in England, then attended Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary to earn a Master of Divinity in 2014.

Eskesen now lives in Munich, Germany, where she serves as director of the Europe desk for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). One aspect of Eskesen’s work is nurturing the ongoing relationships with ELCA partners across Europe. In 2022, that included working closely with her team and ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response to coordinate ELCA’s support for regional partners and their humanitarian response to the needs of refugees arriving from Ukraine.

As an undergraduate at Cal Lutheran, Eskesen said she was “heavily influenced” by her time in the English department, and by one professor in particular, J.T. Ledbetter, a published poet “who guided us into embracing the overlap between religious study and literature study. I still believe that faith and God are often experienced in the in-between spaces, the liminal spaces, and poetry … can help guide people to those spaces and experience the fullness of God.”


Eskesen has always made space for God in her life, but she reluctantly accepted her initial call to be a minister. A native of Auburn in Washington state, she grew up an active member of her Lutheran church, and after graduating from Cal Lutheran served as an ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer in Cairo, Egypt, with Saint Andrew’s Refugee Services. She then returned to Washington to organize an after-school math program for at-risk youths.

Eskesen said she felt called to attend seminary, but resisted at first because she couldn’t see herself as a pastor, and instead got her MA in English. Eventually, she decided to switch vocations, in part so she could represent God through active pastoral work in the real world.

“The God I saw represented in more public-facing and louder expressions of Christianity was nothing like the God I know,” she said. “The God I know is present in relationship and connection, and I kept seeing people make God so small that God couldn’t be outside of a church building and active in the world.”

Eskesen also realized that as a pastor and missionary, she could still fulfill what she loved about the idea of becoming an English professor: “I have the opportunity to mentor, to encourage, to identify gifts in people, and lift those up and strengthen them.”

Her interest in global humanitarian work, Eskesen said, relates to her understanding of faith: “How God operates in the world is that we belong to each other. So the suffering of the world, that is our suffering, and if there is a chance to help people understand the interconnectedness of our lives and of creation, I will seek to do that.”

The Rev. Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, ’77, MDiv ’81, vice president for Mission and Identity at Cal Lutheran, remembered Eskesen as an undergraduate. “She was inquisitive and kept working to link her studies to what was going on in the world,” MaxwellDoherty said. “I was not surprised when I learned that she had enrolled in a Lutheran seminary as I saw her as a person with emotional intelligence and spiritual grit.”


As the ELCA desk director for Europe, Eskesen coordinates closely with ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response to connect with ecumenical and Lutheran partners across Europe, especially in Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and other countries, and oversees grants to support their local efforts on the ground.

In Europe, she said, the ELCA prioritizes five interrelated areas of justice: migration, gender, environmental, racial and economic. The ELCA’s work ranges from empowering Roma communities, to serving refugees arriving through Serbia and the Mediterranean, and most recently, to helping the people — mainly women and children — fleeing violence from the war in Ukraine that started when Russia invaded the country in February 2022.

Early on, Eskesen focused on collaborating with ELCA partners to provide immediate shelter and aid to displaced Ukrainians, supplying items such as food, beds, blankets and hygiene products, along with pastoral support, transportation and housing. Now, with ECLA Disaster Response, Eskesen and her team are coordinating with local partners to strategize long-term support for refugees.

Above: Lutheran World Federation staff members who support Ukrainian refugees gather in Bytom, Poland, on Oct. 17, 2022, for a weeklong training in community-based psychosocial support provided through ACT Church of Sweden. Above right: A woman helps process a Ukrainian refugee's application for cash support on May 19, 2022, at a center in Wroclaw, Poland. At right: Ukrainian refugee Olga Buzenovska, 48, Ukraine, looks at a photo of one of her sons on Oct. 19, 2022. Her son, who stayed in Ukraine with his brother to fight the Russian invasion, died in battle.

Above left: Katiia Kharytoniuk, 37, and her daughter Sofija, 5, refugees from Uman, Ukraine, play Monopoly at the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Bytom, Poland, on Oct. 18, 2022. Above: Ukrainian refugees wait to get into an assistance center in Wroclaw, Poland, on May 19, 2022. The center supports thousands of refugees with emergency cash for three months. At left: The Rev. Rachel Eskesen '04, MA, MDiv '14, front row center, director of the Europe desk for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and her team help coordinate support for Ukrainian refugees.

As winter approached, one goal was to winterize housing for refugees, Eskesen said. “These accommodations are often summer camps or retreat centers and need to be updated to keep people warm through the winter.”

The greatest successes in helping the refugees, she said, have all come from “meaningful collaboration.” For example, a colleague from a Lutheran church in Ukraine called to ask if she knew of a place where a displaced congregation member driving through Budapest could stay. Eskesen called the bishop of a Lutheran church in Hungary, who directed her to a retreat center.

“I’ve witnessed a million examples of this kind of particular caring welcome this last year,” Eskesen said.

Eskesen’s husband, the Rev. Zachary Courter, MDiv ’17, also works for the ELCA. “I feel called to ministry on the borders,” he said. “In seminary, I imagined this to be somewhere in the USA among a Latinx community. It wasn’t until I met and married Rachel that I discovered the borders and margins for doing ministry in Europe as well.”


Eskesen advised anyone considering humanitarian vocations to “never stop learning about how the structures of systemic injustice have impacted you and the humanitarian work and context in which you hope to serve.”

She recommends exploring opportunities with the ELCA Young Adults In Global Mission program (for those ages 21 to 29), but also reminds people to not forget “the world nearby” in their own communities.

Part of Cal Lutheran’s mission is to “educate leaders for a global

society.” Preparing students to be global citizens, Maxwell-Doherty said, happens both in and outside the classroom, through learning and activities that “expose the students to people with a diversity of cultures and lived experiences that are different from their own.”

Eskesen said the skill of “interpreting texts,” key to pastors and English literature experts alike, also helps international humanitarian workers. “In biblical interpretation, it’s important to look in front, behind and in the text, so there’s no ‘The Bible says,’ because books don’t talk, people do,” Eskesen said. That contextual understanding, she believes, is also important to those tasked with interpreting complex cultural situations.

“It’s really important to get to know people, what their story is and how they are situated within our global context,” she said. “Because we’re all connected to each other.”

— For more information about the ELCA’s efforts to serve Ukraine refugees, or to make a donation, visit

Karen Lindell has been a newspaper, magazine and website writer and editor for more than 15 years, including work at the Ventura County Star, L.A. Parent magazine, Los Angeles Times, Ojai Valley News, VC Reporter and She lives in Pasadena.

if the book is older than you are it deserves to be read so settle in with a kind attitude and lose yourself in the rooms and minds of people hitherto strangers


Thank you for joining
to reminisce, reconnect and make new memories at Cal Lutheran during this festive and fun-filled weekend.
Event photos are from Loop da Lu 5K, Homecoming Festival, CLUB 50, and Homecoming Choir Concert



us for more

TOLD Foundation

President Rod Gilbert’s many years of service to Cal Lutheran helped him understand how his donation could best serve the university and its students.


