CLU Magazine - May 2022

Page 1


MAY 2022


Coming Together

Cal Lutheran community celebrates inauguration of President Lori E. Varlotta

Out in Front

hen Kathie (Schaap ’89) Hale met her husband Rich 23 years ago, she was only a casual runner. “The farthest I had ever run was 3 miles,” she said. “But he was doing these 50-mile epic adventures. That was one of the things that drew me to him.” Since meeting, the couple has been running and hiking on trips all over the world, from Mount Whitney in California, to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Along the way, Hale completed a personal goal of running a 50K before her 50th birthday. When the pandemic began and Hale started working from home, it allowed her more time to run. She joined a running group and made fast friends, one of whom said she was considering the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R). The R2R2R is a grueling, 48-mile run in the Grand Canyon with an elevation gain and loss of more than 11,000 feet. Runners begin on the canyon’s South Rim, continue down to Phantom Ranch at the Colorado River, cross the canyon floor, run up the other side to the North Rim, then turn around and go back to the South Rim. The run usually is completed in 24 hours or less. “I was thinking: I'm in a different place in my life; I have more time; I'm in better shape than I've ever been,” Hale said. So began months of training and planning. The running group helped her prepare physically, with a coach and training plan that told her how many miles to run each day, increasing over several months. She also focused on nutrition; refueling was crucial, and she needed to consume 200-250 calories an hour to make it through. Hale had to carry everything while running — including clothing for temperature fluctuations from the mid-50s to 105, plus food and supplies — in one backpack. For food, she took turkey sandwiches, chips, nuts, berries, ginger cookies for nausea, and gels. Water could be refilled at stops along the route. When the big day finally arrived, the group started together at 2:30 a.m. They ran down the canyon in the dark and reached the river as the sun was starting to rise. “It was so pretty,” Hale said. “You're down in this canyon; the river is starting to turn blue; the sky is starting to lighten up.” They took a break 12 miles in at Phantom Ranch to get water and have a bite to eat. One group member who was running with broken ribs decided to turn back. When the rest of the runners continued, Hale was struck by the views. “I've never been on the North Rim,” she said. “It's this beautiful red rock with vibrant green sitting on top of it, and there are waterfalls.” The temperature increased on the way down, and Hale decided to fall back and run at her own pace. She caught up with the others at Phantom Ranch, where Hale’s husband greeted them with ice cold lemonade. The group then split up, with Hale and her husband taking the same route back. She got slower and slower on the trek up 2 CLU MAGAZINE


Realizing a personal victory W

Kathie (Schaap '89) Hale started her Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run at the Grand Canyon's South Rim at 2:30 a.m.

the South Rim. At one point her husband took her pack and eliminated anything nonessential. Five miles from the rim, she stopped to take a short nap. It was dark and she wasn’t feeling well, but Hale realized she needed to get going, so they started walking. Her body rejected everything she ate or drank, and she threw up each time. She was exhausted and started sleepwalking, but kept pushing. Her husband stayed at her elbow, reminding her to stay on the mountain side of the trail so she didn’t fall off the cliff while sleepwalking. The last 5 miles took five hours, but she finished the trek in just under 23 hours. Hale had booked an upper room at a hotel on the rim, so she mustered up the strength to climb the stairs. She doesn’t remember going inside. “You know how you pull off your one shoe with the other foot? I worked so hard to get that shoe off,” she said. “I bent down to take off the other shoe and I ended up in a puddle on the floor of the hotel and I took another nap.” Her husband brought her a pillow, and because it was cold and she was so dirty, covered her with a towel. Eventually she was able to shower and sleep. The only reward was the accomplishment itself — and bragging rights, of course. But Hale’s co-workers at UCLA Health gave her a custom-made medal that includes an artist’s rendering of the canyon and the trails she took. They mailed it to her and had her open it at their monthly Zoom meeting. “It just about put me in tears,” Hale said. “It's just so incredibly touching that they actually did that, and it's engraved on the back with my name and the date.” — Linda Martinez


Linda Martinez ART DIRECTOR

Bree M. Montanarello CONTRIBUTORS

Amy Bentley Karin Grennan Steven Guetzoian Erik Hagen Karen Lindell TRACIE KARASIK

Lisa McKinnon

24 Indigenous educator Steven Garcia performs the Eagle Dance while wearing a traditional handcrafted headdress during the land-intention ceremony in Kingsmen Park.

Catherine Saillant EDITORIAL BOARD

Veronica Guerrero Jeremy Hoffman ’15, MS ’19 Rachel (Ronning ’99) Lindgren Anthony Lugo Angela (Moller ’96) Naginey, MS ’03 Michaela (Crawford ’79) Reaves, PhD Genesis Rodriguez ’16, MA Bruce Stevenson ’80, PhD

MAY 2022 2 4


University leaders work to take Cal Lutheran to the next level. 5

HIGHLIGHTS • Cal Lutheran gets its largest NSF grant. • Angel City Football Club trains at CLU. • News briefs.



10 SPORTS NEWS • Alumna named athletic director. • CLU hires new head football coach. • Fall sports wrap-up.


Anita Stone, PhD VOLUME 29, NUMBER 2


Cal Lutheran community gathers to celebrate President Lori E. Varlotta's inauguration. 20 MICROFIBER POLLUTION

Project gives students extensive, meaningful research experience.

Copyright 2022. Published three times a year by University Relations for alumni, parents and friends. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of Cal Lutheran nor the magazine staff. CORRESPOND WITH US

CLU Magazine California Lutheran University


Land-intention ceremonies are first step in land acknowledgment.

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


Many companies are taking steps to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion. 29 CLASS NOTES 34 MILESTONES

ELCA scholarships help Cal Lutheran with mission of educating global leaders. 36 VOCATIONS Alumnus Ken Magdaleno appreciates 14 Q&A: AMANDA ELBASSIOUNY support he got as a reentry student. Professor thrives alongside students exploring what drew her to psychology. 39 LINKS CLU Magazine welcomes letters to the editor. Please include your name, phone number, city and state, and note Cal Lutheran graduation years. If requesting removal from our distribution list, please include your name and address as they appear on the mailing label. To submit a class note and photos for publication, write to us or visit Click on the links labeled Stay Connected

ON THE COVER The festivities celebrating the inauguration of President Lori E. Varlotta were opportunities for her to restate her vision for Cal Lutheran.

and Share Your News. We hope you’ll request an alumni flag and share photos of your travels with it. CLU Magazine welcomes ideas for articles and nominations for Vocations

— Photo by Tracie Karasik

alumni essays (see Page 36).

MAY 2022 3

A Letter from President Lori E. Varlotta


Moving forward with promising plans

“In higher education, the process is often as important as the outcome.”




seems fitting for me to write this column on the first day of spring. Just as the season is marked by the promise of renewal and hope, so are many of the projects and events we have undertaken this year. As you will read in this edition, we are living into some of the structures and systems we have started to build for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); spotlighting the timely and relevant research our faculty and students pursue; and celebrating our commitment to helping students, faculty and staff find and follow their callings or vocations. We also are embarking on a comprehensive strategic- and master-planning process fueled by the type of invigoration that makes spring such an energizing time of year. Rather than summarize the interesting stories you will read in this issue, I’d like to use this column to highlight some of the priorities and themes emerging in the planning process. In higher education, the process is often as important as the outcome. Hence, we have designed our integrated strategic- and master-planning process to be inclusive and transparent, engaging faculty, staff, students, alumni and Regents. Over the last several months, more than 300 of those constituents have participated in half-day workshops, focus groups, themed groups and more. Our collective work has identified three themes for the strategic plan. The first theme, a vibrant student experience, will prioritize programs and initiatives that ensure our students develop a sense of belonging; participate in high-impact learning activities such as service-learning, internships and guided research; and have access to state-of-the-art technology. Our second theme, bolstering employee satisfaction, focuses on a fulfilling work environment. We are looking at ways to institutionalize interdepartmental and cross-campus collaboration; provide professional development so employees can learn, grow and prepare for higher-level positions; and strengthen the university’s shared governance system so staff members, like faculty, have an official role in providing input and recommendations on key decisions. Our third theme, distinctive impact, will prompt us to enhance and leverage the many partnerships we have with businesses, nonprofits, foundations and other educational entities. It will call us to identify the academic and co-curricular programs, services and commitments that differentiate from peer and aspirant institutions. As we formulate the initiatives under each theme, we will look at how we will maintain, renovate and build facilities, green spaces, thoroughfares and other spaces to contribute to all of the above. This work will be part of the master-planning process that will come to life through the financial support of alumni, donors and friends who want to put their mark on the future of this special place. But this is only the beginning of our work to create promising changes for Cal Lutheran, and I’m glad we’ll be on the journey together.

Cal Lutheran gets its largest NSF grant California Lutheran University has received its largest National Science Foundation grant to date — $307,486 for a biologist and her students to study sexual selection in tiny Brazilian squirrel monkeys. Assistant professor Anita Stone, PhD, the lead principal investigator, and 12 undergraduate students will spend four summers studying sexually selected traits and behaviors in the Saimiri collinsi species living in the eastern Amazonia forest. Stone wants Assistant professor Anita Stone, PhD, to determine whether the females actively center, worked with Cal Lutheran alumni choose their mates, or passively accept the Jacob Jasper ’18 and Stephanie Straw ’17 on a research trip to study monkeys in Brazil. winners of male-male competitions. Each summer, Stone and her students will identify and collect measurements from the monkeys, observe their behavior during the eightweek breeding season and analyze the data. The researchers will employ Brazilian field assistants, take local children and teachers on field trips into the forest, and present the research to residents to promote conservation in the area. Then, back in the U.S. at UCLA, biological anthropologist Jessica Lynch will conduct paternity tests on biological samples from the baby monkeys that are born. At the University of Texas at Arlington, evolutionary biologist Janet Buckner and her graduate students will study genetic differences in blood and tissue samples.

ANGEL CITY FOOTBALL CLUB BEGINS TRAINING AT CLU Cal Lutheran is the inaugural training site for the Angel City Football Club (ACFC), the 11th member of the National Women’s Soccer League. The team began practicing at Cal Lutheran in February to prepare for the 2022 season. Angel City’s new home at Cal Lutheran “provides the elements of a practice facility that an elite team needs to train at peak form,” said Angela Hucles Mangano, ACFC vice president of player development and operations. As a component of the partnership, Angel City will support efforts to renovate the university’s North Field, where it will practice, laying the foundation for the site of a future track. Angel City also will use facilities within William Rolland Stadium and Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center. In addition, ACFC will provide internships to students at Cal Lutheran, which began offering a bachelor’s degree in sports management in 2020. Angel City staff will guest-lecture in classes, team members will meet with student-athletes, and club leaders will host an entrepreneurial workshop for Cal Lutheran students and staff.




