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$10,000 Amgen Gift to Help Fund Cal Lutheran Lecture Series : Education: Biotechnology firm will co-sponsor talks on genetics research. University hopes for more partnerships.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As Ventura County’s only four-year university approaches the 21st Century, Cal Lutheran University administrators hope to forge more partnerships with their Thousand Oaks neighbor, Amgen.

And if a recent donation from Amgen is any indication, the biotechnology firm is open to the suggestion.

Amgen’s $10,000 gift to the college’s Harold Stoner Clark Lecture Series marks the first time the company has donated to the annual program, which provides students with lecturers who address issues combining philosophy and scientific research.

George Engdahl, a vice president at Cal Lutheran, said he would like to expand partnerships between the school and Amgen. “Relationships start at one level and grow to another,” Engdahl said. “This is one step, but it’s an important one.”

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Engdahl said he would like to see the firm provide more educational opportunities for Cal Lutheran’s science students, starting with access to the company’s own lecturers. “They have more resources than we do,” Engdahl said. “Amgen can bring in the world’s greatest scientists and researchers to lecture their employees. We would like to share in that as an institution.”

Amgen spokeswoman Lynne Connell said the firm, which has gained worldwide recognition because of its research on an anti-obesity gene, is co-sponsoring the series because the theme this year is genetics research.

“Genetics is a field we’re involved with, and we thought it would be an appropriate and a good cause to give to,” Connell said.

School officials said Amgen’s donation to the school’s lecture series is allowing the college to draw some premier speakers.

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The 1995 and 1996 series, which is free and open to the public, will feature Daniel J. Kevles, a Caltech professor, and Arthur L. Caplan, director of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Clinton Administration Task Force on Healthcare Reform.

The lecture series is only one of the partnerships between Amgen and Cal Lutheran.

The school has 65 Amgen employees enrolled in its adult education program, which provides evening classes for those working on their B.A. or master’s degrees. DeAnne Taylor, the school’s director of enrollment services for graduate and adult programs, said the biggest draw for Amgen employees is a new MBA concentration in health care management.

“The advantage to us is that employees are getting [corporate] assistance with tuition to reach their goals without financial strain,” Taylor said. “We’re pleased Amgen is willing to support higher education.”

School officials said they would like to expand programs that prepare students for the real world through Amgen, which already provides internships and work experience to the Cal Lutheran population.

“Amgen provides us with sort of a model,” Engdahl said. “Microbiology is an important academic focus of our school. A lot of our graduates have majored in that field and gone into that field. This is about getting an education and being able to get a job.”


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