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CLU Begins Yearlong Birthday Party

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Cal Lutheran University on Tuesday kicked off what officials promise will be a yearlong celebration of the private university’s 40th anniversary, complete with birthday cake and a few verses of “Happy Birthday.”

A small summer-school crowd of mostly teachers sat at long tables under the trees, listening to university President Luther Luedtke talk about the school’s future.

The party was set in Kingsman Park, with manicured lawns and white concrete walkways. The park is bordered by new and old buildings, from the modern multimillion-dollar library on one side to old buildings originally built as storefronts.

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But 40 years ago, the school site was open pasture similar to the hillsides of brown grass to the north.

Mike Adams, a former student who is now director of publications and university Webmaster, remembers the early days when the student union was a barn and the bookstore was in what was originally a printing shop.

Adams’ father taught at the school early on. Adams was a student in the 1970s. His wife was also a student. And his daughter graduated this year.

One building, he said, remains a constant. Today, the faculty offices are still affectionately called the chicken coops--which is what they were before they were renovated for human use.

“When I first came to CLU, it felt more like a small family business,” Adams, 50, said. “We had a primary group that were putting the school together. We had to make do with a lot of temporary facilities. Now, we’re seeing more of an excitement about the future.”

Earlier this year, the Thousand Oaks City Council approved the university’s master plan, which officials expect will cost $30 million to $50 million to make a reality.

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The plans include a new residence hall that crews will begin building this fall; an education and technology building; and on the north side of campus a new gym, football stadium, track and fields, tennis courts and Olympic-size swimming pool.

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