California Lutheran University is in many ways a school with a collaboration of contrasting ideas. From the school website: “… A culture, based on the juxtaposition of faith and reason, is apparent not only in classrooms but also across the campus.”
The private liberal arts college is a small school, with 2800 students co-existing alongside a full fledged University, and, although founded in 1959 by Evangelical Lutherans, California Lutheran is non-sectarian. CLU maintains a diverse student body from across the country and overseas, with nearly half of those students commuting to school, as opposed to living on campus. At the undergraduate level, where we will focus our attention, CLU’s published 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.”
The land for the 225 acre main campus was donated by the Pederson family, who were Scandinavian immigrants living in Thousand Oaks California, nine miles inland from Malibu, where the campus is located. Many of the buildings and local streets feature Scandinavian names in recognition of this. In addition, there is a yearly Scandinavian celebration that students enjoy – not quite what you would expect to find in southern California.
Campus housing is guaranteed for all undergraduate students, with thirteen residence halls; but, nearly half of students live off campus and commute to school. Many of these students are ‘local’ and live at home. Significantly, there is no Greek system, so you will find no fraternities or sororities, and there is no alcohol allowed on campus.
Artistic expression finds a variety of outlets on campus, including two art galleries, The Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture and the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art. These galleries serve a wide range of interests and patronage, and in the case of the William Rolland Gallery, serve several surrounding counties, such as Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
In addition, there are a wide variety of clubs and student organizations on campus to enhance student life. These include academic, cultural and athletic options. In conjunction with these, there are a number of involvement and leadership opportunities, such as resident assistants and peer advisers that help ensure students can grow and develop into productive citizens.
Cal Lutheran has a strong athletic presence with 20 division III varsity sports teams. There are a number of major sports facilities on campus, which include a football stadium, a 96,000 sq. ft. athletic complex, and a large community pool.
California Lutheran University struggled with debt in its early years, and did not develop into the vibrant school that it is today until the 1970’s, making this a relatively modern school. Academically, CLU is ranked as ‘more selective,’ and enjoys a student/faculty ratio of 15 to 1. There was an acceptance rate of 44 percent in 2013. Highlighting the juxtaposition that is Cal Lutheran, the curriculum “…embodies the intellectual legacy of the past, yet its chief aim is to prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” This is reflected by the fact that business, business management, and marketing are, by far, the most popular majors with the more traditional, social sciences and humanities lagging far behind.
The school encourages dialogue both in and out of the classroom and draws deeply on its student body diversity in order to achieve this. Additionally, there are required courses in Religion designed to broaden student’s cultural background.
Given the high cost of the college, 76% of students applied for need based financial aid. In response to this, CLU offered a wide variety of scholarship and financial aid opportunities. California Lutheran University draws on an endowment of $61,000,000 in order to maintain this variety of aid for undergraduates.
For those attending Cal Lutheran for the first time, you can expect diversity in all its’ forms; from the curriculum to the unparalleled selection of student activities both on and off campus. Head to L.A., or stay on campus and visit an art gallery, participate in a club or leadership opportunity, enjoy the athletic facilities, or just enjoy the diversity of your fellow students and the relationships that you make!