Alumna Lisa Rose celebrates legacy of support for Crown College

Longtime Crown College Volunteer receives the Fiat Lux Award

Lisa Rose received the Fiat Lux Award on Oct. 27, 2023. Her peer, Jim Lapsley, accepted the award on her behalf.

The Alumni Association at UCSC is proud to present this year’s honorees of the UCSC Alumni Awards. These awards recognize and honor alumni who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements, made distinct contributions to society, provided impactful contributions to UC Santa Cruz, and who have embodied the values and spirit of the university. 

For her contributions, dedication, and efforts to support Crown College, Lisa Rose (Crown ’72, literature) was awarded the Fiat Lux Award on Oct. 27, 2023.

UC Santa Cruz was an exciting place to be in its early days. Lisa Rose, Crown College class of 1972, reflects fondly on her time as a UCSC student. She was the oldest of four and the first to go to college. “It was all very mysterious to me,” Rose says. “It was all new and surprising.” 

UC Santa Cruz was much smaller in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, with only a few thousand students. Crown College had about 500 people living and teaching there, including students and staff. Describing Crown College at the time, Rose says it was “warm, family-like, with lots of young faculty and young families.” Faculty joined students for meals and attended college nights. UC Santa Cruz was the hallmark for free, top-notch, pass/fail, experimental education. Students like Rose were excited to be part of this great experiment.

Rose returned to Santa Cruz in 1978 after a short stint as a math teacher in New Zealand and has not left since. In 1983 she earned an MBA at San Jose State University and worked for the Santa Cruz City Finance Department for seven years before returning to UCSC as the Director of University Business Services.

Photography leads Rose back to UCSC

Much of her college experience was shaped by photography. Developing an interest in photography as a child, she was thrilled to discover that her dorm, Harvey House, had a dark room in the basement. “The most memorable thing I did [in college] was learning to create black and white photographic images,” Rose says. Black and white photography was very popular at the time and she took and printed hundreds of photos of life at Crown College.

It was her photography from those early years that led to the start of her volunteer work for Crown College. In 2002 when asked to help with the 30th reunion of the class of 1972, Rose gathered photos taken by five other Crown student photographers who sent her scans of their negatives. “I ended up with a collection of hundreds of images and was able to create a wall of photographs that was incredibly successful,” Rose says. “Those early photographs were the key to my ongoing involvement in Crown College. I think of them as the gift that keeps on giving.”

In 2017, during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Crown’s opening, Provost Manel Camps asked a group of pioneer alumni to help raise funds to modernize the Crown Library. A small group of alumni including Lisa, Susan Nerton, and Jim Lapsley raised over $75,000. Two years later, the same group came together to raise funds to refurbish the fireside lounge.

“[It] made our hearts ache to realize how little [communal] space [students] have now compared to our experience 50 years ago. We asked ourselves, What can we do to help? Raise money!”

After this second successful fundraiser, seven Crown alumni founded the Crown Provost's Advisory Committee (CPAC) with the goal of supporting the vision of Provost Camps. 

“We realized Crown and all the colleges need additional funding,” Rose says. That is how they became interested in raising $1 million: the accomplishment that landed them all a Fiat Lux Award.

Rose, Nerton, and Lapsley figured a 50th Crown reunion would be the perfect way to begin their fundraising efforts. “You can’t ask people for financial support without honoring their 50th reunion,” Rose says. Delayed by the pandemic, Rose, Nerton, and Lapsley invited all Crown alumni from the classes of 1968 through 1972 to the Crown 50th reunion held in April 2022. Once again, the black and white photos became central to the outreach to alumni. Rose created a website to promote the 50th reunion using dozens of stories and photos from the early days. After 300 alumni were contacted, 75 Crown alumni attended the successful four day reunion held on campus. It was a hit, and Rose, Nerton, and Lapsley followed up with the fundraising campaign.

With the $1 million raised, mostly for the Crown endowment, Rose hopes Provost Camps can continue to enhance course offerings at Crown. The planning for the reunion and fundraising also marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Rose notes, “Even though we all knew each other in college, we weren’t close friends. By working together to organize Crown’s first 50th reunion and fundraise for Crown College, we’ve become very close.” 

“I would like alumni to be as excited as we are to give back to Crown to ensure that the students of today and tomorrow can have some of the remarkable experiences we had.”