Organizing for lasting impact: Alumni work to support Crown College

Pioneer alumni work to raise $1 million towards Crown College Endowment

Jim Lapsley (Crown ’71, history)
Lisa Rose (Crown ’72, literature)
Susan Nerton (Crown ’71, psychology) (Crown ’87, computer and information science)

Rewarding, moving, and joyful. 

Three Crown College alums—Lisa Rose, Jim Lapsley, and Susan Nerton—banded together to organize Crown’s 50th reunion during Alumni Week in April 2022. When asked what it felt like to see their organizing come to life, ‘rewarding, moving, and joyful’ were just a few words that came to mind. 

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be there 50-some years later and to see all these friends and to have this incredible emotional reunion,” Lapsley said. “People came to the reunion, and it felt like 50 years ago was just yesterday; it was magical.”

Rose, Lapsley, and Nerton have become some of the most active members of the UC Santa Cruz alumni community since graduating from the university between 1971-72. Their time, talents, and gifts to the college support current students, bolster alumni engagement, and elevate the campus they once walked as students themselves.

They were founding members of the Crown Provost Advisory Committee (CPAC) and some of the projects they led include fundraising for the complete renovation of Crown’s Library, upgrading the Fireside Lounge, and programming for Alumni Day weekend to reconnect alumni with Crown.  

Their most recent endeavor is raising $1 million for the Crown College endowment. 

“We realized this endowment is really important, because there are gaps that need to be filled,” Rose said. “Our hope is that endowment funds will elevate students’ academic experiences at Crown College.”  

The Crown College endowment is one of the facets the college uses to help pay for a variety of courses offered through Crown that support student academic success and professional development, as well as activities aimed at fostering student wellbeing. Crown endowment funds give students the intellectual and practical tools to succeed well after graduating from UCSC. 

The substantial growth in Crown’s endowment that this campaign is aiming for will open the door to the development of alumni and emeriti faculty-supported programs, the design of programs targeting transfer students, and will enable a significant expansion of faculty-mentored internship programs. 

Rose, Lapsley, and Nerton have all made commitments to the Crown College endowment through a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). A QCD is a direct transfer of funds from an IRA, payable to a qualified charity, and can be counted toward satisfying required minimum distributions (RMDs) for the year, as long as certain rules are met.

“The balance between academic excellence and what students need is crucial,” Nerton said. “Manel [Crown College Provost Manel Camps] has been very forward thinking in the kinds of academic programs that he wants to fund, courses that he wants to fund, and then being able to support the students in those groups—it’s a delicate balance.”

Provost Camps said one of his primary goals is to increase meaningful student and faculty interaction, which is at the heart of what many Crown alums recognize as vital to their UCSC experience. He said he is extremely grateful to have a dedicated cohort of Crown alumni like Rose, Lapsley, and Nerton.

“I’m in awe,” Provost Camps said. “I listen attentively to Jim, Lisa and Su because their exceptional commitment to Crown is telling us something about where Crown should be." 

Rose, Lapsley, and Nerton all give their time, money, and talents to UCSC for various reasons, but common ground for the trio is their desire to give back to the college community that shaped their formative years and overall outlook.  

“I very much treasure the formative experiences we had at Crown and the sense of community developed there,” Lapsley said. “Much of it came from the residential college system—people in dormitories, taking the same classes together, and having to think about the same things—and I want to see that continue because I think it’s a really great educational model.”

The trio also emphasized that the conditions they grew to know and love as students of Crown College are rapidly changing amid decades-long national college tuition increases and increasing housing complexities in Santa Cruz. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, for the 1970-71 academic year, the average in-state tuition and fees for one year at a public, non-profit university were $394—adjusting for inflation that is equal to $2,914 in 2022. By the 2020-21 academic year, that amount jumped to $10,560.

Although the rising price of higher education is a national issue, Rose, Lapsley, and Nerton are adamant about supporting students in their own backyard.

“My mother would always remind me that she never had to pay a penny for my college education, and now the cost is drastically more,” Rose said. “I just felt gutted by that information, and I figure as soon as anybody absorbs those numbers, they’re gonna want to do what they can to support current students.” 

Provost Camps said that the trio’s dedication to the college further motivates him to provide the best experience for Crown students. 

“Lisa, Jim, Su, and I have built a relationship that's more than just donor to recipient,” Provost Camps said. “I see them as friends, and I have an admiration for their passion and dedication towards Crown.” 

For more information or questions on how to give towards the Crown College Endowment contact Lora Hollingsworth or give now