On North Field are, from left: Holly Roepke '99 with Cal Lutheran; Alex Mallen '06, Austin Hilpert, Marisa Leconte and Angela Hucles Mangano with ACFC; and Matthew Ward with Cal Lutheran.

ACFC’s director of corporate partnership, alumna Alex Mallen ’06, played a key role in bringing the university and club together. Cal Lutheran has a long history of partnerships with high-level athletic teams. It has been home to the Los Angeles Rams training facility since 2016, and it hosted the Dallas Cowboys training camp from 1963 to 1989. The 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s water polo teams trained in Samuelson Aquatics Center.

CLU ADMINISTRATION Lori E. Varlotta, PhD, President Leanne Neilson, PsyD, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs Regina D. Biddings-Muro, EdD, Vice President, University Advancement Karen Davis, MBA ’95, 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 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 BOARD OF REGENTS Bill Camarillo, Chair Randy Foster, Vice Chair Ann Boynton ’83, Secretary The Rev. Phyllis Anderson, MDiv, PhD Candice (Cerro ’09) Aragon Linda Baumhefner The Rev. Jim Bessey ’66, MDiv Andrew Binsley Sue Chadwick Tracy M. Downs ’88, MD Rod Gilbert, H ’16 Gita Gupta Arnold Gutierrez, PhD Anne Hill Bishop Deborah Hutterer, MDiv Jon Irwin Susie Lundeen-Smuck ’88 Malcolm McNeil, JD Gordon Morrell The Rev. David Nagler, MDiv ’93 The Rev. Frank Nausin ’70, MDiv ’74 Carrie Nebens Nkem Ogbechie Kären Olson ’83 Jim Overton Debra Papageorge, MTS ’12 Michael Soules Deborah Sweeney Lori E. Varlotta, PhD Russell Young ’71 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.

MAY 2022 5



News briefs CAL LUTHERAN GETS $1.4 MILLION GRANT FOR TRIO PROGRAM The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Cal Lutheran a five-year $1.39 million grant to help lower the high school dropout rate in South Oxnard and increase the number of students who enter and graduate from college. The Cal Lutheran TRIO Talent Search Program funded by the grant started in 2016 and each year serves 500 middle and high school students whose parents are not college graduates. All of the seniors in the program during the 2019-20 year graduated from high 6 CLU MAGAZINE

school, and 79% enrolled in college. Students receive individualized academic, financial, career and personal counseling, and attend workshops with their parents throughout the year. Talent Search staff members assist students as they transition from middle school to high school and from high school to college. They also provide opportunities for students such as taking Oxnard College courses as high schoolers, visiting campuses, preparing for entrance exams, and applying for admission and financial aid. Efforts are made to recruit foster and homeless youths for the program.


Biology major Anthony Garay explains his work using fruit flies to study genes as visitors tour the new Swenson Science Center. The public tour took place in October during a dedication ceremony for the $34 million, three-story, 47,000-square-foot facility, which features 12 labs for teaching and eight for research. The building is named for the late regent and chemist Jim Swenson and his wife, Sue Swenson, in recognition of their fundraising support.

SEMINARY OFFERS NEW SOCIAL-CHANGE PROGRAMS Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is offering new programs to prepare religious leaders and laypeople to work for social and environmental change, with online options available.

CAL LUTHERAN LAUNCHES SPANISH MEDIA MINOR During the fall semester, Cal Lutheran launched a Spanish media minor — the only one at a private college in Southern California — to help fill the need for bilingual journalists who understand Latino culture. Latinos make up 38% of Cal Lutheran’s traditional undergraduate students, but less than 1% are currently studying journalism. Gannett Co., owner of many U.S. newspapers, awarded Cal Lutheran a $10,000 grant to develop a curriculum for creating Spanish-language content, and to provide student scholarships and stipends. “For newsrooms to diversify, they must be able to rely on a robust pipeline of talent that is racially diverse and has been prepared to work as reporters and editors in various settings with a deep understanding of issues related to culture and race,” said Kirstie Hettinga, an associate professor of communication and adviser for The Echo student news-

jumping 37 spots to 134th among master’s universities nationwide for contributing to the public good through social mobility, service and research. The university went up to 63rd among the magazine’s list of Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the West.


paper. She worked with Department of Languages and Cultures faculty members Sheridan Wigginton and LaVerne Seales and Cal Lutheran’s bilingual content producer, Genesis Rodriguez '16, MS, to develop the program. Students take classes in communication and Spanish language and culture; help produce El Eco, the Spanishlanguage newspaper inserted into The Echo; and can intern at Spanish-language media outlets.


PLTS will launch a master’s degree in spirituality and social change in September to address the need for educational programs for Lutheran deacons while also serving those interested in ministering in other roles and Christian faiths. Students can choose a residential program in Berkeley or a hybrid of online and in-person learning. In September 2021, PLTS launched a one-year, online Certificate in Climate Justice and Faith for lay and ordained leaders. In fall 2020, PLTS became a certified Green Justice Seminary and began offering students earning master’s degrees the option to pursue a climate justice concentration. PLTS also launched a Center for Climate Justice and Faith, designed to empower leaders to cultivate climate justice. An online option at PLTS launched in fall 2020 had been in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the incoming students, 50%-60% have chosen this option, in which they participate in classes on their own schedule and gather in Berkeley several times during the course of the program.

U.S. NEWS RANKS CAL LUTHERAN EIGHTH IN WEST Cal Lutheran has risen to its highest spot ever in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings — eighth among the 130 ranked regional universities throughout 15 Western states. Also, Cal Lutheran jumped to its highest ranking on the Best Colleges for Veterans list — second. U.S. News gave extra credit to universities like Cal Lutheran that provide the maximum Yellow Ribbon funding to pay for expenses not covered by the GI Bill. The university ranked fourth in the West for Best Undergraduate Teaching. Cal Lutheran also ranked 14th on the Best Value Schools list, and 56th among Top Performers on Social Mobility. The university was among 17 in the West on the unranked A-Plus Schools for B Students list. The overall U.S. News rankings consider student outcomes, faculty resources, academic reputation, per-student spending, admissions selectivity, graduate indebtedness and alumni giving. Cal Lutheran also moved up on Washington Monthly’s socially conscious alternative to the U.S. News rankings,

UNIVERSITY EXPANDS UC PRICE-MATCHING Cal Lutheran is expanding its Public Price Promise program to match the costs of all University of California undergraduate campuses. The nearly $30,000 scholarship was already available to freshmen and transfer students who also were accepted to UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego or UC Santa Barbara. Starting with the fall 2022-23 class, it will expand to those accepted to UC Merced, UC Riverside or UC Santa Cruz. For 2021-22, the scholarship value is $28,182 — slightly more than the difference in the tuition, fees, books and living expenses for full-time residential students attending Cal Lutheran ($65,186), and the average price of attending the UC colleges ($37,655). The 2022-23 scholarship amount will be announced after the universities set their tuition and fees. Since the program’s inception in 2008, 814 students have received more than $51 million in scholarships. The Public Price Promise is open to all students applying for the traditional undergraduate and Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals programs. Students can also receive federal, state and institutional aid to further reduce the cost. For more information, visit or contact the Office of Undergraduate Admission at 805-493-3135 or MAY 2022 7

In Memoriam BRIAN STETHEM '84


FREELAND NAMED TO ENDOWED GLOBAL STUDIES PROFESSORSHIP Longtime political science professor Gregory K. Freeland has been named to the endowed Uyeno-Tseng Professorship in Global Studies. In this role he will work to expand the undergraduate global studies program and its relationship with Cal Lutheran’s Center for Global Engagement. Freeland’s duties include leading an annual study abroad experience, assisting with the Cal Lutheran Oxford program, and supporting the Global Leaders Living-Learning Community and other international activities. He also will pursue grants, student research opportunities, and funds to enhance scholarships and resources for those majoring in global studies. “Since starting here 30 years ago, I have seen our programs thrive with a greater emphasis on internationalization, race and ethnic studies,” said Freeland, who advocated for and implemented these types of classes after he arrived in 1991. Freeland was selected for the position because of his outstanding achievements and leadership in global studies research and education, and for his international professional reputation. The position was named for Japanese businessman and Cal Lutheran supporter Yutaka Uyeno and the late Edward Tseng, a Chinese-born former United Nations official and CLU political science professor. 8 CLU MAGAZINE

Carol Ruth Jacobson 1956-2021

Carol Ruth Jacobson, a former professor at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, died July 17, 2021. She was 64. A professor at PLTS since 1999, Jacobson retired on June 1, 2021, and within a week was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer. She chose to spend the last weeks of her life at home with her family and friends. “Carol was a constant bright spot for the people and places at and beyond PLTS,” said Cal Lutheran President Lori E. Varlotta. “I know that the many who loved her there and everywhere will keep her light shining.” Jacobson was born into a family of strong Lutheran faith and education in Minnesota. When she was 12, the family moved to San Rafael, California, and she was proud to be part of the Bay Area for the rest of her life. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, then worked as a youth organizer at her church. This early ministry helped fuel her decision to move back to the Bay Area to study at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. After earning her doctorate in systematic theology from the Graduate Theological Union in affiliation with PLTS in 1997, Jacobson accepted a faculty position there. Teaching future pastors combined her love of theology, working with young people, and promoting global education with fieldwork in Rwanda and South Africa. Jacobson joined the congregation of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oakland in the 1990s and became involved in local and international community work through her church. Before retiring, she was an associate professor of practical theology and diaconal ministry program director at Cal Lutheran, and actively involved in the Faculty Senate representing PLTS. Her love of teaching was so deep that

she had planned to continue as a PLTS adjunct professor in retirement. She is survived by her brother Mark Jacobson; nieces and nephew, Janet, Kristin, Karin and Todd Jacobson; godson, Nate Pearson; and friends Lu and John Pearson, Erin Horne and Janie Blakely. She was preceded in death by her parents, MaryLou and Carroll, and brothers David and Peter Jacobson.

