USC Official Top Candidate to Lead Cal Lutheran


Cal Lutheran University is considering a University of Southern California professor to head the 3,000-student campus in Thousand Oaks.

After a months-long search, Luther S. Luedtke, a professor and chairman of graduate studies in the English department at USC, was identified as the top candidate for president, Cal Lutheran spokeswoman Jean Sandlin said.

A 13-member committee of academic leaders backed Luedtke to replace Jerry H. Miller, who has served as president since 1981.

Miller announced his resignation last year to become chancellor in charge of development and fund raising. Campus officials are expected to name a new president before July, when Miller is scheduled to switch posts.

Luedtke, 48, has been invited to Cal Lutheran to meet with students, faculty and administrators Tuesday and Wednesday, Sandlin said.

"Both my wife and I are looking forward to meeting a wide representative of students and faculty at Cal Lutheran," Luedtke said in a telephone interview.

Marshall Cohen, USC's dean of humanities, called Luedtke "an admired scholar, teacher and administrator on the campus."

Cohen declined to offer an opinion on why Luedtke is considering leaving Los Angeles.

"He's been here for a very long time," Cohen said. "He's being offered a distinguished, challenging position elsewhere that many people would take seriously."

Sandlin said a consultant hired by the university screened numerous applicants from private and public universities before narrowing the field. Luedtke is the only candidate who has been invited to visit the campus, she said.

She said university officials assessed Luedtke's teaching background as well as his skills as an administrator.

Luedtke earned his bachelor's degree at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in 1965 and later earned his Ph.D. in American civilization at Brown University.

He joined USC in 1970 and has served as an administrator, researcher and instructor.

Luedtke headed USC's American Studies program between 1972 and 1978 and served as interim director for the school of journalism between 1981 and 1984, officials said.

His other teaching and research posts were at the University of Kiel in West Germany in 1968-69, the American Studies Research Centre in Hyderabad, India, in 1984-85, and a stint as resident scholar at the U.S. Information Agency in Washington in 1979.

Luedtke is active in the Lutheran church in Pasadena, where he serves as a lay chairman of the Trinity Church Council, the administrative body for the congregation.

If selected, Luedtke would become the 33-year-old university's fifth president.

As president, Luedtke would be involved in shepherding the university through a $70-million expansion project that is expected to double the size of the campus.

One of Cal Lutheran's projects, a 150-foot-tall radio antenna on Mt. Clef ridge, has been attacked by Thousand Oaks and Santa Rosa Valley residents who live near the university.

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