As Ventura County's first four-year public university takes its earliest baby steps over at the former site of Camarillo State Hospital, Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks is racing smoothly along and preparing to pick up the pace.
This month the Thousand Oaks City Council approved a master plan to guide a significant expansion of the 40-year-old institution. Although some neighbors remain opposed to the school's vision of new dormitories, faculty housing and athletic facilities, no one questions the tremendous contribution that Cal Lutheran continues to make to Ventura County.
"The university and the town have grown up together," University President Luther Luedtke told the City Council at a final hearing on the proposed expansion, noting that the school graduated its first class in 1963, the same year Thousand Oaks incorporated. "CLU will be a beacon and a key partner in this community long after we who are here are gone."
When complete in 2014, the university is expected to have new classrooms, dormitories, faculty housing, science complexes, dining facilities, administration buildings, a performing arts center, an expanded library and a $40-million athletic center. Some of those pieces are already in place, including a student union pavilion, music hall and a $4.2-million humanities center.
Under the master plan the university's building space will jump from less than 450,000 to more than 1 million square feet. CLU needs the extra space to accommodate a growing enrollment, which this year approached 1,500 undergraduates and about 1,000 credential-level and graduate students.
At the same time, and of even greater significance to the rest of Ventura County's residents, the university continues to offer a lively range of performances, lectures, symposiums and other special events along with a spunky radio station.
Highlights include a provocative ongoing series of lectures on ethics, a panel discussion Tuesday on the role of women in American history and, coming up in April, the fourth annual Enterprise Development Forum, designed to help entrepreneurial companies attract potential investors.
As Ventura County's intellectual bounty blossoms with the addition of Cal State University Channel Islands, it is important to recognize that Cal Lutheran continues to serve as an important cornerstone--as it has for 40 years.