James G. Kallas 1928-2021

James G. Kallas, Jr., PhD, a former Cal Lutheran professor, football coach, and chair of the Religion Department, died October 9, 2021. He was 92. A veteran of the U.S. Navy at age 14, he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, with a major in mathematics and became a Phi Beta Kappa key winner. He was a 12-time letter winner in college track, football and baseball, and his legendary speed in track led to his nickname, “the Galloping Greek.” Although Kallas played professional football for the Chicago Bears, his interest in the Christian gospel and higher scholarship led him to Luther Seminary in Minnesota, and the Sorbonne in Paris and University of Durham in England as a Fulbright and Rockefeller scholar. As a missionary, he served in West Africa. While at Cal Lutheran from 1961-1978, Kallas held the distinction of being “first” in a few key areas. He was the first professor to arrive on the Cal Lutheran campus in 1961, and the first chair of the Religion Department. He also played a key role in the early formation of the university’s athletic programs, helping to recruit the school’s first football coach, Robert “Bob” Shoup. Kallas spent 17 years as the backfield coach and chaplain for the Kingsmen football team. He was inducted into the Cal Lutheran Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007. He and his wife of more than 70 years, Darlean, were fixtures on campus. Their

In Memoriam home, affectionately known as the “Kallas House” until it was sold to the university, served as a gathering spot for many activities. That special spot is now the home of the Academic Services Building. After his tenure at Cal Lutheran, he served as president of Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, for which he was knighted by the Queen of Denmark. As a theologian, Kallas wrote over 10 books, including A Layman’s Introduction to Christian Thought, The Significance of the Synoptic Miracles and The Story of Paul. The Dr. James Kallas Scholarship for Christian Leadership was established in 2019 through the generosity of more than 50 former students, friends and family members. Former students held a celebration of life for Kallas in January at Cal Lutheran. “He was a dynamic, sought-after speaker, and the students loved him,” said Karsten Lundring, who helped organize the event. Kallas was preceded in death by his wife, Darlean Phyllis Quernemoen, who at 92 years old passed away just six weeks before he did.

Mark Stephen Knutson 1941-2021

The Rev. Mark Stephen Knutson, university pastor at Cal Lutheran from 1986 to 1999, died Oct. 4, 2021. He was 80. Knutson was born to Melford and Orla Knutson in Red Wing, Minnesota; his siblings were Phil, Mary and Paul. The family moved to Albert Lea, Minnesota, where he grew up with his best friend, Jan. They met in kindergarten when Mark spied Jan from across the room and gave her his cookie at snack time. They got married after both graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 1963, and later moved to Brooklyn, New York, for Mark Knutson’s internship year in seminary. It was the first of the many places he worked as a pastor, and his wife as a teacher, while they raised their family.

In 1967 Mark Knutson received a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. From 1974-75, he spent a year training in advanced pastoral care and counseling, and in 1981 earned a master’s degree in counseling from Bemidji State University in Minnesota, where he served as campus minister before coming to Cal Lutheran in 1986. At Cal Lutheran, Mark Knutson served as university pastor, and Jan Knutson taught adolescent and human development and supervised student teachers. Mark Knutson encouraged students to get involved with charities and helping others. “During their college years, students are vulnerable to introspection,” he once said. “Part of their education here is raising their consciousness of the world around them, to get them outside of their selves.” Knutson was a classical pianist who loved music, especially jazz, but loved his family above all. He was preceded in death by Jan Knutson, who passed away in 2017. He is survived by his children Jim Knutson, married to Debbie; Chris Sogn, married to Kristi; and Molly Knutson-Keller, married to Doug; four grandchildren, Jasper, Betsy, Dexter and Satchel; in-laws Jim and Polly Gorder, Carol Gorder and Marsha Knutson; and many nieces and nephews.

Doris Samuelson 1928-2021

Doris Samuelson, the matriarch of one of the most supportive and generous families in Cal Lutheran history, died Dec. 8, 2021, at age 93. She was born in Los Angeles to Ernest and Esther Carlson, and was the younger sister of Barbara. After attending USC and pledging Tri Delta sorority, she married Robert “Bob” Samuelson. They were married for nearly 60 years, until Bob passed away in 2008. Doris Samuelson was one of the uni-

versity’s biggest champions and relentlessly advocated for its Lutheran values. “Her physical, intellectual and emotional energies were inspiring,” said Cal Lutheran President Lori E. Varlotta. The Samuelsons played a significant role in the development of Cal Lutheran from early on. The family’s real estate development company, Samuelson Partners, helped construct some of the first buildings on campus, and Bob Samuelson served as a regent, convocator, and chairman of the Board of Regents Property and Planning Committee. Doris Samuelson was involved in the company and played an important role on the board of the family’s Samuelson Foundation, whose philanthropic gifts made possible the Samuelson Chapel, Samuelson Aquatics Center, Pearson Library, Preus-Brandt Forum, George “Sparky” Anderson Field, and ongoing support for the Annual Fund. She also oversaw the Ernest and Esther Carlson Scholarship, awarded annually to a Christian student who cannot attend CLU without scholarship assistance. Doris and Bob Samuelson were committed to a life that exemplified their Christian faith. They generously donated to numerous organizations in addition to Cal Lutheran, including their local YMCA; their home church, Lutheran Church in the Foothills; and Beacon Housing, a Los Angeles nonprofit founded by the Samuelsons that provides low-cost housing and education services. An avid golfer who traveled to 86 countries, Doris Samuelson had a passion for people. A member of the Golden Girls’ Club, she loved spending time with friends and family, splitting her time between Rancho Mirage, Balboa Island and her hometown of La Cañada Flintridge. She encouraged her children and grandchildren to attend Cal Lutheran, and became a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent of CLU alumni. Doris Samuelson is survived by her daughter Gail S. McGinnis, married to Gary ’72; daughter Brooke Bustrum, married to Scott; son Scot Samuelson, married to Liz; daughter Jill Abejon, married to Jhoe; 12 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren, who lovingly knew her as Mama Dodo. MAY 2022 9

Sports News

Alumna named Cal Lutheran




lumna Holly Roepke ’14 has been named director of athletics at Cal Lutheran. A former soccer standout and member of the Alumni Association Athletic Hall of Fame, the Thousand Oaks resident returned to her alma mater in July as senior associate director of athletics, and began serving as interim director in October. In her new role, Roepke supports the development of more than 500 studentathletes and oversees 22 varsity and six junior varsity teams, more than 75 coaches and additional staff. She previously served as the senior associate athletic director at Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont, and assistant athletic director for diversity, equity and inclusion at Grinnell College in Iowa. Roepke, a two-time All-American, was an All- Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) First Team honoree for four years, SCIAC Player of the Year in 1998 and Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame female College Athlete of the Year in 1999. The death of her faculty mentor and a struggle to find her place academically while working several jobs led Roepke to leave Cal Lutheran with a semester to go. She later returned in the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program, juggling classes with her responsibilities as a single mom while working full time as a coach and physical education teacher. She earned a degree in organizational leadership in 2014 and was chosen to speak at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, then earned a master’s degree in kinesiology and sport management from the University of South Dakota. “I have had a nonlinear pathway through my professional career, gaining valuable experience to return home and lead Cal Lutheran athletics,” Roepke said. “I am excited to champion success and belonging, and to support athletes and department professionals who all share a love of purple and have hearts of gold.” 10 CLU MAGAZINE

Cal Lutheran hires new head football coach Anthony Lugo has been named head coach of the Cal Lutheran football team after serving in the interim role this past season. He is only the fifth head coach in the program’s storied history. “I feel very honored and privileged,” Lugo said. “Kingsmen football is based on tradition and values, and we will keep promoting that to our student-athletes.” Lugo has been a member of the coaching staff since 2008 and will enter his 15th season at Cal Lutheran in the fall of 2022. He previously has served as the secondary coach, linebackers coach, special teams coordinator and offensive coordinator. “He is a student athlete-centered coach with a deep sense of care, compassion and competitive fire who is committed to serving the department, campus and greater community,” said Director of Athletics Holly Roepke ’14. In Lugo’s interim year, the Kingsmen started 5-0, the program’s best start since 2006. The team also received votes in the American Football Coaches Association Top-25 poll, the first time it was mentioned in the poll since 2013. During the last 15 years, Lugo helped coach the Purple and Gold to four straight SCIAC championship seasons (2009-12), and the team went an unprecedented 25-0 in conference play. Originally from Los Angeles, Lugo earned a bachelor’s degree from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where he was a wide receiver and majored in criminal justice. He now lives in Glendora, California.

Fall sports wrap-up

Sebastian Sawyer


MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY The Kingsmen cross country team finished in ninth place at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championships, led by Sebastian Sawyer, who was 21st. The Kingsmen then competed at the NCAA West Regional and were 19th. The team earned the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team award. It was the first season for interim head coach Brett Halvaks.

Veronica Redpath

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY The Regals cross country team finished in eighth place at the SCIAC Championships, and Samira Negrete came in 39th. At the NCAA West Regional, Veronica Redpath placed 59th. The team earned the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team award. Interim head coach Brett Halvaks was at the helm for his first year.

Tournament appearance and has done so every year since the competition’s inception in 2007. The Regals finished 8-1-3 in SCIAC and 12-5-4 overall. Sonia Chan, Trinity Martinez, Isabella Veljacic and Katie Weaver were firstteam All-SCIAC. Chan, Martinez and Veljacic were named to the United Soccer Coaches Region X Second Team. Danielle Vis

WOMEN’S SOCCER Regals soccer was one win short of a SCIAC Tournament championship in 2021. Cal Lutheran made its 15th SCIAC

MEN’S SOCCER Kingsmen soccer advanced to its fourth SCIAC Postseason Tournament since the competition began in 2007. Cal Lutheran hit double-digit wins for the first time since 2017

Jackson Taylor

FOOTBALL Kingsmen football got off to its best start since 2006, with interim head coach, now head coach, Anthony Lugo leading the team to a 5-0 start. Cal Lutheran had six players named All-SCIAC. Zion Brown, Caleb Casimere, Cameron James and Connor McDermott were named to the first team, while Ben Anderson and Frank Molina were on the second team. The Kingsmen finished fourth in the conference at 3-3 and were 5-3 overall.

Chris Pelaez

and was 10-7-2 overall and 7-4-1 in SCIAC. Erick Mejia was named first-team All-SCIAC and Justin Magana and Chris Pelaez were second team. MEN’S WATER POLO Kingsmen water polo recorded the most wins in program

Maci Haddad

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL Regals volleyball made the SCIAC Tournament for the 12th time — that’s every year since the tournament started in 2009. Cal Lutheran finished fourth in SCIAC at 9-7 and was 11-17 overall. Maci Haddad earned All-America and All-West Region honors for the third time. Haddad was first team All-SCIAC, Isabella Wade was second team and Lauren Heller earned the Character Award.

Ben Brown

history with a 22-5 record for the year. The team advanced to its first SCIAC Tournament since 2018 and finished with a 12-2 mark in conference play. The trio of Stephen Blaauw, Ben Brown and Parker Jory earned All-America and AllSCIAC honors. MAY 2022 11


Scholarships help Cal Lutheran fulfill mission.



IWL scholarship recipients Naomi Mbise and Julia Raszka have had a profound impact on the Cal Lutheran community.