A landmark gift

“Cal Lutheran was the perfect school for me,” said 18-year-old Ojai resident Elijah Dvortcsak. “I was getting recruited to play football by a bunch of Southern California schools, but I really loved Cal Lutheran’s football team and sports management program. For me, Cal Lu was just the perfect fit.”

Except for one thing: affordability.

Dvortcsak is one of many middleincome students struggling to afford college — his family made too much to qualify for federal grants, but not nearly enough to pay tuition at a private university.

“I knew I couldn’t attend Cal Lutheran without scholarships, so I spent time talking with the Financial Aid office to find out what scholarships I might be able to get,” Dvortcsak said. “That’s when I heard about the new Gilbert scholarship.”

The Rod Gilbert Achievement Scholarship fund allows the university to assist up to 100 students in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 over the next eight years. It is named in honor of the longtime and loyal university partner Rod Gilbert.

“I’m not interested in name recognition. In fact, I prefer to be out of the limelight since giving is not about me or even my family — it’s about the students and the type of education that Cal Lutheran provides,” Gilbert said. “My family and I have a huge interest in California Lutheran; it’s our No. 1 philanthropic priority, and that means we want to contribute in ways that work in the best interest of the university.”

And Gilbert has done just that for nearly two decades.

The locally recognized leader and highly accomplished executive has served on the Board of Regents for nearly 20 years and as board chair from 2012 to 2015. In addition to leading the board, Gilbert has chaired multiple Board committees, from finance and compensation to just about every “building committee” that has been constituted over the past 20 years. In his full-time position, as president of TOLD Corporation, a Camarillo-based com-

mercial real estate development and asset management company founded in 1959 by his father, Gilbert developed an expertise in construction, real estate and investments that has guided Cal Lutheran into the future.

It’s a future that includes making sure this impressive institution is accessible to students who come from disadvantaged and middle-class backgrounds, according to Gilbert.

“My interest in creating this type of scholarship was driven by an understanding of the price affordability gap — the gap between what the federal government and financial aid formula suggest a student can pay and what that student’s family is actually able to pay,” Gilbert said. “As someone who has long been committed to access, I wanted to help Cal Lutheran close that gap since the university has worked hard to expand student diversity, in part, by addressing economic disparity. As I saw it — ‘here’s a problem that needs solving and TOLD Foundation might have the means to help solve it.’”

The Gilbert Achievement Scholarship not only will assist the financial needs of middle-income students. It will also address the growing number of students from first-generation, low-income, and/or racially underserved backgrounds who have dreams of attending Cal Lutheran. This aligns with the Hispanic-Serving Institution’s successful efforts to enroll and graduate students from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The share of the university’s undergraduate students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants — which are awarded to those with exceptional financial need — increased from 16% to 30% during the past 15 years. In the CLU 2021-2022 academic year alone, 60% of undergraduates received state or federal needbased financial aid.

Continued on Page 20

A $2.5 million donation from the TOLD Foundation creates a new scholarship model at Cal Lutheran.
“My interest in creating this type of scholarship was driven by an understanding of the price affordability gap ...”

This substantial need required a substantial gift, and Gilbert made it by creating the largest non-endowed scholarship pool ever available at Cal Lutheran.

“Rod Gilbert leads the way in California Lutheran University’s endeavor to create a whole new model of scholarship,” said President Lori E. Varlotta. “His foundation is the first to give a sevenfigure scholarship that is expendable, not endowed.”

The difference in fund distribution is key: The principal of an endowed fund is preserved in perpetuity, with a portion of the earned interest available for spending. In contrast, all of an expendable fund, paid over a period of time, can be accessed immediately.

“This means the scholarship recipient gets a much larger and direct portion of the gift to support their education,” Varlotta

said. “And that comes as a great relief for many of these students who are from moderate to middle-class families whose parents make a good living but not enough to afford a private-college education. The Rod Gilbert Achievement Scholarship is one big reason this group of students can say ‘yes’ to Cal Lutheran.”

That includes students like Dvortcsak who did say “yes” to Cal Lutheran after being awarded the Rod Gilbert Achievement Scholarship. “I felt like they were doing everything possible to make it affordable, and I’m so glad I’m here,” the first-year student and Kingsmen football player said. “The academic part of the school is amazing, and the teachers are all super supportive and helpful. They want us to succeed and help us learn about internships and jobs — they’re very invested in our future.”

Invested like Rod Gilbert.

“My dad never got a chance to go to college, but he understood clearly that having a degree opens doors and increases economic opportunities for individuals and our greater community. Also, both my parents really supported a faith-based education,” Gilbert said. “So, if this newest scholarship model attracts terrific students who would not have otherwise been able to come to Cal Lutheran, then it will have helped meet a mission-driven goal. That makes me extremely happy.”

Varlotta said this new scholarship model takes support for students to a whole new level.

“Rod has not only fueled bringing a new scholarship model to life, but he also embodies a unique model of leadership and philanthropy. Rod Gilbert is an exemplar of servant leader, friend, donor and more,” Varlotta said. “He is an authentic Cal Lutheran ambassador who donates his time and talent as a business leader.

“Rod has kept the philanthropic legacy of his parents, Jack and Carol Gilbert, alive and well. He manifests that legacy by adding his own kindhearted, strategic, student-centric and highly personalized touch. Rod Gilbert’s legacy at Cal Lutheran is based on deep and authentic relationships, built during a generation when he has invested personal time and attention to get to know Cal Lutheran and the people who make up this community. He is, without a doubt, one of the reasons for California Lutheran University’s past, present and future success.”

“I felt like they were doing everything possible to make it affordable, and I’m so glad I’m here.”
Receiving a Rod Gilbert Achievement Scholarship helped Kingsmen football player Elijah Dvortcsak attend Cal Lutheran.

treasured MEMORIES

The Cal Lutheran community lost one of its most treasured members when the Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes died on July 12, 2022.

Howie, as he was affectionately known, had a long, close relationship with Cal Lutheran, and he and his wife Mary have been among the university’s most fervent supporters.

He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, his Master of Divinity from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his Doctor of Ministry from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley in 1982. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Cal Lutheran in 1987.

Howie was the first bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In this role and others, he was a major advocate for Cal Lutheran with the congregations, pastors and college-bound students of the Southwestern states. His ministerial career took him and Mary to parishes throughout the Western United States, and the couple served in ELCA leadership positions throughout the world.

After he retired, Howie was invited to serve as Cal Lutheran’s assistant to the president for University Ministries and director of Church Relations. He was responsible for sustaining and extending the university’s myriad relationships with the ELCA,

especially the 800 congregations of Region II.

Howie served on the Board of Regents and twice was asked to be interim president of Cal Lutheran — in 2006 and 2007 — working tirelessly to support the university during times of challenging transitions. He was awarded Cal Lutheran’s Christus Award in 2009 — an honor that highlighted his work at strengthening the ties between the church and the university.

The Wennes name is woven into several university programs and places. The David Wennes Memorial Scholarship, an endowed scholarship awarded to upper-division English majors who have shown a gift for creative writing or other artistic expression, honors the couple’s son, who died in 1999. Their name also graces the Wennes Interfaith Meditation Chapel.

