The fun-filled first evening of a year of celebrations honored CLU’s founders and revisited the last five decades. Theatre arts professor Michael Arndt and his wife, Vicki, an undergraduate alumna who returned to CLU to earn an MBA, created the program. Directed by Arndt, the program starred alumni, faculty and student performers. Displays outlined CLU’s history and everything from the food to a fashion show was a recount of the past 50 years.

Ethel Beyer, the university’s first employee and recipient of an honorary degree in 1997, was sponsoring the event and alumni from the 1960s through the 1990s have been planning the celebration for a long time.

California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, Cal., was officially incorporated on Aug. 4, 1959. Lutheran church leaders had long dreamed of starting such an institution in the West and had considered other locations, but it was on land donated by Conejo Valley rancher Richard Pederson, the son of Norwegian pioneers, that the dream became a reality. The ranch’s chicken coops were converted into offices and classrooms, and dormitories were built nearby. In September 1961, 330 students began classes.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredited the college in its first year, a rare accomplishment. The curriculum expanded to include graduate programs in 1970, and the college’s name was changed to California Lutheran University in 1986 to better reflect the breadth of its offerings.

Today, the university has 2,250 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students in its College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and School of Business. Members of the CLU student body come from across the nation and around the world and represent a diversity of faiths and cultures. In addition to the main campus in Thousand Oaks, CLU also has centers in Oxnard and Woodland Hills.

CLU’s mission 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.

For more info, see