The IWL program offers “a layer of support for students that no other scholarship program provides,” Rowley said. Tamar Haddad ’21, the first IWL scholar at Cal Lutheran, is a Palestinian from Jerusalem who graduated with a degree in music. With her can-do, entrepreneurial spirit, she has modeled in many ways what the IWL program is about. While a student, Haddad wrote and published a book, The Future of Palestine: How Discrimination Hinders Change. She participated in Model United Nations and spoke at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Working with Cal Lutheran’s Hub101, she launched a leadership training program for Palestinian youths. She now works in Ferndale, Washington, as a Lutheran youth minister and children’s choir director. She travels each year to teach leadership skills to high school students in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Haddad and Mbise became fast friends, then roommates, in 2019. Mibse is pursuing degrees in political science and theology and Christian leadership, and co-founded an African Students Association on campus. A third scholarship recipient, Julia Raszka of Poland, is a first-year student majoring in theater and psychology. The university plans to bring an IWL scholar every two years to keep up the peer mentorship.



nder normal circumstances, recipients of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America college scholarships for international women meet once a year in Chicago to network and share ideas. Everyone has a plan to help their home countries, said Naomi Mbise, a third-year Cal Lutheran student from Tanzania. The cancellation of recent gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped ELCA International Women Leaders (IWL) from forging bonds. Mbise, for example, is partnering with two 2021 graduates on a proposal to help low-income girls in Cameroon and Tanzania finish high school and pursue their dreams. “I don’t know how we formed a connection, but we just still did,” said Mbise, referring to her “sisters” from Cameroon who attended St. Olaf and Concordia colleges as part of the scholarship program. Even though their home country and Tanzania are thousands of miles apart, she said, “we all share the passion that we want to see women in our societies being able to access formal education and to have opportunities for international education, as we did.” In the last four years, Cal Lutheran has welcomed young women from Palestine, Tanzania and Poland under the IWL program, which is one of the benefits of the university’s affiliation with the ELCA. The Chicago-based group identifies scholarship candidates through Lutheran churches in low-income countries. After a competitive application process, the ELCA contributes $20,000 per student each year, plus some expenses for books, visas and flights home. Even with a considerable balance remaining for students, including food and housing, said Dane Rowley, Cal Lutheran’s director of international admission, the university’s investment is still greater.

Since childhood, Raszka wanted to be an artist on a stage. In southern Poland, she sang with a gospel choir and played piano and clarinet before discovering a community in musical theater. Through her Lutheran church, she learned of the opportunity to attend an ELCA college in the United States on a full scholarship. That was exciting news even though the name of the program made her wonder if it was the right fit. Eventually, she recognized she’d begun developing leadership skills as a stage manager and performer, and the Young Life club has asked her to lead Bible study. She hopes to use her musical theater skills on returning to Poland, perhaps by coaching young performers and creating plays of her own. Cal Lutheran’s interim pastor, the Rev. Mark Holmerud, said Mbise and Raszka have had a profound impact. “They are making connections with people who have no idea what life is like outside of California, and much less the United States,” he said. Visit for information on the IWL program. For details about international admission to Cal Lutheran, visit admission/international.html. Kevin Matthews is a former editor of CLU Magazine.


You can dramatically increase your impact by initiating a corporate matching gift, which can double or triple the impact of your giving. Visit to see if your or your spouse’s employer participates. Questions?

(805) 493-3125 MAY 2022 13




Amanda ElBassiouny thrives alongside her students as they explore the things that first drew her to study psychology. BY LISA MCKINNON


early four years after joining the Cal Lutheran faculty as an assistant professor of psychology, Amanda ElBassiouny, PhD, likes to joke that she’s a senior. But ElBassiouny is in no rush to leave campus at the end of the academic year. She’s looking forward to her promotion to associate professor this fall. And she thrives on learning alongside her students as they explore the same facets of psychology that drew her to the subject in the first place. “I really appreciate their perspectives on the material and the fresh takes they have. It helps me to think about it differently, so the learning goes both ways,” said ElBassiouny, who teaches social psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, and the psychology of prejudice and discrimination in addition to courses on research methods and statistics. She also serves as mentor and co-author on student research projects that focus on such issues as how decisions made by jurors and parole boards might be affected by the race, ethnicity, religion, education level and/or socioeconomic status of a defendant or incarcerated person. Some of the projects have already been presented at conferences or published in psychology journals. Others, like a study on how jurors’ religious, moral and spiritual identities might affect verdicts in cases involving Muslim defendants, are making their way through the peer-review pipeline. The research builds on awareness raised by Black Lives Matter and similar movements, and on her students’ interest in topics involving equity, diversity and inclusion, ElBassiouny said. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, ElBassiouny points to being an only child as the spark for her early interest in psychology. “I was very observant and just wanting to connect with people in different ways, to understand them a little bit more,” she said. “I don’t know that I even fully understood what it was at the time, but I decided in middle school that I wanted to be a psychologist.” How did you turn that childhood interest into what you do now? When you think about psychology, you tend to think about becoming a therapist. But there’s so much more to it. As an undergraduate I went to Brooklyn College, which has a great psychology program with a lot of specialty areas. One of my professors, Aaron Kozbelt, PhD, helped me hone my research skills. He worked with me on how to start a project, how to run a study with participants in a lab. We analyzed the data together, wrote it up and got it published in a journal. That was my first publication, and it was as an undergrad. When I made a list of everything that excited me and what I wanted to focus on, it was all within social psychology. I knew that getting a PhD was the route I wanted to take, because it’s a research degree that was also going to allow me to teach. I moved to Washington, D.C., to go to Howard University, where I got my master’s and my PhD. My adviser, Lloyd Ren Sloan, PhD, really helped me develop as a researcher, as an academic and as a professor.

I try to channel them both for my own students because they were so impactful in the way they mentored and believed in me. How do you and your students conduct research for projects exploring the potential for discrimination within the judicial process? [It’s done] with mock jurors and mock parole board members who meet the same requirements needed for participation in real-world cases. [We] adapt materials from previous research projects, or create new ones, that look like the case files they would get while judging a case. … The variables [we’re] studying are then embedded within those files. For the parole-board decision study, for example, the file included how long they were incarcerated plus a variable, such as what their race/ethnicity was, or if there was a mental health diagnosis, or if they made a positive change while incarcerated, and whether that positive change was related to converting to a different religion or was unrelated to a religious affiliation. What are the results of the study involving Muslim defendants? We had mock jurors … whose identities we primed to be either religious, moral or spiritual, so they were thinking of themselves in that sense. We found that those with a moral identity were more lenient in evaluating the case of a Muslim defendant, whereas those with a spiritual identity were more lenient when the defendant’s religion wasn’t stated. When asked to list factors they used in evaluating the case, mock jurors identified several that were unrelated to the evidence. For the Muslim defendant, a percentage of mock jurors used the defendant’s religion and what they thought their race/ ethnicity was, because we didn’t state what their race/ethnicity was. [The jurors] just assumed a racial or ethnic identity — and an overwhelming majority believed the Muslim defendant was Arab or Arab American, particularly when they were evaluating a case of terrorism rather than arson. On a lighter note, you’re known for using memes in your lectures. What does that bring to the educational experience — and what’s your favorite meme? It brings some humor into the classroom. … It helps [the students] engage with the material in a different way, through pop culture and relating to their everyday lives. Sometimes I have students create their own memes at the end of the semester, which just shows another level of mastery and understanding of the material. My favorite meme is always changing. But one I like to use … is “Know any psychology jokes?” “I’m a-Freud not” with that classic picture of Freud in a three-piece suit. It’s hilarious. Lisa McKinnon is a longtime Ventura County resident who has written for the Ventura County Star, 805 Living magazine and Central Coast Farm & Ranch magazine. She blogs about the region’s food scene at MAY 2022 15

From left, Regent Ann Boynton '83, President Lori E. Varlotta, PhD, Bishop Deborah Hutterer, MDiv, and the Rev. Jim Bessey '66, MDiv, participate in the Feb. 27 installation ceremony.


Cal Lutheran community gathers to celebrate the inauguration of President Varlotta and her hopes for the future. BY CATHERINE SAILLANT



he academic, spiritual and ceremonial events celebrating the inauguration of President Lori E. Varlotta, PhD — delayed by the pandemic — were opportunities to restate her vision for the campus. Cal Lutheran is transitioning to a future-focused, faith-based institution that celebrates diversity and academic excellence in ways that prioritize the Lutheran values of grace, generosity, inclusivity and service to neighbor, Varlotta said in an inaugural address. Here, students, faculty and staff alike are encouraged to explore and navigate the “messy middle” that lives between the two extremes on any spectrum. By spotlighting and examining the “messy middle,” the 61-yearold university will help students hone the critical and creative thinking skills that are increasingly important in a world marked by extremist rhetoric and polarization. “If we can block the construction of echo chambers, Cal Lutheran will stand apart from most of the universities — even the elite ones — that surround us,” said Varlotta, who began serving as president in September 2020. Most of the inaugural events took place the week of Feb. 22-27 inside a large tent constructed on campus to keep the activities as safe as possible during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. The festivities kicked off to a fun start on Feb. 12 during a 5K Run/Walk with Varlotta that meandered through the Cal Lutheran campus. Over 150 runners and walkers participated, from folks running full force to families with strollers, said Varlotta, a dedicated runner. Dozens of student volunteers along the route cheered on participants, played music and provided water. The football team created a tunnel for people to run through. A Faculty/Staff Social with the president on Feb. 17 brought faculty and staff together for fun and camaraderie. Attendees were treated to food, drinks and entertainment, including giant Jenga and cornhole games. Next up, from Feb. 22-24, was a nightly Celebration of Academic Excellence at Cal Lutheran. Fifteen faculty and two dozen graduate and undergraduate students presented academic research and scholarship on a range of topics. All of Cal Lutheran’s schools and programs were represented in fields as varied as chemistry, exercise science, psychology, and film and television. MAY 2022 17

Among the faculty making presentations were Lorena Muñoz, PhD, associate professor and program director for ethnic and race studies. She spoke on Cal Lutheran’s commitment to diversity, ethnicity and inclusion, and why ethnic and race studies programs matter. Michael Panesis, MBA, executive director of the Steven Dorfman Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, presented scholarship on “Liberal Starts: The Beneficial Relationship Between the Liberal Arts and Entrepreneurship.” Each night began with a display of posters demonstrating graduate and undergraduate research in students’ respective majors. The presentations demonstrated that research is taking place not only on campus, but also in labs and field work around the world, including Switzerland and Central America. “You could choose your research project or your academic adventure, from very scientific and technical, to artistic and musical presentations,” said Regina Biddings-Muro, EdD, vice president of University Advancement, chair of the 14 subcommittees of faculty and staff who worked to bring the inaugural events, including the Academic Excellence Showcase, to fruition. “Faculty and staff really showed up,” she said. “It’s really out of love for the institution and support for the mission. Yes, it’s about ushering in new leadership, but it’s also an opportunity for the university to showcase what an impressive place this is.” Inaugural events wrapped up with a worship service — filled with personalized prayers and poems on Feb. 26 — and the installation ceremony the following day. Varlotta said she is grateful to those who planned and participated in the many activities, describing them as “the fruits of highly collective 18 CLU MAGAZINE

efforts.” Now she’s ready to use the collegial spirit and energy of inauguration to continue the forward momentum. Since her arrival, she’s put in place a strategic- and masterplanning process that will map out the university’s goals in the coming years, from expanding the physical campus to enhancing student and work experiences. She has created a robust DEI structure that works hand-in-hand with the university’s identity as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. And she worked on the committee to set up shared governance between the Regents and staff, with the first staff senate election just months away. Carol Chung, MA, director of Graduate Admissions, praised Varlotta’s “charge to lead” during the inaugural events. “I saw Varlotta put in the work to make it happen,” Chung said of the addition of staff to shared governance. “I can personally say that her words are backed by her actions.” Bringing Cal Lutheran to an even higher level of excellence will require all hands on deck, the president said in her inaugural address. And she’s not unaware of the task ahead as the world recovers from a global health crisis, social unrest and major disruptions to everyday life. “At a moment in time when so many are reeling from the impact of a fractured world,” she said, “wouldn’t our current and prospective students and employees relish being part of a community that pulls together rather than polarizes?” Catherine Saillant covered politics and government for the Los Angeles Times for 20 years. Prior to that she was a staff writer and covered higher education for the Ventura County Star. She’s now a freelance writer based in Newbury Park, California.