Although Howie loved spending time in chapels, churches and worship spaces, he also loved being outdoors. He was an avid golfer who played in golf tournaments that supported Cal Lutheran and Lutheran Outdoor Ministry.

Mary Wennes fondly remembers Howie’s quick wit and sense of humor. “When President Luther Luedtke went on sabbatical, he asked Howie if he could be the acting president,” Mary said. “Howie said, ‘I think I can act like one for three or four months.’”

That sense of humor is only one of the many memories the Cal Lutheran community would like to share with the Wennes family.

The Cal Lutheran community shares thoughts about the Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes.
The Rev. Dr. Howard Wennes leads a service in Cal Lutheran's Samuelson Chapel. The copper enamel flame he wore was made by the art guild of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Phoenix.

“Iremember meeting Pastor Wennes for the first time when I was 16 years old. He brought a 45-person busload of high school students from Phoenix, Arizona, to a Lutheran Youth Gathering in Anaheim, California. After attending the gathering, he brought those students to California Lutheran College to visit and learn about this young Lutheran college in the West. When I came to CLC as a first-year student two years later, I met many of those same students, who were attending CLU as I did. From those days until the end of his life, whether as a young youth pastor or an interim university president, Howie was an ambassador and an advocate for Cal Lutheran calling us to ‘make room for the Spirit.’”

— The Rev. Melissa Maxwell-Doherty ’77, MDiv ’81, vice president of Mission and Identity

“Howie Wennes had a profound impact on my life as an adviser, mentor and friend. He embodied spiritual leadership through acts of generosity and compassion. Among his many values was to do one better than the Golden Rule and live by the Platinum Rule, whereby one treats people the way they want to be treated. In subtle and profound ways, he was a leader for equity and justice. I endeavor to think ‘what would Howie do?’ when presented a challenging decision — his spirit lives in my heart.”

fair trade coffee when we shared office space, he was just plain likable. Howie had an approachable, respectful and humorous personality. He was a delightful man who is missed.”

“Howie was a jovial guy, always ready with a quip. He enjoyed laughter, golf, singing and worship. We regularly sat together for CLU University Chapel services. He would clap away the rhythm of the hymns on the surface of the pews. I cherish the memories!”

“Icouldn’t help but remember how Howie was the first president (during my professional tenure at CLU) to attend the TRIO Upward Bound Program’s graduation. Since then, and interrupted only by the pandemic, the university president and/ or a vice president have always been present during the TRIO PreUniversity Graduations. This was a trend and expectation set by Howie, and we will always love him for that.”


“Iam honored to have worked at Cal Lutheran when Howie Wennes was here. With each encounter I had with him, he managed to leave me feeling better than before we spoke. He would give his complete attention to our conversation, never rushing to end the exchange. Whether talking to him about an upcoming project when he was interim president and I was just starting at Cal Lutheran, laughing with him at a Christmas party or Corporate Leaders Breakfast, or chatting with him about

“Howie was one of the people in my life that I would call when things got hard and rough and I couldn’t see a way out. He (and Mary) always gifted me with time over many years. I felt listened to; he always shared wisdom and his experiences with me, and I felt relief after those conversations. I used Howie as a discernment partner in job shifts and changes in my life. Howie always had some wisdom to share with me as well as helping me feel valued. He was affirming of who I am and my voice in this world and the church.”

Above, from left: Howie, as he was known, had a quick wit and keen sense of humor. Mary and Howie Wennes pose for a photo with their daughter Sally Wennes and grandchildren Christie and Colin Calle when Sally earned her master's degree from Cal Lutheran in 2001.

“Howie Wennes possessed enormous gifts and provided beautiful examples that embody the university’s mission — and its heart. I personally miss his incredibly warm disposition that made a complete stranger like me who didn’t know anyone at the university feel welcome at Cal Lutheran. I met Howie when he was serving on the search committee for VP of Advancement. His kindness, good humor and authentic care for this community made it easy to understand why he was asked to serve the university as interim president not once, but twice. This speaks volumes about his many contributions, and I appreciate the opportunity to honor Howie’s memory and his legacy.”

“What a remarkable, dedicated and humble leader! I first met Howie when he served as interim pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, guiding the congregation through many transitions and helping us increase our commitments to the less fortunate in our own community and around the world. Then I observed his calming presence and commitments when he served as interim president at CLU. He taught us all what it was to truly be a ‘servant leader.’ But mostly, I remember him as my friend, and partner in life to Mary. I will miss sharing coffee, meals and those wonderfully rich and meaningful conversations.”

— Carol Bartell, retired dean and professor emeritus

“Imet Howie the first time he became interim president. He attended an admission staff meeting to listen and to give us a pep talk. The period of time that he served as interim (both times) was filled with significant transition at the university, with vacancies not only in the presidency, but also transitions with … other key positions. Through it all Howie instilled trust, confidence and hope that we would make it through together as a community. He listened intently, cared effortlessly and seemed to be powered by a deep faith in the goodness of people as well as his own rooted spirituality. Any unease I may have initially had at a retired bishop serving as president was swept aside by his openness and curiosity. In later years I interacted with Howie and Mary through weekly chapel services at CLU. We often laughed that we wore the exact same CLU-branded checkered purple and gray shirt several different times. One time in particular stands out from about six years ago. I was engaged in a public and painful struggle with my former faith community as I spoke out about the injustice, homophobia and transphobia prevalent in the church. When Howie heard about this, he pulled me aside and encouraged me to keep fighting for what I believed to be right and just. He is missed, but I believe that his love for this community and the ways that he gave his support in public and in private will help him to live on with all of us.”

RUPERT THORPE Above: Howie, center, poses for a photo with President Lori Varlotta during her inauguration festivities. Below, from left: Howie opens the Millenium Celebration at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. Howie enjoyed walking the golf course carrying his clubs.

“Ifirst met Howie at his acceptance address to the university community following his three-month appointment as acting president. Howie revealed his three-month plan dealing with problems as follows: Month 1: ‘I don’t know anything about that.’ Month 2: ‘I’m working on that.’ Month 3: ‘I’ll need to leave this to the returning president.’

“Although I found his comments to be very humorous, I thought he was also being very skillful in identifying … that his role was going to be a placeholder, and the community would need to properly look to the return of the president when seeking changes. … I asked for his sage advice on both professional and personal matters. In response … he … would tell me about his time as a bishop and use of a ‘No Sniveling’ bumper sticker he would keep on his desk. I proudly display that very bumper sticker … in my office now.”

“Howie was a remarkable man and leader. He was just the right person to shepherd the university and the Cabinet through difficult and sensitive times of presidential transition. My nickname for him is ‘Saint Howie,’ which I’m sure he would dismiss as exaggerated sentiment but captures my thoughts and experiences of Howie perfectly. ... Howie’s guiding principle of institutional leadership that he had and asked each of us on the Cabinet to share and embody in our responsibilities was to always ‘make room for the spirit.’ God was always included at the table and asked to bless and guide our efforts. He gave us a ‘descending dove’ lapel pin to symbolize this. I still have and wear this pin and think of Howie whenever I do. Another vivid memory of Howie was sitting with him at the funeral of a CLU staff member when a former colleague who had been in extreme difficulty walked into the sanctuary alone. Howie instantly got up from our pew to go be with that person, saying, ‘He needs someone to sit with him.’ I knew then and now that I was learning from a spiritual giant what it means to love your neighbor as

yourself. I am honored to have known and worked with Howie Wennes. It was a privilege.”

