California Lutheran University has moved forward with the contested removal of a replica office from the Gallegly Center in the campus library, despite claims from former Congressman Elton Gallegly that the change violates contractual agreements.
The replica of Gallegly’s office, which has been on display since the namesake center opened in 2018, was removed to make way for a physical archive of the former congressman’s documents. The archive itself, composed of various works and artifacts from his 26 years representing Ventura County in the House of Representatives, has been hotly contested as part of a suit filed against the university on Nov. 15.
“The decision by Cal Lutheran President Lori Varlotta to remove an exact replica of Congressman Elton Gallegly’s office at Cal Lutheran while litigation on this very issue is pending in court is unacceptable,” read a statement released Tuesday on behalf of the congressman. “This move is yet the latest violation of the 2013 agreement between Cal Lutheran and the congressman to establish the Gallegly Center at the university that included an exact working replica of his D.C. Congressional Office and the digital archiving of his congressional records.”
The suit alleges the Thousand Oaks-based university breached its contract with Gallegly by failing to create a digital archive of his library of documents or develop a speaker program for the center, and that officials had issued “an ultimatum” demanding he remove the replica display of his congressional office. It further alleges the school refused to account for $1 million in donations raised for the Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement on its campus.
For its part, the university maintains it has upheld its contractual obligations, honored the spirit of the agreement and denies any financial wrongdoing.
“In regard to the archives, the gift agreements do not specify the type of archive. The agreements do not require full digitization of the archives,” a representative of the university said in an email. “The professional archivists we consulted advised that it would be inconsistent with best practices to digitize all the materials and recommended following standard archiving processes, which is what we are doing.”
The university did not indicate when the physical archive would be available, but previously indicated it would be finished early this year.