Photo at far left: Bishop Brenda Bos, MDiv, Bishop Deborah Hutterer, MDiv, Board of Regents Chairman Bill Camarillo, President Lori E. Varlotta and Bishop Megan Rohrer, MDiv, DMin, gather after the worship service Feb. 26. Second photo from left: Varlotta enjoys a moment during the worship service.

From left, Jacob Suchman, Naomi Mbise, Jesus Raya, Varlotta, Jessica Helms '04 and Maya Fleming attend the worship service Feb. 26.

The Regals Lacrosse team and Varlotta celebrate completing the 5K Family Run/Walk on Feb. 12.

From left, Mike Panesis, PhD, Rick Holigrocki, PhD, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, PhD, Varlotta, Jamie Banker, PhD, Dennis Goldenson, MS '21, and Mary Oksala, PhD, attend the Celebration of Academic Excellence on Feb. 24.

From left, Julianne De Caro, Sara Martinez, Varlotta, Elizabeth Gates and Jaynessa Lopez '16 pose for a photo at the reception following the installation Feb. 27.



Project raises awareness and gives students an extensive, meaningful research experience as undergraduates. BY AMY BENTLEY



its of your pants, shirts, socks and fleece jackets are polluting local waters. Cal Lutheran biology students have discovered this disturbing fashion dilemma as part of a scientific research project. For the past four years, CLU biology professor Andrea Huvard, PhD, has guided dozens of students in a long-term research project: They are studying the presence of microfibers in the ocean, sediments and marine animals around Southern California.

For their research, Cal Lutheran students collected water samples from locations throughout Southern California, including Point Mugu.


Students dissect a mussel as part of their research to find microfibers.

Microfibers, a subcategory of microplastics, are tiny fibers that come from synthetic clothing made of polyester, acrylic and nylon (these materials represent about 60% of all clothes made around the world). When you clean these garments, the microfibers end up in a washing machine’s gray water, and ultimately the ocean, where they don’t break down. The CLU biology students are learning how polluted local waters are, and what animals are ingesting these microfibers, among other things. Huvard’s goal is to give her students an interesting, relevant research project that’s doable during their time at Cal Lutheran. The project raises awareness about pollution and gives the students an extensive, meaningful research experience as undergraduates. “I pull them in when they are young and I train them,” she said. “I try to get them to go from beginning to end, from formulating hypotheses to developing methods, implementing those methods, collecting data, then analyzing data, writing and presenting.” Microfibers, she said, are easy to measure and see under a microscope — “and they are everywhere.” Alex Mazaheri, a junior majoring in biology, has been working on the project since his sophomore year. The microfibers study is his first experience working on a large research project. “It’s super interesting. I feel we’re doing meaningful research,” Mazaheri said. “You get a lot of people who care about the subject, [and] you get to make a meaningful 22 CLU MAGAZINE

connection to the professor.” Keury Ortez Hernandez, also a third-year biology major, said participating in the project has opened her eyes to the scope of the microfiber pollution problem, and made her more aware of not just what she wears, but also what she eats. She used to dine on mussels, but after learning about the presence of microfibers in mussels, she’s cut back. Students in the class collected water and sediment samples from locations such as Point Mugu, the Sycamore Canyon watershed, Channel Islands Harbor, Newport Harbor and Mission Bay. They also collected and examined microfibers in different fish, including anchovies, sardines and grunion, and in invertebrates such as mussels and local squid purchased from the fish market at Channel Islands Harbor. Students were interested in which locations had the most microfibers and also how these microfibers move through marine organisms and the food chain. The animals can ingest microfibers directly from the water, from filtering that water, or from eating an animal that already ingested microfibers. In Huvard’s large lab, teams of students dissected fish gills and treated the samples with hydrogen peroxide, which dissolves the tissue and leaves behind fibers that can be seen under a microscope. “We had a student who was really interested in Newport Harbor and compared Newport Harbor with Channel Islands Harbor, and the open coast of Oxnard with the open coast of Newport,” Huvard said. “They found the harbors have way

Working in a garage during the pandemic, students Mia LeClerc and Eli Hill separate microfibers from sediment.

more microfibers than the open coast.” According to Huvard, the presence of microfibers in local water, sediment and fish is not a danger to people “as far as we know.” Still, it’s important to raise awareness of water pollution and human habits of consumption that lead to pollution, she said. Huvard requires that her students attend a professional conference to present their research. It’s difficult for undergraduates to get research published, but Huvard encourages them to try. One student, Chloe Mankin, copublished an article with Huvard in the September 2020 issue of the American Journal of Undergraduate Research on microfibers in mussels from Southern California harbors, beaches and supermarkets. Keury Ortez Hernandez, her brother Steven Ortiz Hernandez and senior Ashley Rauda have been examining microfibers in grunion they collected at night at Topanga Canyon Beach while the fish were spawning on shore. During summer, they will begin collecting oysters farmed in California for the project, and hope one day to publish a paper on the subject. Mazaheri and his team have been investigating

A filtering apparatus helps students remove sediments.

Bits of your pants, shirts, socks and fleece jackets are polluting local waters


microfibers in squid. They found more microfibers in the guts than the gills, he said, and have seen fibers in a range of colors: blue, black, red, yellow, green and clear. “There hasn’t been too much research with squids and microfibers,” Mazaheri said. “We’re just trying to show that they’re there, and maybe later down the line we can do an experiment on how toxic they are. Microfibers are carcinogens because the dyes that make up their color are carcinogenic.” Perhaps the students’ research, he said, and that of other scientists, could be used as evidence leading to legislation that would tighten regulations on washing machines, or improve filtering to lessen water pollution. It also could encourage consumers to ditch their polyester pants.

Amy Bentley, a professional journalist for 35 years, has written for media, businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and publications including the Ventura County Star and Beachcombing Magazine. She covers topics ranging from education, water and the environment to parenting, travel and healthcare. MAY 2022 23


Indigenous educators Steven Garcia and Kathy Willcuts lead a landintention ceremony that involved a walk from south to north campus.

RESPECTING HISTORY Land-intention ceremonies are Cal Lutheran’s first step in developing a Chumash-led land acknowledgment. BY KAREN LINDELL

In the wind air water soil sky sun moon Stars planets animals birds memories Laughter tears This Indian past this Indian future Waits — John Trudell, Lakota activist and poet


s the wind exhaled, it shook the grounds of Cal Lutheran. Midday in January at Kinsgmen Park, a few students pulled up their hoodies. But Kathy Willcuts and Steven Garcia, the latter wearing traditional handcrafted American Indian attire with a headdress fashioned as an eagle’s head, welcomed the wind as a living, breathing presence. Indigenous educators Willcuts, who is Lakota, and Garcia, who is Tongva, Mescalero Apache and Yaqui, then danced, shared stories and intoned a blessing as more than 100 students, faculty, staff and community members intently listened and looked on. 24 CLU MAGAZINE

They were gathered for a ceremony to commemorate a journey Cal Lutheran is taking for the first time: acknowledging the original inhabitants of the campus grounds, the Chumash, and healing the university’s relationship with the people and their land. Cal Lutheran is known for its Scandinavian roots. But thousands of years before Richard Pederson, the son of Norwegian immigrants, donated 130 acres of land for a new Lutheran college, and before Cal Lutheran was founded in 1959, the Chumash called the land home. The land-intention ceremony, and another the following day featuring a walk from south to north campus, were the university’s initial steps in developing a formal and Chumash-led land acknowledgment: a statement that recognizes and respects the history and presence of Indigenous peoples and their relationship to their traditional homeland. “The intention is to heal this space, to create an opportunity for moving forward,” said Lorri Santamaría, PhD, Cal Lutheran’s

ing and scholarship. “When a student asked a question, [Garcia and Willcuts] linked it back to a story,” Nascimento said. “This is how they transfer knowledge, through stories. We’re used to reading research papers and taking hard notes; that’s not the only way to learn.” Zach Murillo, a junior and physics major, said he wanted to take the course because he didn’t learn in elementary and high school “the truth about what really happened to Native Americans.” The land acknowledgment process focuses on the Chumash, but the class covers all Native Americans. Windham-Hughes and her students now are figuring out what assessment will look like for the class. Grading and “mastery” of content are not the goal. “Mastery and expertise are not within our reach,” Windham-Hughes said. “It’s a different way of learning — to learn our own ignorance and widen our understanding of what knowledge is.” Everywhere the wind sings in a song Don’t let illusion feed you To the machine — John Trudell, “Child of the Dream” 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 Los Angeles.


new director of faculty development and inclusive excellence and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Core Team member, who helped organize the ceremony. What the land acknowledgment will look or sound like is unclear. “Yes, there will probably be a piece of paper or statement to read at an event, but that is the smallest part,” said Santamaría, a Black Louisiana Creole of Choctaw descent. The process itself, of building and honoring relationships with Indigenous peoples and their ancestors, she said, “is more important, and it takes relationship with the people involved and time.” This first step toward land acknowledgment was put in motion by the collective efforts of the DEI Core Team, the Office of Mission and Identity, the Center for Equality and Justice, and the Pearson Library. But the university could not do this alone. “It’s not our land; we have to develop it in concert with the Chumash people,” Santamaría said. “And first, someone working toward the acknowledgment had to be in relationship with the Chumash people.” Santamaría didn’t have existing relationships with the Chumash, but did know Willcuts and Garcia, whom she describes as “teachers and brokers of Indigenous knowledge,” from other local events and previous collaborative work. Based on their relationship, together, they came up with the land-intention ceremonies as a first step toward land acknowledgment at Cal Lutheran. The ceremonies, she said, have led to an invitation to promising conversations with local Chumash elders and leaders, with future talks and collaboration scheduled. President Lori E. Varlotta, PhD, and the DEI Core Team expect to engage in such conversations with the Chumash and other local Indigenous communities to help create opportunities for the university community to learn about Indigenous history and culture. The team also will join forces with other colleagues to find and fund scholarships that bring more Indigenous students to Cal Lutheran. At the same time, Santamaría and other academic leaders will assist faculty in making curricula more inclusive. An example of such curricular innovation is reflected in a new honors course titled “Indigenous Rights and Practices,” being taught by religion professor Colleen Windham-Hughes, MDiv, PhD, this spring. Students are exploring legal cases, political movements and theologies that have contributed to the experiences and identities of Indigenous peoples in the U.S. Windham-Hughes invited the students in the class to attend the land-intention ceremonies. Afterward, she said, student feedback was similar: “They all have a new memory of the park that connects them in a different way to the CLU community now, and to generations past.” Al Nascimento, a third-year education major in the class, said “it was nice to watch the ceremony and look at how we can begin to mend the wounds we caused, taking the land in the first place.” After the ceremony, Garcia and Willcuts spoke to students in the honors course and introduced them to new forms of learn-

Steven Garcia wears a traditional handcrafted headdress as he performs the Eagle Dance in Kingsmen Park during the landintention ceremonies.



