Dr. Lori Varlotta
Dr. Lori Varlotta
Title: Senior Vice President for Planning, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Phone: (916) 278-6060

Dr. Lori Varlotta has served as a university administrator for 27 years, including nine at Sacramento State. During her tenure in the field, Dr. Varlotta has emerged as a leader in some of higher education’s most crucial and current issues: retention and graduation, planning and budgeting, transparency and accountability, health and wellness.

Here at Sacramento State, Dr. Varlotta is the Vice President for Student Affairs where she leads a team of over 320 staff in 22 departments to manage the university’s enrollment and student life functions. With Dr. Varlotta as division leader, her student affairs team has attained many achievements which have not only enhanced the present-day campus and the day-to-day experience it offers current students, but which are the foundation for a strong, forward-moving university of the future. Some of the most exciting of these include: bolstering the campus’ student retention program; recruiting and enrolling some of the largest and most diverse classes in Sacramento State history; conceptualizing and overseeing the construction of two LEED Gold-certified buildings: “The Well,” the state’s most integrated university wellness facility, and the American River Courtyard, modern apartment-style resident housing; serving in various campus-wide leadership capacities, including the President’s Cabinet, the Graduation Initiative Steering Committee, the University Union Board of Directors, the University Strategic Planning Council; designing and implementing a comprehensive outcomes-based assessment program; and building an acclaimed student veterans program.

At the California State University (CSU) system level, Dr. Varlotta has taken lead roles in drafting campus plans to meet the CSU graduation and closing-the-achievement-gap goals; co-chairing a system-wide committee on student mental health services; and serving as Project Lead and Principal Investigator of the CSU Student Veteran Research Project, which will help position the CSU as the nation’s leader in recruiting, educating, graduating, and creating career pathways for student veterans. Due in part to her leadership, Sac State’s veterans program has attracted not only national attention both through publications and recognition by government officials, but through significant financial support as well.

Dr. Varlotta additionally acts as a leader and liaison to the local and regional community. Her involvement in this area has led to: a “closing the gap” grant from a local foundation to help underprivileged youth access the University; a joint task force between Sac State and the Los Rios Community College District to facilitate student transfer; and a collaborative project between the Sac City Unified School District, Los Rios CCD, and Sacramento State to create clear pathways between K-12 and college.

Beyond the region, Dr. Varlotta actively contributes to the state and national conversation on higher education assessment and accountability by publishing and presenting extensively on these topics. She has also participated in the design and implementation of the country’s first voluntary system of higher education accountability, a project called the College Portrait. Dr. Varlotta is also a regular contributor to WASC, participating on reaccreditation teams, and serving as an assessment consultant and mentor at several Western Association meetings.

Lori is known for building robust, highly functional teams committed to serving both the campus and the community. Her results-oriented teams hold themselves and their colleagues accountable for serving students in ways that augment learning and prepare students for life beyond college. She and her teams pride themselves on truly listening to students and meeting their needs. As a first generation college student herself, she knows well the transformative power of a college degree.

Her own degrees are in philosophy and education. Lori earned a BA from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana; an MS from Syracuse University; and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.