Senior Vice President's Biography

photo of Dr Varlotta
Lori E. Varlotta, PhD

Dr. Lori E. Varlotta currently serves as the Senior Vice President for Planning, Enrollment Management, and Student Affairs at California State University, Sacramento. Prior to assuming a Sacramento State Vice-Presidential post in 2005, Dr. Varlotta held positions elsewhere at the Assistant Vice President and Dean levels. Along with the myriad administrative appointments she has held throughout her 29 years in academe, Dr. Varlotta has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has also written and presented extensively on issues such as strategic planning and outcomes-based budgeting, transparency and accountability, retention and graduation, and health and wellness.

As the Sr. VP at Sacramento State, Dr. Varlotta leads a multifaceted division that includes the following departments: enrollment management, student success, campus life, educational equity, and NCAA Division I Athletics. With Dr. Varlotta at the helm, her team of ~30 departments and 500+ staff has attained achievements that not only enhance the present-day campus but also serve as the foundation for a strong, forward-moving university of the future. Examples of these accomplishments include:

  • building an expert enrollment management team that habitually hits its fast-changing enrollment targets
  • recruiting and enrolling the most diverse student class in Sacramento State history
  • co-chairing the campus’ graduation and retention initiative, leading to increased retention in several cohort areas
  • creating and implementing an outcomes-based assessment program that has been replicated on campuses across the country
  • opening “The WELL,” California’s most integrated collegiate recreation and wellness facility
  • establishing a nationally acclaimed student veterans program
  • designing and overseeing a comprehensive student-athlete resource center

Before coming to Sacramento State, Dr. Varlotta held Student Affairs and Academic Affairs management positions in public and private universities across the country. She has directly led academic support and retention centers, university auxiliaries, grants and research projects, intercollegiate compliance and eligibility units, enrollment management areas, and campus life departments. These rich and diverse experiences have helped Dr. Varlotta hone a broad and deep understanding of how complex universities function in the twenty-first century.

Beyond the campus, Dr. Varlotta actively contributes to the state and national conversation on higher education assessment, accountability, and budgeting by frequently publishing and presenting on these topics. She is highly involved with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), serving as a conference presenter, assessment mentor, and accreditation team member. She also participated on national task forces that advised the design and implementation of the country’s first voluntary system of higher education accountability, College Portrait. At the California State University (CSU) system level, she has taken lead roles in drafting campus plans to meet the CSU graduation and closing-the-achievement-gap goals, and in co-chairing a systemwide committee to study and make recommendations to the CSU Board of Trustees on student mental health services. Dr. Varlotta also served as the Project Lead and Principal Investigator of the CSU Student Veteran Research Project, to help position the CSU as the nation’s leader in recruiting, educating, graduating, and creating career pathways for student veterans.

Lori is a first-generation college student who earned a BA in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame (IN) in 1985, an MS from Syracuse University (NY), and an interdisciplinary PhD from Miami University (OH). Though she has lived and worked from coast to coast, she proudly asserts that her modest upbringing in Pittsburgh, PA most defined her sense of self, her commitment to community, and her tireless work ethic.