Cal Lutheran University President Luther Luedtke announced Friday that he would leave his post April 1, ending a 13-year stretch in which he oversaw a rapid expansion of enrollment, academic programs and facilities at the Thousand Oaks campus.
Luedtke, 62, is stepping down to become president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts-based Education Development Center, an international nonprofit research and policy group.
Luedtke arrived in 1992 as Cal Lutheran's fifth president and most recently spearheaded a capital campaign that raised nearly $100 million to modernize the 46-year-old campus.
The Thousand Oaks resident said he was not looking to leave Cal Lutheran but was provided an opportunity he felt he couldn't pass up.
"I really struggled with the opportunity because we are in such a dynamic mode at the university right now," Luedtke said. "The university is in such strong condition in terms of leadership at all levels.... I think it will go through this leadership change without a hiccup."
During Luedtke's tenure, undergraduate enrollment climbed from 1,250 students to 2,000, the annual operating budget grew from $29 million to $66 million and the university established new academic programs in areas including business, computer science and bioengineering.
In addition, Luedtke helped establish endowed chairs and professorships and oversaw completion of six buildings, including a 120-student dormitory.
Luedtke's departure comes at the completion of a five-year capital campaign that raised $93 million to build an athletic complex and an education technology center, as well as fund scholarships and endowments.
"Although we are saddened by [Luedtke's] departure, we are also grateful for the time and energy that we have received from Luther's years of service at CLU," said Bill Kane, chairman of the university's board of regents.
Luedtke was scheduled to be on sabbatical for the spring semester, and Howard Wennes, director of church relations, had been named acting president. Wennes will continue in that role until a new president is found or other arrangements are made.
Before coming to Cal Lutheran, Luedtke held teaching and administrative positions at USC. He has been a Fulbright professor in German, director of the American Studies Research Center in India and resident scholar with the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, D.C.
Now, he and his wife, Carol, are gearing up to trade the mild climate for the harsh winters of New England.
"It's a good time for the university to be looking for a new leader who can take CLU all the way through the next phase," Luedtke said.