Many organizations are looking critically at their cultures and taking big steps to ensure workplaces support diversity, equity and inclusion. BY AMY BENTLEY


new position is rapidly becoming an important part of the organizational landscape: chief diversity officer. Companies, nonprofits and educational institutions have become increasingly cognizant of the need to address and support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability, religion and socioeconomic status in a comprehensive way. The outcry over the George Floyd killing, the #MeToo movement and the spotlight on systemic racism and gender identity have helped bring these issues to the forefront. While DEI work is not new, organizational leaders are prioritizing it by adding dedicated leadership positions that have the power, reach and resources to make broad and meaningful changes. “Many brave organizations, including Cal Lutheran, are taking a critical look at themselves and asking, ‘Are we truly an inclusive workplace?’” said Cristallea K. Buchanan, MS, Cal Lutheran’s inaugural vice president for talent, culture and diversity. “These organizations understand that committing to DEI leads to a more engaged workforce, creativity and innovation. And it’s the right thing to do.”



President Lori E. Varlotta, PhD, created Cal Lutheran’s new DEI position and fashioned it specifically for the university after she took the helm in September 2020. The job description ties DEI to the university’s Lutheran traditions, identity as a HispanicServing Institution (HSI), and employee recruitment and retention. “I wanted DEI to be woven into the fabric of the university, not tacked on to the fringe,” Varlotta said. Buchanan said it was both the configuration of this particular position — one that married DEI to the university’s mission — and the access to and support from the institution’s CEO that called her to Cal Lutheran. “This job has to be structured with access to the highest level in the organization and … the resources and authority to make changes,” Buchanan said. She brought two decades of corporate and nonprofit DEI experience when she started her position in August 2021. She oversees a newly configured division that includes Human Resources, Mission & Identity, and several grant-funded programs associated with the university’s federal status as an HSI. As a member of the president’s Cabinet, she is integrating DEI efforts across the university and advocating that DEI principles shape decision-making. In her position, Buchanan helps to recruit and retain diverse faculty and staff; advises the president and Cabinet on ways to reinforce a culture of belonging and social justice; and bolsters Cal Lutheran’s efforts to enroll and graduate traditionally underserved students. A three-pronged focus on accountability, programming, and structural and policy changes guides her work. She leads a seven-member DEI Core Team formed this year. This cross-departmental team includes members from Athletics, Student Life, Faculty Development and Inclusive Excellence, the Center for Global Engagement and HSI programs. The mem-



Angelica K. Chavez, EdD '14

bers created a charter and a website,, with policies, events and other information. Last fall, Buchanan helped the university finalize and launch an Incident Reporting System, which serves as a central place to report instances of bias, harassment and discrimination so they can be reviewed and forwarded to appropriate departments for investigation and/or resolution. Statistical data on the reports will be shared in an annual report. Working with the Human Resources Department and the Cabinet, Buchanan has ushered in other policy changes. These include a one-day floating holiday for employees to take a day off to honor any occasion — cultural, religious or personal — that’s important to them and a “Dress for Your Friday,” which allows employees to wear more casual clothing. “Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and professional clothing and dry cleaning is costly,” Buchanan said. Looking forward, Buchanan plans to work with others to establish equity hiring guidelines for staff, launch a mentoring program for students of color, and develop a work climate survey for employees.


Another leader in the field is Cal Lutheran alumna Angelica K. Chavez, EdD ’14, who joined the Simi Valley Unified School District in July as its inaugural coordinator of diversity, equity, inclusion and humanities. Previously an assistant high school principal in Simi Valley and high school history teacher, Chavez has been a lifelong advocate for DEI in education. “DEI is not a passing phase,” Chavez said. “Americans have always believed in liberty and justice for all, but these things haven’t unfolded as fast as we thought.” Chavez’s focus is on student well-being. “If kids are afraid to come to school or don’t feel welcome at school, they’re not Cristallea Buchanan, MS

MAY 2022 27


“...heart failure patients are treated differently based on their race/ ethnicity...”

Dr. Tracy M. Downs '88

going to thrive,” she said. Chavez said her job “is like a flashlight,” spotlighting groups that might be excluded or whose voices are not being heard. These can be ethnic or racial groups, low-income students, girls, those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She advocates for them in conversations, whether it’s with a teacher, library clerk or principal. One of Chavez’s first tasks was creating a DEI and Humanities resource hub in Google Classroom for staff to access updated information and quick answers to a host of questions. She also visits schools and club meetings to listen to students and helps teachers and other employees remember to look through a DEI lens. “One of the most important things we have accomplished so far is empowering our teachers with knowledge, especially around our LGBTQ+ students,” Chavez said. This includes providing information about preferred pronouns and names, and regulations related to transgender or gender-fluid students. She also helps district staff understand federal and state education code requirements.


Cal Lutheran alumnus and board-certified urologist Dr. Tracy M. Downs ’88 is in his second DEI-related job. In July, he was named the inaugural chief diversity and community engagement officer at the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System in Charlottesville, Virginia, after previously serving as the associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. His eight-person team is leading DEI efforts throughout the 28 CLU MAGAZINE

medical system and in the local community. In his new role, Downs hopes to diversify even further the UVA Health System workforce to include more underrepresented groups. He also expects to improve DEI training for employees to ensure patients will be respected from a cultural perspective and have equity in health care outcomes. For example, Downs said data shows that “heart failure patients are treated differently based on their race/ethnicity. If they are [Hispanic] or Black [versus white patients], they are less likely to be admitted to a cardiology service compared to a general medicine floor, which leads to suboptimal clinical outcomes in Hispanic and Black patients.” Downs and his team also plan to launch a systemwide comprehensive equity dashboard for patient care. To educate employees about how health care for white and Black patients has differed in the South, he collaborated with the Health Sciences Library to create an online presentation as well as an in-person guided tour for employees titled “The History of Race at The UVA Medical Center: 1901-2000.” “When we tell employees that not too long ago, Black patients received segregated health care even to the point of receiving their health care in the basement of the hospital, I think it reminds us of our history and prompts us to do better as we work toward inclusiveness,” Downs said. In the community, Downs wants to address the social determinants of health, such as education and food insecurity, lack of access to health care and affordable housing, that lead to health disparities in underserved groups. In rural areas, poor health can be tied to economic issues. Residents might live too far from a store or pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled, or low-income patients have to make tough decisions about the cost of driving more than 20-30 miles to get their medicine. Previously, those patients would have been listed on a medical chart as being “noncompliant,” which needs to change, Downs said.


As these DEI officers move forward with their initiatives, Buchanan hopes people will remember that DEI is about a shift in culture. “It takes time to change cultures,” she said. “And we need grit and grace while we go through the change management.” Amy Bentley, a professional journalist for 35 years, has written for media, businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and publications including the Ventura County Star and Beachcombing Magazine. She covers topics ranging from education, water and the environment to parenting, travel and health care.

CLASS NOTES SUBMISSIONS FROM JUNE 7, 2021, TO FEB. 28, 2022. Not sure how to submit a note? See Page 3

’60s Judith Graham ’66, Placerville, California, visited Wakamatsu Farm for its Open Farm Day in El Dorado County, California. She is pictured in front of the “wishing tree,” where short poems, wishes and words of gratitude were written on bright strips of paper tied to a bare oak branch.

The Rev. Dr. Allen Kolkman ’73 has retired after 44 years of ministry, 41 of those as the pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Oceanside, California.

Roommates Lance Clow ’69, Twin Falls, Idaho, and Steven Bane ’70, Scottsdale, Arizona, pictured on their winter snowmobile trip to Yellowstone National Park, have stayed connected for over 50 years and have enjoyed their destination gatherings.


Kathie (Ditchey ’68, MA ’88) Ferkin, Thousand Oaks, California, and George Ferkin recently visited the Alamo on their five-day tour of San Antonio. They visited missions, walked the River Walk, and enjoyed beautiful weather.

David Randle ’71 is pictured inside the Blue Zone at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where he led a delegation of seven people to the two-week COP26 meetings.

Gordon Lemke ’79 celebrated retirement by taking a cruise on the first passenger ship through the Panama Canal following the COVID cruise pause.


Pictured, from left, are California Lutheran College roommates Lynn (Fredson ’82) Byrnes, Dr. Joy (Roleder ’82) Kunz, Susan (Wulff ’82) Hood, Susan (Lovingfoss ’82) MAY 2022 29

Class Notes Ito and Kaaren (Johnson ’82) Cieciorka, who reconnected in October 2021 in Grass Valley, California. They were roommates during their sophomore and junior years. Ingrid Fuelleman-Ramos ’83, Long Beach, California, completed her MA in education (curriculum and instruction) at Concordia University, Irvine. She continues to work for the Long Beach Unified School District as a middle school teacher at Lindbergh STEM Academy. She is an area director for the Teachers Association of Long Beach, and has represented her local colleagues at the CTA and NEA levels.

Kingsmen Quartet Zooms in to reminisce The Kingsmen Quartet of 1982-83 recently held a reunion by Zoom to reminisce about their Hawaiian tour with Dave Watson ’78 and President Jerry Miller; to remember their director, “Dr. Z”; and to catch up with each other after nearly 40 years. Quartet members are Deryk Andersen ’84, tenor; Mark Freudenburg ’83, lead; Jon Vieker ’83, baritone; and Ronald Strom ’89, bass. Deryk and his wife, Kim, live in Snohomish, Washington, where he teaches high school mathematics. Mark and his wife, Susan (Debuhr ’84), recently retired from teaching in Yreka, California. Jon and his wife, Kim (Albrecht ’84), live in St. Louis, Missouri, where he teaches and serves as Dean of Chapel at Concordia Seminary. Ron and his wife, Leanne (Mathison ’82), reside in Grants Pass, Oregon, where he works as an editor and directs music for community theater. By the conclusion of their Zoom reunion, all four Kingsmen agreed: “The older we get, the better we are.”