“Howie would go out of his way to come to facilities to talk to us and give us the Holy Father in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He’d bless us, and that meant a lot to us because in our Catholic culture, our parents would always bless us before we left the house. Many of the workers then were Latino and only spoke Spanish, and when we went to university events like the annual picnic, he would always come over to make sure everything was OK and that we felt like we belonged. We would walk up to the cross and he would walk with us. He would offer a prayer, then we’d each say a prayer. He was always there to answer my religious questions, and he always had the right answer. He’d say, ‘If something makes people feel closer to God, let it be.’ When I questioned different religions in the world, he made me understand that we’re not here to judge, and love is the only thing that matters. He was a spiritual father to those of us in facilities, groundskeeping and housekeeping. He was amazing. He was a light that still shines in our hearts.”

“Howie was a bright light and beam of sunshine in a world that can be dark. He exuded kindness and joy and, in every interaction he had, he spread God’s love. He didn’t judge — he loved. He had a good word for everyone, and every day worked to make the world a better place. When he volunteered to answer phones during the KCLU membership drive, he would always encourage us. We all adored him, and we will forever miss his smile and laugh. Years ago, when my beloved mom died, Howie reached out to check on me and offer words of comfort. He was a mensch. To know Howie was to love him. As the Lord said in Matthew 25:23, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”


— Mary Olson, MPA ’97, KCLU general At left: Howie and Mary Wennes, right, pose with their children Tim and Sally Wennes, on a memorial bench honoring their son David Wennes. Above: Howie, Sally and Mary Wennes participate in a Loop da Lu event.


The Rev. Scott Adams believes that’s what peace, love and community are all about.

Being watched and being seen are two very different things. Watching bores down on the outside. Seeing senses the inside.

The Rev. Scott Hamilton Adams, Cal Lutheran’s new university pastor, is a see-er, not a watcher. And wants us to do the same.

On Sept. 22, when Cal Lutheran celebrated the International Day of Peace, Adams led the weekly Thursday University Chapel service. During the customary “passing of the peace” when people hug/greet/welcome one another, he said, “I ask you to tell someone, ‘I see you. I see you.’”

The people in the pews, some wearing masks, bumped elbows, shook hands and embraced as usual. They also spoke, somewhat hesitantly at first, that three-word phrase.

Adams continued: “So many of us, in our world and in our lives, are not seen. And we can at least come into this space of gathering and community … and let others know that we intentionally and authentically see one another … . That’s what peace and love and community really are all about.”

It’s also what Adams is about, and a large part of the reason he was selected to be the new university pastor.

“We felt that Reverend Scott would reinforce the university’s

"Rev. Scott," as he is known, is committed to diversity, openness and an interfaith, multicultural approach to ministry.

goals of strengthening our community and making all members not only ‘feel’ but ‘be’ welcomed,” said the Rev. Melissa MaxwellDoherty, vice president of Mission and Identity at Cal Lutheran, former university pastor, and a member of the search committee that chose Adams. “He seemed to grasp where the Cal Lutheran community was at this moment, signaling that he would engage all of us in a pastoral, personable way.”

As Cal Lutheran’s spiritual leader, the university pastor provides support, care and counseling to students, faculty, staff and administrators. Or as Adams says, he offers “the ministry of presence: being present, available and accessible.”


“Rev. Scott,” as he is known, officially was installed on Oct. 28 by Bishop Brenda Bos, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Southwest bishop. Adams is the university’s first Black pastor and the first non-Lutheran to hold the post. He takes over from the Rev. Scott MaxwellDoherty, who retired as campus pastor after more than two decades of service at Cal Lutheran. Adams was selected by a search advisory committee of faculty, staff and students, representing numerous departments. Before finalizing the job description, the committee met with Cal Lutheran community members and administered surveys to learn what people wanted and needed from a new pastor.

Melissa Maxwell-Doherty said the breadth and depth of Adams’ talents and experiences made him stand out from the four finalists who were brought to campus for on-site interviews. He has worked in both university and church settings; “he is a gifted theologian who engages in interfaith and ecumenical ministry,” she said. “He is also a powerful speaker and preacher.”

Adams comes to Cal Lutheran from Baltimore, where he served as assistant director of interfaith and ecumenical ministries at Loyola University Maryland and senior pastor of Heritage United Church of Christ.

He holds a Master of Theology degree from Duke University’s School of Divinity, a Master of Arts degree in theology from St.

Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, and a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from James Madison University in Virginia. He is also a certified executive coach, and he trained as a medical chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Adams said his family always has been “steeped in faith.” His grandparents founded a church in Baltimore decades ago. He was not, however, a regular churchgoer as a child, and he rarely attended worship as an undergraduate college student.

In graduate school, Adams had what he calls a “theophany” in a bookstore.

Initially, he was interested in earning a master’s degree in computer programming. “But I was really struggling with the content,” he said. While at a bookstore searching for a beginner’s book about computer languages, he felt drawn to the store’s religion and history aisle.

“Something in my spirit just said, ‘This is where you need to be,’” he said. “So, I picked up a huge hardback study Bible and took it home. I had a voracious appetite, hunger and thirst for what I was ingesting.”

He gave up computer programming and decided to go to seminary instead.

“At that point, I got on a fast track. Once I finished seminary, I started a church with my wife. Our early work was done from our home living room, and it just continued to grow,” he said. Eventually, he saw campus ministry as the ideal fit for the two sides of himself: the academic and the pastoral.

When Adams initially flew out to California to interview for the Cal Lutheran position, he knew it felt right, except for one thing: He couldn’t imagine moving so far away from his family.

But his wife, Tanya, and sons, Scotty and Ray, told him they wanted him to take the job because they knew it would fulfill him. “That, to me, is the epitome of love — the willingness of my family to sacrifice having me physically at home,” he said. His family will stay on the East Coast at least until Scotty finishes high school, and in the meantime, they FaceTime each other several times each day.

The Rev. Scott Adams celebrates his installation with his mother Jean Tucker Mann and son Scott Hamilton Adams II. His family has been very supportive of his move to Cal Lutheran.
"When you learn the stories, experiences and perspectives of others, it really opens you up and broadens your worldview to become more in tune with the understanding that we are a universal human family.”


Adams is committed to diversity, openness and an interfaith, multicultural approach to ministry.

“I want to create spaces of belonging and safety for people to be who they are, whatever their faith tradition, as well as for nonbelievers and those with individual and group identities who are marginalized in society,” Adams said.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one of his heroes, inspires his overall vision for Cal Lutheran: “And that is the hope — to see beloved community manifest in the world where everybody is accepted for who they are, and to see that we all in this community see ourselves as interdependent and interconnected. Each of us needs one another to survive.”

Many of his previous accomplishments include ecumenical and interfaith efforts, which he will carry on at Cal Lutheran as well.

