Cal Lutheran University is in the homestretch of a campaign to raise $80 million to modernize its 44-year-old campus.
At a black-tie dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday, Cal Lutheran President Luther Luedtke said the Thousand Oaks school's campaign had already raised $62 million, or nearly 78% of its goal.
"We are committed to making a major step forward in the development of CLU," Luedtke said. More than 2,000 donors have contributed more money in the last three years than at any time in the private university's history, he said.
Among the major contributors are alumni Allan and Karen (Bornemann) Spies, a Denver couple whose families contributed $3 million of the $6.7-million cost of building a 23,000-square-foot education and technology building bearing their names that opened in October.
Oxnard millionaire John B. "Jack" Gilbert, founder of the TOLD Corp. construction firm, donated $2 million last fall to help build a gymnasium as part of an $18-million sports and fitness center that Cal Lutheran is planning north of Olsen Road near Campus Drive.
Karsten Lundring of Thousand Oaks, who owns a financial planning firm, and his family pledged $575,000.
And last month, the university announced that local entrepreneur Danny Villanueva, a one-time Los Angeles Rams kicker, venture capitalist and former partner of the L.A. Galaxy, and his wife gave $100,000 toward constructing a 1,000-seat soccer stadium planned in Cal Lutheran's north campus athletic complex.
The university decided to wait until it had most of the money secured before seriously publicizing its fund-raising efforts, said spokeswoman Lynda Paige Fulford.
"If you talk about it too early, the effort loses momentum," she said. "When you have a small amount [of money] to go, it lets people outside get excited about it."
The university will set aside $6 million to support scholarships, endowed chairs and professorships, and endowed centers, such as those in integrated sciences and in the school of business. And $5 million will be used to help cover the difference between the cost of operations and the amount received in tuition.
Cal Lutheran plans to spend more than $22 million on the first phase of its athletic complex, which will include the gym and soccer stadium, an aquatic center and a baseball field named after Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson. The entire building program, which will take up to 10 years to complete, will mean developing about 80 acres.
In later phases, the north campus also is to have 15 new tennis courts, a 3,000-seat football stadium and a 300-seat women's softball field. Also planned are a small baseball infield practice area; a 400-meter track, including an area for field events; and six practice fields for various intramural sports.
In anticipation of the planned aquatic center, Cal Lutheran this fall will add an intercollegiate aquatics program that will include men's and women's swimming, diving and water polo. Until that facility is built, students will train at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village.
Stephen Wheatly, interim vice president for university advancement, said a future fund-raising drive will be needed to pay for the later phases of building.
Of the $80 million in this campaign, Wheatly said half of the money is coming from deferred gifts -- money donated through wills and other bequests.
About 300 donors, university employees and supporters gathered for Thursday night's event, where Dan Reeves, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, received this year's Landry Medal, named for former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who brought his football team to Cal Lutheran for summer training camp from 1963 through 1989.
Previous winners of the medal recognizing people who inspire America's youth include former President Gerald Ford, former California governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, sports legends Roger Staubach and Anderson, and entertainers Bob Hope, Danny Thomas and Buddy Ebsen.