2009-05-28 / Front Page

CLU is more than just a pretty campus to city residents

By Nancy Needham nancy@theacorn.com

HELPING OUT—Habitat for Humanity (HFH) volunteer Gordon Henry, left, CLU president Chris Kimball, center, and associate vice president for facilities Ryan Van Ommeren frame a playhouse to be auctioned off to benefit HFH. CLU is an asset for Thousand Oaks, according to City Councilmember Dennis Gillette and residents who enjoy the cultural and other events it brings here. For example, watch these pages for information about this summer's Shakespeare in the Park presentations.
People who've lived here for years know that California Lutheran University contributes significantly to the quality of life. And no one knows better than the 600 students who graduated from the liberal arts university on May 16. It provides more to the community than just degrees to its students.

Among the seniors was Amy Brown of Whidbey Island, Wash., who started a CLU chapter of Not for Sale, a group dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and slavery. The 22-year-old sociology major plans to teach English in Morocco, India and Thailand before becoming a professional activist for social justice and human rights.

Edward Nanyaro grew up with eight siblings in Tanzania. His family's farm brings in about $500 a year for the household. He was brought to Thousand Oaks to further his education by a Ventura pastor and his family, who met him on a mission trip.

Lutheran groups combined to provide Nanyaro's tuition. The 25-year-old has contributed to the community by singing his native songs at chapel services, assisting with international events, leading an intramural soccer team and tutoring other students. He plans to use his economics and computer science double major to help his native country.

Andrew Wilson of Encino was a career Navy man whose back was broken by an exploding mine while he was serving in the first Gulf War. After six surgeries, Wilson, 45, went back to school and graduated from CLU with a degree in business management.

The first group of students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program received their master's degrees. The program launched two years ago to fill the need for teachers who can work with students who, with the help of cochlear implants, have learned spoken and sign language.

"CLU provides an excellent education to the many Thousand Oaks residents who study here alongside students from throughout the country and world, but our commitment to the city doesn't end there. We want to be of service to the entire community," CLU president Chris Kimball said.

The 225-acre university offers free lectures and performances to the public, conducts research that benefits residents and businesses, and sends students and staff out to volunteer throughout the community, he said.

"We want to be a positive force in Thousand Oaks," Kimball said.

City Councilmember Dennis Gillette said CLU makes a great cultural contribution to the city, with students and faculty bringing the community a wealth of talent. Residents have access to experts in a wide range of fields who offer free public lectures.

The city joined with CLU to build new public pool facilities. The university also offers concerts, plays and celebrations on campus.

Because of CLU, residents don't need to leave the area to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees. Thirty-seven undergraduate majors are offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and School of Education, Grennan said.

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