“When you learn the stories, experiences and perspectives of others, it really opens you up and broadens your worldview to become more in tune with the understanding that we are a universal human family,” he said.

During the Peace Day chapel service at Cal Lutheran, for example, readings came from the Koran and Old Testament, and Adams spoke during his remarks about “shalom,” the Hebrew word for peace.

In the Hebrew context, he said, shalom literally means “wholeness … completeness … unity. And peace for humanity is only possible in shalom through authentic relationship … It can’t be

produced simply by inhabiting the same space at the same time. We’re all here together, but if we aren’t connected, we won’t have the fullness of what peace really is.”


Adams admitted that he doesn’t spend a lot of time doing extracurricular activities because he’s “primarily working all the time.” But for leisure, he loves to read, especially nonfiction books, the denser the better. And during the pandemic, he picked up a new hobby: cooking, which he connects to his vocation.

“A chef doesn’t necessarily prepare food with all of the meticulousness and love that she or he uses to prepare the food they eat themselves,” he said. “They prepare it for others, as a way of showing their love for others through what they’re creating. I find that’s true especially when it comes to preaching. I am investing my time and preparation so I can deliver something to others that will nourish, strengthen, and say ‘I love’ from my time of preparation into proclamation.”

When you see him on campus in his colorful bowtie and shirt, be sure to say hello. He will see you in return, in ways deeper than you know

Karen Lindell has been a newspaper, magazine and website writer and editor for more than 15 years, including work at the Ventura County Star, L.A. Parent magazine, Los Angeles Times, Ojai Valley News, VC Reporter and She lives in Pasadena.

The Rev. Scott Adams was installed by Bishop Brenda Bos, of the Southwest Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, at the Founders Day Installation Service on Oct. 28, 2022.

Strategic plan IN ACTION

Initial stages focus on understanding how Cal Lutheran can better serve students and increase its outreach in the future.


Whether we’re using Waze on our phone, poring over the almost extinct but ever-impossible-to-fold paper map, or relying on our innate sense of direction, we all need a guide to get somewhere we’ve never been. At a university, company or other large organization, that guide to the future is often a strategic plan.

Cal Lutheran’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, developed with input from all members of the university community, outlines what President Lori Varlotta has called “the top priorities around which the university will concentrate a considerable amount of time, attention and resources through 2027.”

During a consultant-led brainstorming session in November 2021, more than 200 participants helped to craft Strategic Plan objectives and initiatives based on three themes: Student Experience, Fulfilling Work Environment and Distinctive Impact.

With students at the center of the plan, it is no surprise that several of the Student Experience initiatives are coming to life quickly and robustly.

Below are four in-play or soon-to-be-undertaken objectives under the Student Experience theme.

OBJECTIVE: A Community Strengthened by Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

“In terms of this objective, the student experience is intertwined with faculty and staff development around DEIJ (diversity, equity, inclusion and justice); we’re serving the students by creating an inclusive learning environment,” said Cristallea K. Buchanan, Cal Lutheran’s inaugural vice president for Talent, Culture and Diversity. Buchanan, along with Lorri Santamaría, director of faculty development and inclusive excellence, and Leigh Fine, learning and development manager, are developing faculty and staff training sessions that allow participants to examine unconscious biases, teaching or service methods, syllabus content, and ways of respectfully interacting with students from BIPOC communities.

A number of the educational programs co-sponsored by the Office of Culture, Talent, and Diversity, various affinity groups and university departments are associated with affinity weeks and months. For example, Cal Lutheran offered several educational programs as part of Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month activities, including a talk on nonfederally recognized tribes in California. Other programs celebrating the cultures of our students were offered during International Education Week. The campus also hosted a memorial quilt viewing as part of its recognition of World AIDS Day.

Fine emphasized that DEIJ awareness isn’t a top-down process. “No one owns DEIJ work,” he said. “That runs against the spirit of DEIJ. Inclusion is about recognizing the limits of our own knowledge and that we all have more to learn from others.”

OBJECTIVE: A SoCal and Student-Centric Campus Plan

For the first time, Cal Lutheran’s Strategic Plan and Campus Plan were developed at the same time so the former can be used to shape the latter. The Campus Plan identifies spaces and places on campus that need to be built, improved or enhanced. As is the case with the Strategic Plan, “the student experience has been front and center in the Campus Plan,” said Ryan Van Ommeren, associate vice president of planning and services.

Currently, the President’s Cabinet and a Campus Plan Lead-

AT LEFT: Lorri Santamaría, director of Faculty Development and Inclusive Excellence, third from left, poses with students at a Black History Month kickoff event in 2022. ABOVE: Closing Memorial Drive to traffic and transforming it into a "downtown-type" area is one of the proposals to help create a more student-centric campus. MICHAEL DETERRA TRACIE KARASIK

ership Team are prioritizing the projects that they believe will have the most positive impact on students for the resources expended. They are also creating short- and mid-term categories for these priorities.

Short-term projects that have been proposed for authorization (but not completion) in the next three years include: closing Memorial Drive to through traffic and morphing it into a “downtown-type” area with a new or expanded eatery, gathering areas, study spaces and more; adding signs to help people get around campus more easily; reconfiguring the Pearson Library’s interior so it is more of a learning space than a place to store books; and planning and designing track-and-field facilities and an enhanced softball stadium.

One of the most talked-about mid-term projects — those that would take from three to 20 years to complete — is the proposed construction of a student activity center. The recommended, but not approved site, is where the current Nygreen Hall is located.

OBJECTIVE: A Bolstered Technology Infrastructure

Today’s students expect course materials to be delivered in interactive, varied and engaging ways. And one of the many ways to meet this expectation is to add more online components to individual courses and to whole programs. Hence, it makes sense that boosting the technological infrastructure has emerged as a key focus of the 2022-27 Strategic Plan. “Three years ago, the instantaneous pivot that Cal Lutheran faculty made to online instruction was impressive,” said Taiwo Ande, PhD, associate provost for Academic Effectiveness. Moving forward, we have the luxury to be more deliberate about how we transform face-to-face instruction to online or hybrid instruction — a mix of online and in-person classes.”

Since teaching online entails much more than simply recording a lecture or posting a PowerPoint, Cal Lutheran em-

ploys a small team of instructional designers who work with faculty to make their course content and pedagogical strategies “online-friendly.”

In addition to relying heavily on these internal colleagues, the university is exploring whether it should partner with a third-party firm to help faculty move a few programs to an online format.

Most of the online courses at Cal Lutheran are found in select graduate programs or the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program. This year, though, several more traditional undergraduate courses, both existing and new, have been offered online. “Still, the vast majority of Cal Lutheran’s undergraduate courses will continue — long into the future — to be delivered via face-to-face instruction,” said Leanne Neilson, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “But in the 21st century, universities must have myriad delivery modes to address differences in learning styles and needs.”

An online curriculum is one way Cal Lutheran plans to expand and improve upon the student experience. “We are putting a lot of quality-assurance processes in place,” Ande said. “These courses will be as good as face-to-face instruction.”

