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Thousand Oaks university to build new arts center with gift from former employee

Ethel Beyer died in November at age 104. She was California Lutheran University's first employee.
Ethel Beyer died in November at age 104. She was California Lutheran University's first employee. Erik Hagen

California Lutheran University has big plans for a new arts center - thanks to its first employee, Ethel Beyer.

Beyer donated her entire estate to the school following her death last November. 

The school announced that $829,000 of those funds will be used to build a stand-alone arts center for the private, liberal arts school located in Thousand Oaks.

Students currently perform in an old gym that's been renovated and the school's Samuelson Chapel, said university spokesperson Karin Grennan. The school also leases performance space from the local arts plaza.

"Leaving her estate to us really illustrated how much this place meant to her," Grennan said. "She considered us her family."

Beyer, who died at age 104, first began work for the school in 1957 - two years before it was officially founded. She worked as an administrative assistant to the office of the school president, faculty office, grants and scholarships department and business office before retiring in 1997.

Beyer's estate will also go to establishing a $10,000 music scholarship for keyboarding students.

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