Pictured: Members of the Nonprofit Leadership Council participate in a June 2019 workshop facilitated by John Jell at CLU’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership. Photo courtesy of CLU

by Alicia Doyle


California Lutheran University (CLU) in Thousand Oaks has formed the School for Professional and Continuing Studies, which is focused on education beyond traditional bachelor’s and graduate degrees. 

The school houses the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program, the Center for Nonprofit Leadership and the new Center for Lifelong Learning, which is where the Fifty and Better program resides.

“The Fifty and Better program is designed for community members who are 50 years of age and older and want to continue learning — just for the joy of learning and social engagement,” said Lisa Buono, the school’s founding dean, adding that the program will begin in the spring, with multiple courses offered during six- and four-week sessions throughout the year. 

The Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals is CLU’s accelerated bachelor’s degree completion program designed for post-traditional students, often referred to as working adult students. Courses are taught by full- and part-time CLU faculty and offered year-round during four 11-week terms per year, and most courses meet one night per week. 

“Many of our students are also wage earners for themselves and family, financially independent, first-generation college-goers and veterans or of military families,” said Buono, noting that this program started at CLU in 1985 as the Adult Degree Evening Program. CLU rebranded the program in 2013, and currently offers eight majors: accounting, business management, communication, computer information systems, computer science, criminology and criminal justice, organizational leadership and psychology. Classes take place at CLU’s main campus in Thousand Oaks and the university’s centers in Oxnard and Woodland Hills. 

Additionally, “the professionals program is exploring adding a new major, healthcare management,” Buono said.

The Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which has been at CLU since 2016, provides affordable, professional development opportunities to meet the needs of the nonprofit leader, board member or volunteer. The center offers an array of individual workshops each year — with topics such as grant writing, board governance and fundraising — as well as a Board Leadership Institute and a Nonprofit Resiliency Institute. It offers individual and organizational memberships, but nonmembers can also attend workshops, Buono said.

CLU relies on both faculty and outside experts to provide instruction for the new school’s programs.

“The Center for Nonprofit Leadership’s workshops and institutes are hosted by facilitators who are subject-matter experts and have a wide breadth of experience in the nonprofit sector,” Buono said. “The Fifty and Better courses will be taught by both Cal Lutheran faculty as well as non-Cal Lutheran faculty with specific subject-matter expertise.”

Currently, there are about 300 students in the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program, while the Center for Nonprofit Leadership serves more than 1,000 attendees each year. At the Center for Lifelong Learning, Buono said that, “Over time, we hope to serve 500-plus community members in our Fifty and Better program.”

Ultimately, she added: “We want to continue to expand the development of meaningful learning opportunities for our community with the hope that the [students] will use their gifts to serve our community.”


For more information, visit CalLutheran.edu/spcs.