OBJECTIVE: Development of Purpose and Career Readiness

As a Lutheran institution, Cal Lutheran takes seriously its commitment not only to prepare students for their careers, but also to help them “figure out their vocation and purpose in life,” said Angela Naginey, executive director of Student Success. To facilitate this discernment, Cal Lutheran is in the process of ensuring that faculty advisers and Career Service staff are in sync as they set out to counsel their student advisees. To integrate the services that are offered via faculty advisers on one part of the

One plan currently underway is the renovation of the Pearson Library's interior, shown here in 2019, to transform it into a more interactive and collaborative space.

campus and career counselors on the other, Cal Lutheran submitted an HSI-related grant proposal to the Federal Department of Education. Impressively, the grant, titled Vocational Identity and Talent in Academic Learning (VITAL), was approved. Over the next five years, the university is set to receive $2,807,976 to fund a multidimensional and interdepartmental program that will help prepare students for the workforce and find their vocations.

VITAL has a tripartite aim: to increase retention and completion rates among Hispanic and low-income students; to help prepare students for their careers; and to help students think about their vocation and calling. Among other activities, the program will offer mentor training for faculty and supervisors of student workers; revitalize a peer mentorship program; create internship opportunities; and establish an endowment to fund university-sponsored employment



A Community Strengthened by Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

1. A learning environment that includes a focus on DEIJ

2. DEIJ training and programming

A Bolstered Technology Infrastructure

3. Technology improvements

4. Online curriculum content

Development of Purpose and Career Readiness

5. Experiential learning requirement

6. Partnerships between Career Services, academic advisers and faculty

A SoCal and Student-Centric Campus Plan

7. Mission- and identity-informed spaces and places

8. Outdoor classroom and student programming spaces


A Culture Enriched by Trust and Accountability

1. A people strategy that addresses workload, managing expectations and salary concerns

2. A leadership development program

Investment in People

3. A culture of recognition, appreciation and high performance

4. Professional development

Data-Informed Decision Making

5. An improved technology infrastructure that reduces inefficient manual input

6. Technology training and support

Systems That Promote Success and Collaboration

7. Intentional collaboration and community building

8. Policy development and timely communications


Strategic Partnerships

1. Academic and cocurricular programs and partnerships

2. Corporate, community and government partnerships

A Focus on Fundraising

3. A data-driven fundraising campaign that aligns donor interests with university priorities

4. A spirit of philanthropy

Purposeful Communications

5. Develop and implement an internal communication framework

6. Create a brand ambassador program to extend the reach and influence of Cal Lutheran’s brand

Brand and Mission Alignment

7. Refresh the university’s institutional positioning and brand platform

8. Academic and co-curricular differentiators

For more information, visit



Honorary Alumni

The Honorary Alumni Award is given to those who have rendered an outstanding level of service to Cal Lutheran and whose personal achievements have garnered recognition from outside individuals or organizations.

Paul Hanson, PhD

Throughout his 40-year tenure as a professor of South Asian and Middle Eastern history at Cal Lutheran, Paul Hanson, PhD, has nurtured a multi-disciplinary, global perspective among students and colleagues alike. As a young Fulbright scholar in India, Paul became enthralled with the tremendous diversity of languages, religions and architecture on the subcontinent. His early travels throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe instilled in him a deep-seated passion for bringing a global lens to the human experience. When he arrived at Cal Lutheran in 1978, he evolved one of the university’s core courses — Western Civilization — to World Civilizations. He later launched the Global Studies program, connecting faculty from different disciplines to collaborate and team-teach courses centered on global content. Paul brought the world to Cal Lutheran — and brought many of his students to far-reaching corners of the planet — leaving an indelible impact on the university’s collective understanding of humanity.

Jim Overton

Called to serve on the Cal Lutheran Board of Regents in 2010, Jim Overton has spent 12 years dedicated to the mission and values of the university. He has been instrumental in appointing presidents, expanding the north campus, opening the Swenson Science Center and enhancing diversity through the university’s designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Jim’s impact on Cal Lutheran is nearly impossible to quantify: his interests are diverse, his generosity is boundless and his passion for serving students is limitless. From Overton Hall and Overton Court to the stained-glass windows in Samuelson Chapel and the Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center, Jim has enhanced our campus beyond measure. And the many scholarships created by Jim and his family — the Overton Prize in Economics, the Summer Research Scholarship and, most recently, a music scholarship for string instruments — have undoubtedly had a transformative effect on our community.

Outstanding Alumni

The Outstanding Alumni Award is given to a Cal Lutheran graduate with a distinguished record of career achievements or humanitarian endeavors dedicated to social reform.

Marisol Rodriguez ’94, MPA ’00, PhD

A passion for service and a drive to continuously improve have propelled Marisol Rodriguez ’94, MPA ’00, PhD to an esteemed career that spans nearly three decades with the Ventura County Fire Department. Marisol credits her experience as a Regals volleyball player with instilling in her a strong work ethic and a commitment to teamwork and leadership — values that inform her dynamic work as a fire captain today. First exposed to fire services through a Cal Lutheran undergraduate internship, Marisol runs Ventura County’s fire academy programs, raises awareness about reducing fire hazards and serves as an instructor for the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Leadership Academy. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cal Lutheran and a PhD from Capella University. An exemplary leader dedicated to service, Marisol maintains close ties to Cal Lutheran; she worked for a time at Cal Lutheran’s Fire Station 34, is a frequent guest speaker at university events and is a past panelist for the Mathews Leadership Forum.

Each year, the Cal Lutheran Alumni Board of Directors recognizes achievements that have brought honor and distinction to the university.

Lorrie Brown ’07, MPPA ’09

As the first Black person to be elected to the Ventura City Council since the city’s inception 150 years ago, Lorrie Brown ’07, MPPA ’09, is a trailblazer. She sheds light on the challenges faced by marginalized communities and builds consensus to fight injustice and solve real problems. A single mother of three grown young men, Lorrie put herself through college at Cal Lutheran and was encouraged by a professor to apply for the university’s Master of Public Policy and Administration program. Thus began a pathway toward her esteemed career in public service.

As a councilmember, she has proposed and implemented key policies in support of people of color and other underrepresented communities, including declaring racism a public health issue, denouncing police brutality and implementing the Progress Initiative to address affordable housing and economic development in the city of Ventura. Lorrie works tirelessly to question the status quo in favor of more inclusive policies that benefit everyone.

Outstanding Young Alumni

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is given to a graduate of the last decade for distinguished career achievements or humanitarian endeavors dedicated to social reform.

Asante Sefa-Boakye ’15

Since graduating from Cal Lutheran, Asante Sefa-Boakye ’15 has followed his passions around the globe, whether mentoring young people, creating and performing hip-hop music, or starting Ghana’s first youth water polo team. A former team captain at Cal Lutheran, Asante trained in the sport throughout Europe and played professionally in Brazil. Today, he’s championing the growth of water polo in Ghana and building enthusiasm for aquatic health and wellness across Africa and among diaspora worldwide. For Asante, time management is essential to success, and he credits Cal Lutheran with providing him the structure and discipline to anchor his schedule around his goals. Today, he carves out time to create music that acknowledges life’s struggles but also uplifts his audience — and gets people dancing. His message of positivity extends to his mentoring work; Asante encourages others to embrace failure as a life lesson that ultimately brings growth. His advice:

Keep going and never give up on your dreams.