Susan Johnston ’85 celebrated with her Cal Lutheran kids and friends on July 4, 2020, in Redlands, California. Pictured, from left, in the back row are Matt Johnston ’16, Redlands, California; Bryce Johnston ’85, Redlands, California; Noah Meisner ’16, Hillsboro, Oregon; and Jeff Johnston ’20, Redlands, California. In the front row are Anissa Fraijo ’18, Brea, California; Melissa Pepper ’20, Thousand Oaks, California; Susan Johnston ’85, Redlands, California; Torrey Fernandez ’16, Huntington Beach, California; and Kendra Salo ’19, San Diego, California.


Pictured, from left, are Mary (Wulff ’89) Harrington, Newport News, Virginia; Julie (Wulff ’79) Phair, Bonita, California; Susan (Wulff ’82) Hood, Fallston, Maryland; and Cheryl (Wulff ’78) Shear, Corvallis, Oregon, who were glad to gather at Lake Tahoe for the wedding of Julie’s son Clayton Phair to Janine Farrell on Oct. 16.


Captain Eric Herskovitz ’09 (Judge Advocate, USMC) and Dr. Danielle Barnes ’15 were engaged on July 31, 2021, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Eric’s last day of active duty. Danielle has accepted a job as a psychologist for the New Mexico court system, and Eric will continue to serve as a district attorney in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The couple look forward to many years supporting Kingsmen football on Saturdays.

’00s Nichole (Robson ’06) D’Onofrio, Dubuque, Iowa, is completing her internship at Grace Lutheran Church in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, as part of her MDiv degree on her way to becoming a minister of word and sacrament. The photo features Nichole on the first day of her internship.

Morgan Fippinger ’13, Seal Beach, California, has become a Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder, one of the highest distinctions in investment management. He is currently working as a manager for Charles Schwab. Dagem Asfaw ’15 has been named assistant coach of the Kingsmen basketball team.

Bryan Cantwell ’94, West Hills, California, is the head basketball coach at Chaminade High School. He coached his team to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship this past season. Bryan has worked at Chaminade for 27 years. Melissa (Elam ’95) Baffa, Ventura, California, is the executive director of the Ventura Land Trust, which strives to permanently protect the land, water, wildlife and scenic beauty of the Ventura region for current and future generations. With local partners, VLT builds trails, restores habitat, plants trees and cleans up rivers.

Meghan (Allen ’11, MBA ’16) Tarry, Thousand Oaks, California, received the Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners Ventura County on June 18, 2021.

From left, Seth Demant ’09, Fortuna, California; Matthew Hubbard ’15, Roseville, California; and John Becker ’95, Roseville, California, pose with the alumni flag. They are all employed by the Roseville Joint Union High School District, where Seth and Matthew are teachers and John is the superintendent. Andrew Brown ’09 was an editor on the documentary Ferguson Rises, which premiered during the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, winning an audience award, and premiered on PBS in November. The film is about Michael Brown, whose son was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and “his personal story seeking justice and healing.”

Mary Crocker ’17, Nashville, Tennessee, recently published her debut book, Unveiling Alice. Inspired by a true event in Mary’s life, the book is an opportunity to share her story, and to own her past and the broken road that led to beautiful new beginnings. Chris Matthewson ’17, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and partner Laura visited CLU in July 2021 and loved their trip back to the campus. They look forward to seeing CLU the next time they are in California.

MAY 2022 31

From left: Andy Schwich, representing his father, coach Luther Schwich, Jim “Huck” Huchthausen ’65, Woody Wilk, Lin Howe ’65 and George Engdahl ’65.

Cal Lutheran’s first basketball team marks 60th anniversary Members of Cal Lutheran’s first basketball team recently celebrated their 60th anniversary with a Jan. 29 reunion. From the inaugural 14-player team, four were able to attend the reunion: George Engdahl ’65, Lin Howe ’65, Jim “Huck” Huchthausen ’65 and Woody Wilk. Festivities started on campus with brunch at Ullman Dining, courtesy of Karsten Lundring ’65, the team’s statistician. Attendees received Cal Lutheran jerseys and spent the morning swapping stories and sharing memories of the late coach Luther Schwich, PhD, with his son Andy Schwich. The group attended the Kingsmen’s basketball game against Whittier College in the afternoon, where they were recognized during halftime. The athletic facilities were a big hit with the group because the campus had no facilities when they played. The team members had to share facilities with Adolfo Camarillo High School, where they practiced and played home games. The constant travel wasn’t easy, but the players knew they were establishing traditions, so they worked hard. “We were true road warriors,” Wilk said. After the game, the group attended a dinner at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, where they were joined by friends, family and alumni. Unfortunately, Steve Gross ’65, Stuart Major ’65, Eric Recsei, Rudy Rikansrud, Bruce Wahlin and Barry Wohrle ’65 were unable to attend the reunion. The remaining players — now deceased — are Al Aronson ’65, Jerry Bell ’66, Paul Christ ’65 and Paul Kilbert ’65. Wilk is proud that all 14 players earned bachelor’s degrees, four earned master’s degrees and four earned teaching credentials. Nine served in the U.S. military. Rikansrud earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medal with 31 oak leaf clusters as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Huchthausen, also a Vietnam veteran, was a Fulbright Scholar, a two-sport star at Cal Lutheran and an inaugural member of the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Wilk attributes their success, in part, to the lessons they learned from coach Schwich. “I said to Andy (Schwich), ‘I think your dad would be proud of us.’”



Class Notes


Katie Dizon ’20, Simi Valley, California, has been promoted to production assistant at Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank, California.

Elizabeth Johnston ’20 has been serving as a team leader in the AmeriCorps NCCC North Central Region since January 2021.

Alea Lehr ’21, Boulder City, Nevada, the daughter of Torii Lehr ’89 and Kelly (Magee ’90) Lehr, will attend graduate school in the fall focusing on animal husbandry.

Cal Lutheran alumni gather with their families in McCall, Idaho, to celebrate the Fourth of July, starting with a tour around Payette Lake on “The Idaho.” Three generations of CLU alumni and some hopefully future Regals and Kingsmen spent four days catching up and celebrating. Pictured, from left, in the back row are Erin (Hedrick ’13) Henderson, Harry Hedrick ’78, Joyce (Kellog ’79) Wheatly, Steve Wheatly ’77, Renae Lochert ’79, Craig Kinzer ’78, Bart Gudmundson ’77 and Heather Gudmundson ’78. In the front row are Sal Sandoval ’78 and Chris Jones ’77.

Bridgétte Clyne ’91, TC ’08, MEd ’16, visited St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, where her daughter has lived for five years. This is the view from her daughter’s balcony on Lavender Hill overlooking Cruz Bay. Jillian (Bischoff ’07) Restivo, MS ’10, recently moved to the Bay Area with her husband, Brent, and son, Lincoln, and accepted a position at Palo Alto High School for the 2021-22 school year. Previously, she worked at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield for six years and Santa Susana High School in Simi Valley for five years. “It’s good to be home,” said Jillian, who was born and raised in the Bay Area.

Lance Clow ’69, with daughters Kelly (Clow ’99) King, Tami (Clow ’96) Ditlefsen and son-in-law Ed Ditlefsen ’96, pause for a CLU follow-the-flag memory as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lance and his wife, DeeDee (not pictured). The alums, with their spouses and five grandkids, enjoyed their time in Lahaina, Hawaii.

GRADUATE PACIFIC LUTHERAN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY The Rev. Harry G. Kapeikis, MDiv ’68, published his fourth book in the “Exile from Latvia” series, Time Ends, Love Transcends: Life’s Highest Mountains and Lowest Valleys, a “creative memoir” of his life in Christian ministry over 32 years, plus 20 in retirement. Classmate the Rev. Bruce Harshberger, MDiv ’69, commented that the author “writes from the perspective of two imagined beings, Xrisme and Tex, who live beyond Earth’s galaxy and have been endowed with love by their creator. Their sun is running out of fuel; they are sent to watch Harry’s ministry to determine if this world is a loving place for nonearthlings.”

The Rev. Mark Perry, MDiv ’86, former convocator, ran the CLU Loop da Lu “with you” in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, from the home of his daughter. He said it was a “beautiful New England fall morning for a run!”

GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION Kathie (Ditchey ’68, MA ’88) Ferkin (See Page 29.) Alexandra Garcia Lopez, TC ’15, Thousand Oaks, California, is a partner of Ventura County Solar Energy Groupe. After five years teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship with her husband. Their residential solar company offers solar panels, plus education and tools, to help the local community use renewable energy.

SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT Gregory S. Cope, MBA ’03, Cave Creek, Arizona, has published Momentum: The Transformational Power of Leadership. He wrote the book to share lessons learned along his journey and hopes to help others on their journeys.

MAY 2022 33

Milestones BIRTHS/ADOPTIONS 1 Zoe Nadine Coltin on Oct. 19, 2021, to Allison (Bowen ’06) Coltin and Brian Coltin ’07. Grace Hannah on Aug. 14, 2021, to Emily (Warmann ’04, MPPA ’08) Dobrowalski and Jay Dobrowalski.

2 Javen William Johnson on Aug. 23, 2021, to Christine (Gaal ’09) Johnson and Owen Johnson ’09.

MARRIAGES 3 Gina (Marinello-Sweeney ’11) Frankini and Vincent Frankini on July 17, 2021.

4 Kim Hamon ’11 and Skipper on June

Sierra Ronning ’12 and Jasmin (Henry ’12) Navarro.

Garey Harritt ’75 on Jan. 26, 2020

6 Kathryn (Duffek) Soriano ’14 and

Charlotte Lucero, MS ’98, on Sept. 16, 2021

Jacob Soriano ’16 on Aug. 22, 2021, at Casi Cielo Vineyards in Camarillo, California. Pictured, from left, in the front row are Sarah (De La Garrigue) Williams ’14, Myles Moore ’15, Berlin Galvan ’15, Jacob, Kathryn, Susanna Jain, Heather Duffek and Aanisah Houston. In the back row are Taylor Bunker, Elijah Soriano, Chad Odahara ’15 and Benjamin Soriano.

7 Isabella Giotis ’19 and D’Antonio Pure-

Susanne Maliski ’03, EdD ’09, on Nov. 16, 2020 Likita Nyedem ’19 on Dec. 17, 2021 Ryan Palmer ’04 on Nov. 24, 2021 Ben Pankratz, MBA ’78, on March 2, 2020 Aileen Perkins, MA ’75, on July 13, 2017

foy on Aug. 21, 2021.

