California Lutheran University has selected Lori Varlotta as the school’s eighth president, effective Sept. 30, the Thousand Oaks school announced Tuesday. She is the first woman president in Cal Lutheran’s 61-year history.

Varlotta joins from Hiram College in Ohio, where she has been president since 2014. She succeeds Chris Kimball, who announced in October he would step down after 12 years as Cal Lu’s president.

“For three-and-a-half decades, working at mission-driven colleges and universities has been a calling, not a career. And the mission at Cal Lutheran to educate leaders for a global society speaks volumes to me,” Varlotta said in a statement.

Varlotta previously held leadership positions at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the University of San Francisco, and California State University – Sacramento. She has published extensively on diversity and inclusion in academia, and had significant successes in increasing diversity among students and faculty in her previous roles.

Susie Lundeen-Smuck, chair of the Cal Lutheran Board of Regents, said Varlotta is uniquely qualified to lead the university.

“She stood out from the beginning of the search process as an energetic, creative and inspirational president, and we are thrilled that she will be steering this university into its next era,” she said in a statement.

Varlotta holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Science in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University and an interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership and feminist philosophy from Miami University in Ohio.