Justin Meek ’18

A profound sense of loss reverberated throughout the Cal Lutheran community and beyond when Justin Meek ’18 was tragically lost in the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in 2018. The kind of person everyone loved to be around, Justin was known as a warm-hearted and compassionate young man who had an innate drive to protect those he loved. He studied criminal justice and aimed to join the Coast Guard to make a career of protecting others; he died a hero doing just that. As an undergraduate, Justin was an integral part of the fabric of our campus community. He founded Cal Lutheran’s line-dancing club, played water polo for the Kingsmen, and sang in the choir and Kingsmen quartet. Justin’s mother, Laura Lynn Meek ’18, and sister, Victoria Rose Meek ’20, are also Cal Lutheran alumni. To honor the memory of this extraordinary young man, the university installed a bench in Kingsmen Park — Justin’s favorite spot on campus — creating a place of quiet reflection for generations to come.

Scan here to nominate an outstanding alumni


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The Rev. Gary A. Veit ’76, NALC, has retired after 34 years of ministry, serving churches in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas. Interestingly, he was installed on July 10 and concluded on July 10. He has retired to Oklahoma to spend time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

Caroline (Fell ’64) Cottom, PhD, recently published her book of poetry, Asylum, which explores rural West Tennessee in the 1920s and 1930s through the lens of a sharecropper’s daughter and the impact of her later decisions on her own daughters’ lives.


David W. Randle ’71, PhD, is a co-founder and managing director of the Blue Community Consortium, and president and executive director of the WHALE Center. Dave also serves on the board of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism. As the first ordained environmental minister in the world, Dave has successfully coordinated a national campaign to preserve water, wildlife and wilderness areas on behalf of the Pitkin County Commissioners.

Jay Ford ’78 retired Aug. 1, 2022, from parish ministry (ELCA) after 40 years. Jay is blessed to have his beautiful wife Julie (Capener) Ford as his partner in their journey together. After 40 years of parish ministry, a new chapter begins! Bwana asifewe!

Praise the Lord!

Bruce Christopher Mark Thomas ’78 and Bruce Christopher ’77 pause for a follow-the-flag moment at their annual summer fishing trip in Santa Cruz, California.


Ingrid Fuelleman-Ramos ’83 is retiring after 37 years of teaching elementary and middle school in the Palm Springs and Long Beach Unified School districts. She was named Teacher of the Year twice for Corsini Elementary School. She is happy to be enjoying her endless summer vacation and being a member of the Teachers With No Class club.

The Rev. Dr. Paul G. Wenz ’89 was installed as pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Santa Barbara, California, on May 15, 2022. When not working hard for

the congregation, he will be enjoying the city’s famous beaches, going on the food and wine trails, and watching the humpback whales near the Channel Islands.


Ryan Edwards ’99 was the 2022 San Bernardino County Teacher of the Year in the Chaffey Joint Union High School District. A teacher at Etiwanda High School, he has always wanted to inspire students the way Andrea Huvard, PhD, a professor of science at Cal Lutheran, inspired him.


Robert Fisher ’02 is the new principal at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, California. There to welcome him were Cal Lutheran alumni Shawn Zeringue ’98, Todd Arrowsmith ’91, Holly Martin Zeilenga ’02 and Miguel Tenorio ’12

Niki Shishido ’03 is the executive director of the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council (PAAC). She has worked for PAAC since 2013 and previously served as the community relations coordinator, International Visitor Leadership Program coordinator, and grant writer.

Cory Hughes ’04, with his son Cooper, enjoys views of the Na Pali coastline from the Kalalau Lookout Waimea Canyon State Park on the Hawaiian island of Kauai during a family vacation in July 2022.

Marylinda Arroyo ’05 is the first woman officer in the Santa Barbara Police Department’s history to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant. She is also the first woman to make captain, commander and interim police chief, and the first person with dyslexia to run the department. She is currently in charge of field operations, overseeing patrol officers, street crime and co-responsive units.

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Andrew Brown ’09 and Holly Roepke ’99 attended a Los Angeles Rams charity event in L.A. They made connections with attendees at the event and got to meet some of the players on the team. Pictured, from left, are Andrew, Rams player Max Pircher and Holly.


Cortney (Jordan ’13) Truitt has been nominated for the Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

Haley (Hodgson ’17) Alexander is in the process of becoming the department supervisor at a dermatology pathology lab in Washington state after earning certification as a histotechnologist.

From left to right, Jessica (Thompson ’11) Dobbs, Jessica (Seaton ’10) Delis and Rebecca (Cardone ’13) Cardone da Costa attended the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2019 when they celebrated Jessica Delis’s 30th birthday. They got up so early and were very cold, but it was worth the gorgeous sight of hundreds of bright-colored hot air balloons rising into the air in the morning light during the “Mass Ascension.”

Prince Asante Sefa-Boakye ’15 launched his nonprofit, Black Star Polo, by teaching water polo and swim lessons to over 100 refugee children from Somalia living in San Diego.

Ashley (Brown ’16) Callinan graduated with a biology degree and is working in the biotech field. She started out at a large corporate biotech and now works for a startup that is creating transformative medicines to cure cancer.

Paulina Nunez ’17, MPPA ’18, was named deputy district attorney for Ventura County.

Nathan Eprem ’18 graduated from Southwestern Law School with a Juris Doctor degree, then took the Florida Bar Exam in July 2022.

Bailey Borup ’19 began working as the clinical director/ primary therapist at a substance abuse and mental health treatment center.

Monica (Louis ’16) McNamara received a PhD in evolution, ecology and organismal biology from the University of California, Riverside, on June 10, 2022.

Jessica Salottolo ’17 and Austin Cole ’19 got engaged on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, California, on Oct. 30, 2021. Their big day is planned sometime in June 2023.

Daniel Buonauro ’19, a master’s student at the University of Chicago, says the psychology professors and department at Cal Lutheran helped build foundational knowledge in many different areas of the field. The program provided the foundation for him to be a successful psychologist, while fostering what inspired him to study psychology in the first place.


Tia Kerkhof ’19 attended the USC Gould School of Law and graduated in the top 10% of the class. Tia received many honors and accolades from USC, worked for large law firms in New York and Minneapolis, and interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office doing federal criminal prosecution. Tia is currently a judicial clerk for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

and development, helping her student-athletes reach their potential on and off the court.


Gabrielle (D’Amore MBA ’01) Lukianchuck joined ABBYY as chief marketing officer. ABBYY reimagines the way people work and how companies accelerate business by delivering the intelligence that fuels automation platforms. Throughout Gabrielle’s 25-year career, she has been a pioneer in leading transformative approaches to marketing centered on the customer. Gabrielle has an intentional storytelling approach on a global scale that has enabled go-to-market strategies with measured business impact at technology organizations.

program allowed her to easily do asset liability management work with the knowledge from the class and advice from colleagues.