Mark Richardson, MA ’92, on Nov. 29, 2021


Anthony Ricketts ’78 in April 2021

12, 2021, on the top of Haleakala National Jeri Alacano ’83 on Dec. 8, 2021 Park in Maui. Pictured, from left, are Jerry Bell ’66 on June 27, 2021 Melvin V., Ryan H., Skipper, Kim, Debbie Fletcher Brinson ’81 on Aug. 3, 2021 Hamon and Steve Hamon. Bruce Bui ’99 on July 31, 2021 5 Holly Bertelsen ’12 and Eric Zeiger Giselle (Fernandez ’14) Field on ’12 on July 24, 2021, at the Royal Lahaina July 13, 2021 Resort in Maui, Hawaii. Pictured, from left, are Amanda Bertelsen ’17, Lucas Mitchell ’12, Eric, Holly, Taryn Thordarson ’13,

Darlean Kallas ’67 on Aug. 27, 2021

Karine France-Matfumoto ’01 on July 20, 2021

Save the Date

David Rydbeck ’69 on Oct. 8, 2021 Roger Salvador ’20 on July 22, 2021 Marcey Schoenkerman ’92 on May 22, 2019 Laurie Tahir ’03 on Feb. 2, 2021 Frances (Covington DeSha, MS ’85) Thomas on Feb. 6, 2022 James Vargeson, MS ’79, on Oct. 6, 2021

Oct. 21-23, 2022


Join us for the ultimate Cal Lutheran alumni and family celebration!




ALUMNI BOARD OF DIRECTORS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Candice (Cerro ’09) Aragon President and Regent Representative Andrew Brown ’09, Vice President, Alumni Involvement & Recognition Irene (Tyrrell ’00) Moyer Vice President, University Relations Mark Schoenbeck ’96 Vice President, Development Jean Helm, MBA ’00 Secretary



Erin (Rivers ’97) Rulon, MBA ’06 Immediate Past President/ At-Large Representative REPRESENTATIVES Angela Rowley ’02, MS Faculty Josyua Gatison ‘22 ASCLU-G VOTING MEMBERS AND ALUMNI ALLIANCE CHAIRS Joshua Carter-McHale MBA ‘21 Vice Chair, LGBTQ+ Alumni Alliance Sergio Galvez ’03, MPPA ’09 Vice Chair, Latinx Alumni Alliance Reggie Ray ’92, MBA ’04 Vice Chair, Black Alumni Alliance


VOTING MEMBERS Joanne (Satrum ’67) Cornelius, MA ’74 Brandi Schnathorst, MBA



AT-LARGE MEMBERS Michelle Blas ’92, MPA ’99 Kevin Cooke ’20 Russ Gordon ’76 Karsten Lundring ’65 Oscar Madrigal ’06, MPPA ’10 Wes McCurtis ’14 Cristy Richey McNay ’03, MA ’13, EdD ’17 Paulina Nunez ’17 Felecia Russell ’13 J.R. Woods ’93 OFFICE OF ALUMNI & FAMILY RELATIONS Rachel (Ronning ’99) Lindgren, Senior Director Steven Guetzoian, Associate Director Amanda (Di Camillo ’12, MS’14) Wallin, Assistant Director Carley Doyle, Administrative Assistant

MAY 2022 35



Double alumnus Ken Magdaleno '89, MS '96, EdD, reentered college as an older adult and credits the support he got at Cal Lutheran for his academic success.


The journey continues Being treated with special respect when I reentered college as an older adult shaped the way I worked with students in my career as an educator and nonprofit leader. BY KEN MAGDALENO ’89, MS ’96, EDD


eing at Oxford University in England, speaking at Oxford Union Hall, was a once-in-a-lifetime, outof-body experience. Yet there I was, a member of the “Oxford Round Table,” in 2005. Very little in my life could have allowed me to imagine that I would be in England at that time and place. I grew up in Saticoy, an unincorporated community east of Ventura in Ventura County, California. Although I began as a kindergarten student at Saticoy Elementary School, Mexican-American students seemed to be an afterthought in the district because we were bused across town for middle school until a new school was built closer to Saticoy. Academic expectations were low for Latino (Mexican American was the term used at the time) students like me. During high school, it was not unusual for Latino students to graduate without seeing a counselor to learn about applying to college. Counselors — unless they were ahead of their time — steered Latinos toward vocational classes. They didn’t even suggest the idea of academics beyond high school. After high school I wandered a bit, failing courses at Ventura College because I didn’t go to class. In fall 1966 I volunteered for the draft, and entered the military in January 1967 — not a great time to have failed out of college. I ended up serving as an infantryman on the border between North and South Korea, also known as “the Zone.” After running night patrols in the Demilitarized Zone for 13 months, in December 1968 I received my discharge from the military and made my way home to begin the next phase of life’s journey. In 1985, after many years working as a civil servant, then four years as manager of an agricultural packing plant in Oxnard, I lost my job because of a change in the direction taken by the owner. I was 37 years old, and my wife and I (we married in 1967) had three children. I’d earned a number of units at Ventura College with an embarrassingly low GPA and

had no idea where to turn. But the adage “when one door closes, another one opens” was about to come true for me. Growing up, I was always among the smallest of athletes, but fast. Sports like baseball and football provided me with the opportunity to use two things that allowed me to prosper: my speed and my anger. My mom died when I was 4 years old, and I did not do well when my father remarried. I was in and out of the home, living with my older brother and other relatives until I settled in with another family for the last two years of high school. Playing sports was always my lifeline, and eventually changed the direction of my life. At age 37 I ran into a former football teammate who was the head coach of a local high school football team. When he asked, “Would you like to serve as a walk-on coach?” I said yes. I also returned to Ventura Community College — as a real student who earned a place on the dean’s list as well as my associate degree. However, my educational journey was far from over. As a husband and father, I knew my choice of higher education needed to be a local university so I wouldn’t be far from home. Cal Lutheran was my choice. I clearly remember my first visit, and the respect I felt for the university when I walked on to campus and saw my name posted on a small sign, welcoming me. For someone who didn’t believe that higher education was in my future, this was of immense importance, and I will never forget the remainder of my time at Cal Lutheran. I went on to earn my BA, teaching credential, and master’s degree in counseling and guidance at Cal Lutheran. I don’t think I would have been as successful at any other college. Cal Lutheran was small enough for me to develop close, lifetime relationships with faculty and administrators.

“I don’t think I would have been as successful at any other college.”

Continued on Page 39 MAY 2022 37 “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.”

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

“I never thought I would graduate from college, let alone earn a doctorate.” Continued from Page 37 They treated me like a student, but also like an adult, with special respect because I was an older, reentry student. I wasn’t an “academic,” I was just an average guy learning much of the coursework for the first time. Around 2000 a district administrator asked me a question that opened my eyes to a new possibility: “When are you going to get your doctorate?” My response to him was: “I’m too old to get a doctorate.” Still, I applied for and was admitted to UCLA’s doctoral program in educational leadership and completed my studies in 2004, with a dissertation titled “Lending a Helping Hand: Mentoring Tomorrow’s Latina and Latino Leaders Into the 21st Century.” I presented those dissertation findings to a group of international educational leaders at the 2005 Oxford Round Table in Educational Leadership, which was a fantastic experience and a new beginning on my leadership journey. Shortly thereafter I became a faculty member at California State University, Fresno, and eventually became director of the doctoral program in educational leadership. My way of working with students in the master’s and doctoral programs was very influenced by how I was treated at Cal Lutheran. I retired from Fresno State in 2018 and today serve as founder and CEO of the Center for Leadership, Equity, and Research (CLEAR; information at, a nonprofit in California’s Central Valley. The organization, started in 2011, develops and mentors social justice leaders, addresses inequities, and provides opportunities for educators from pre-K through higher education to learn from and about each other. CLEAR has also developed the Journal of Leadership, Equity, and Research (JLER), with articles primarily by people of color. Because the journal is indexed, it helps academics who are seeking tenure-track positions but have had trouble breaking in to publishing. We also offer leadership development workshops, and work with school districts to teach them about cultural proficiency, and how to discuss diversity, inclusion, equity and race. I never thought I would graduate from college, let alone earn a doctorate. So many of my peers growing up at the same time were not provided the opportunity and access to attend college, and I often thought I was representing them on my journey. But my journey did not stop with “retirement.” There is too much work yet to do. The journey continues. Ken Magdaleno is the founder and CEO of the Center for Leadership, Equity, and Research (CLEAR). He can be reached at or Visit CLEAR online at


AS RAMS PREPARED FOR SUPER BOWL, CAL LUTHERAN IN SPOTLIGHT TOO The Los Angeles Rams got to play — and win — Super Bowl LVI on a sunny Sunday in February at home in SoFi Stadium. But they spent the days leading up to the event on the Cal Lutheran campus, which the Rams also call home because they practice there. All the pregame hype meant plenty of media coverage for Thousand Oaks and Cal Lutheran, locally and beyond. Journalists journeyed to the campus for the Super Bowl media day that took place at William Rolland Stadium on the Friday before the game (the opposing Cincinnati Bengals met media at UCLA). The Acorn noted that the Rams are practicing for a fifth season at Cal Lutheran. In a Ventura County Star story, Artis Twyman, the Rams’ vice president of communications, said Cal Lutheran “has been outstanding to work with,” and in photos from The Star, Cal Lutheran junior Jordan Buck was featured with her Rams memorabilia. Both The Star and Los Angeles Times featured photos of the team at Cal Lutheran on media day, including head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Matthew Stafford. Cal Lutheran President Lori Varlotta said students and staff are more than just fans of the team: “We all feel like a part of it.” Ventura County Star | Feb. 1 and 12; The Acorn | Feb. 10; Los Angeles Times | Feb. 11 CARES DAY LEADS TO MORE THAN $1 MILLION IN DONATIONS Over 24 hours on April 6, from 12:01 a.m. until midnight, Cal Lutheran alumni, students, staff, faculty, regents, parents and friends came together to show they care. On Cal Lutheran Cares Day: Reach for the Stars!, the university raised $1,048,960 in donated funds from 2,227 gifts, the San Fernando Valley Business Journal reported. (The numbers are not final because donations continue to come in.) Donors could designate the program or cause where they wanted their funds to go. Athletics received the highest amount, more than $269,000, followed by student scholarships, with more than $266,000. Other programs in the Top 10 included the College of Arts & Sciences, Annual Fund, School of Management, Campus Equity & Inclusion Fund, Autism and Communication Center, Presidential Strategic Initiatives and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. The Board of Regents donated $250,000 in matching funds. San Fernando Valley Business Journal | April 7 MAY 2022 39


PAID 60 W. Olsen Road Thousand Oaks, CA 91360-2787


Change Service Requested

CAN YOU HELP? If this magazine is addressed to a Cal Lutheran graduate who has established a new address, please notify us at or 805-493-3151. Thank you!

Thank You for helping our students Reach for the Stars! There is a STAR still waiting for you:

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.