Andrea Godinez, MBA ’22, finished the EMBA program in February

and participated in the graduation ceremony in May 2022. Andrea is currently a department administrator of the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Kaiser Permanente. The EMBA program provided an intensive amount of personal and professional development for Andrea, offering an awareness of the internal and external environments in healthcare.


Sierra Scali ’20, who majored in communications with an emphasis in film and television and minored in sports management at Cal Lutheran, is a digital video distribution/syndication coordinator at the National Football League, where she works with the league’s digital distribution and audience development team.


Annie Tarakchian, MFT ’22, has been selected by the Caltech women’s basketball program to be the new head coach. Annie earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Cal Lutheran, where she also served as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball program. Annie’s coaching philosophy emphasizes accountability and empathy as main components of growth

Meghan (Allen ’11, MBA ’16) Tarry was honored at the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce 40 Under Forty event as an awardee. Meghan is the owner and systems strategist for In 2 On Consulting.

Yuhui (Cindy) Qian, MS ’18, finished the MSQE (Master of Science in Quantitative Economics) program and is currently an assistant actuary at AIG. Yuhui said the MSQE

Tye Kelly ’20, MBA ’22, completed a successful military career and received a bachelor’s degree in business management and MBA in finance within 8.5 years. Tye made the Cal Lutheran dean’s list and was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Service Medal.

Antonio Castro, MS ’03, EdD ’08, was appointed Ventura Unified School District Superintendent. He is also the 2011 Silver Anniversary Alumni Award recipient, 2007 STRIVE Scholar, and served as an adjunct faculty member with the Cal Lutheran Graduate School of Education from 2004-18.

Howard Davis, EdD ’18, was named assistant superintendent/vice president of academic affairs at Antelope Valley College in February 2022. He spent the previous 25 years at Moorpark College, most recently for six years as dean of student learning. He led the largest division at the college, overseeing business, social and behavioral science, child development and world languages, and several campuswide initiatives focused on increasing student equity.

Ali Sadreameli ’20, MBA ’22, took a trip to Vienna’s Sisi Museum as a final class project for an Executive MBA.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 38 CLU MAGAZINE


1 Peter Matthew Gebhardt on Feb. 7, 2022, to Courtney and Paul James Gebhardt ’11, pictured with big brothers Paul Jacob, 5, and Phillip, 2.

2 Twins Ean and Ethan Medlen on Nov. 30, 2021, to Melinda (Wright ’03, MEd ’08) Medlen, EdD ’16, and Justin Medlen.

3 Lyra Vazirzadeh Miller on Feb. 14, 2022, to Nadia (Vazirzadeh) Miller ’13 and Josh Miller ’13

Arthur Newmark on April 7, 2022, to Sydney (Carlson ’15) Newmark and Christopher Newmark

4 Daniel Ring on Jan. 26, 2021, to Kelley (Fry ’10) Ring and Kevin Ring ’11

Charlie in February 2022 to Cortney (Jordan ’13) Truitt


5 Jessica (Seaton ’10) Delis was joined by her lifelong CLU friends on the day of her wedding to David Delis. Pictured, from left to right, are Rebecca (Cardone ’13) Cardone da Costa, bride Jessica, Jessica (Thompson ’11) Dobbs and Amanda (Arroyo ’13) Alvarado Jessica Delis met Jessica Dobbs their freshman year; both lived in Thompson Hall, were both originally liberal studies majors, were in the women’s chorus, enjoyed dancing and singing together, and were inseparable throughout their time at CLU. Rebecca and Amanda were Jessica Delis’s freshman roommates as resident assistants in Peterson Hall, where their friendship developed.

6 Wren (Gray-Reneberg) ’12 and Erik St. Gray on Oct. 10, 2020, in the Cheatham Grove Redwoods.

7 Caitlin Coomber ’12 and Evan Reed ’12 with family and friends on Feb. 12, 2022.

8 Wren St. Gray-Reneberg ’12, was married in Scotia, California, in October 2021 with fellow alumni in attendance. In the photo, left to right: Wren’s aunt Jodi (Gray ’85) Paris, sister Linden Gray-Reneberg ’17, mother Jeri Gray-Reneberg ’78, Wren, roommate and close friend Chelsea Pell ’12 and her husband Daniel Pell ’11.

9 Jillian (Sessions ’15) Herrera and Riley Herrera ’16 on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Healdsburg, California. They were joined by many of their college roommates and friends. Back row, from left: Mason Cleek ’16; Baldric Bermudez ’17; Yannis Moore ’15; Colin Wheatly ’16; Chad Decker; Lucas Frankel ’19; Austin Linkous ’16; David Cheung; Bradey Mickelson ’16; and Chris Hartman ’16. Middle row, from left: Tyler Schnorf ’16; Jesse Coon ’16; Tiffanie Caprine ’17; Holly Dunn ’15; Kelly Cazares ’16; Torrance Klein ’16; Caleb Arndt ’16; and Nicole Hrach. Front row, from left: groom Riley; bride Jillian; Ashley (Marten ’15) Moody; Mary Wakabayashi ’15; Madeline Harbach ’15; and Alastair Moody ’15

10 Shelby (Pleiss ’17) Caballero and Richard Caballero on July 16, 2022, in Cherry Valley, California. Alongside the bride and groom are alumni Daniel Lacey ‘17, Ashley Lomelin ’16, Isabella (Espiritu ’16) Sinor, Ryan Fleming ’15 and Brittney Martinez ’18

11 Kaylie (Sergott ’17) Talleur and William Talleur ’17 on June 30, 2022, at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in California joined by their cousins, Jenna Sergott ’19, MS ’21, and Candace Kay ’03

12 Kayla (Phillips ’17) Tenorio and Miguel Tenorio ’12, MEd ’19 on June 23, 2022, in Canyon Country, California.

13 Taylor (Netter ’18) Wilson and Tanner Wilson on June 25, 2022. Pictured are, from left to right, Josh Cadena ’18, Nelleke Meerman ’20, Tanner, Victoria Lahney ’18, Taylor, Will Arnold ’16, Johanna RoseKamprath ’19, Charisse Palaad ’17, Tiersa Jones ’17 and Miranda

Morales ’19


Charles H. Andrews ’91 on May 5, 2022

Douglas A. Ball ’77 on March 16, 2021

Clara (Tovo ’70) Caldwell on July 3, 2022

Mary H. Crawford ’79 on May 1, 2018

Frances De Sha ’85 on Feb. 6, 2022

Erik Ennabe ’07 on Oct. 26, 2019

Linda R. Frantz ’66 on April 8, 2022

John Joseph Halcon ’84 on July 20, 2022

Patricia (Jordan ’77) Kelly on June 4, 2022

Barbara L. Mack ’66 on Feb. 20, 2022

Sheryl Maniss ’03 on June 24, 2022

Margaret H. Manning ’80 on April 17, 2022

Marshall E. Matz ’77 on Dec. 3, 2020

Col. Jeanette H. Minnich ’77 on April 20, 2022

Martha E. Pfleger ’65 on May 15, 2022

David Regalado ’66 on Aug. 28, 2022

Jerry E. Straughan ’75 on May 22, 2022

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