2023 Fiat Lux Award recipients

The Fiat Lux Award honors alumni and friends of UC Santa Cruz who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and distinguished service in support of the university’s programs and goals. Three Crown College alumni—Lisa Rose, Su Nerton, and Jim Lapsley—have provided distinguished service to UC Santa Cruz, and their support has made an indelible impact on the campus. 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 the Crown Library, upgrading the Fireside Lounge, and executing the first-ever Crown 50th reunion in 2022. To top it all off, they joined together to raise over $1 million toward the Crown College Endowment. All three are outstanding advocates and supporters of UCSC. They have displayed exceptional dedication to UC Santa Cruz and accomplished an outstanding achievement that elevates the campus.

Susan (Su) Nerton

Susan (Su) Nerton

(Crown ’71, psychology; computer and information science ’87)

Su’s four years at UCSC created an awareness of how excellent integrated education could be a springboard to whatever came next. She was the first in her extended family to graduate from a college or university. She spent some quality time contemplating next steps, but knew teaching was her calling. Math was always a first love; personal computers were in their infancy and she found them intriguing.

Susan met the love of her life in 1975 and married in 1977. Tom and Susan live on the westside of Santa Cruz raising their two boys. She spent most of her early professional life working with school groups to promote gender equity in math, science, engineering and technical fields (now called STEM education.) She worked as a workshop presenter for the EQUALS Project (UC Berkeley), and wrote grants to fund projects such as Expanding Your Horizons Conferences, and Gender Equity in Math & Science Workshops for Santa Cruz County.

Susan returned to UCSC in 1983 to complete a second B.A. in Information and Computer Science. She taught computer science at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California, for 25 years and held the position of Program Chair for both the Computer Science and Computer & Information Systems departments for 15 years. Upon retiring from Cabrillo College in 2013 Susan was awarded the Floyd L Younger Award for Teaching Excellence.

Alumni Weekend 2022 provided a new springboard for her. With friends Lisa Rose, Jim Lapsley, a cast of remarkable alumni, and the help of Crown Provost Manel Camps, three years of reunion planning produced the road map for the first Crown College 50th Reunion (1968-1972). The experience of planning and enjoying the Crown 50th Reunion was one of the highlights of her retirement.

Lisa Rose (Crown ’72, Russian literature)

Lisa Rose

(Crown ’72, Russian literature)

While at Crown College, Lisa pursued an interest in black-and-white photography. She was selected to teach a for-credit class in darkroom photography to lower-division students during her senior year. Lisa enjoyed teaching, and two years later returned to UCSC for a secondary teaching credential. After two years of teaching continuation high school on the Central Coast, Lisa moved to New Zealand where she taught math at the Nelson College for Girls for two years before returning to live and work in Santa Cruz in 1978.

In 1983, Lisa earned an MBA at San Jose State University and began her 25-year career as a business manager for the city of Santa Cruz Finance Department and UCSC Business Services. During these years, she experienced the fulfillment of volunteering starting with First Night Santa Cruz, where she was a founding board member, and followed by membership on the Citizens’ Police Review Board. In 2002, Lisa began her volunteer work for Crown College by creating an acclaimed photographic display of the early years of Crown that included the work of five other student photographers. She didn’t know at the time that this would be a pivotal moment in her life leading directly to her nomination for the Fiat Lux Award.

Within a year of retirement from UCSC in 2010, she became the lead photographer for Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz, a job that transitioned into board president, a position she still holds. Her other rewarding achievement has been volunteering at Crown College, an experience that enriches her life with old friends, new friends, and the satisfaction of doing good for the students of today and tomorrow. Lisa has known her co-awardees Su Nerton and Jim Lapsley since she was 17. Acquaintances at first, they have become dear friends over the four years they spent planning and executing the first-ever Crown 50th reunion in 2022 followed by a successful $1 million fundraising campaign.

Jim Lapsley (Crown ’71, history)

Jim Lapsley

(Crown ’71, history)

A native Californian, Jim Lapsley is a member of Crown College’s first four-year class (1967–1971). He met his wife, Carol (Crown ’71), at Crown, and they married above the Quarry Amphitheater in 1971. Carol earned her special education teaching credential at UCSC.

They moved to Woodland in 1972 when Jim began graduate work in history at UC Davis and Carol was hired as a special education teacher. They have lived happily in Woodland and raised two children, Grace Marie Martinez and Jakob Cole Lapsley, in the historic valley town. Jim first made wine in 1973 in their basement and celebrated 50 years of commercial and home production last year.

Jim received his Ph.D. in American agricultural history from UC Davis and has held several academic positions at UC Davis, first as a continuing education specialist directing agricultural programs, and later as an adjunct professor with the Department of Viticulture and Enology. His dissertation Bottled Poetry, a study of the development of the Napa Valley, was published by UC Press, and his book, Successful Wine Marketing, co-edited with Kirby Moulton, won the grand prix from the Organization Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin. Since his retirement in 2009, he has worked part-time as an academic researcher focused on wine and grape economics and history for UC’s Agricultural Issues Center.

In 2016, Jim reconnected with Crown College when he was interviewed for a video documenting Crown’s first 50 years. He initiated a fundraising drive to refurbish the Crown Library in 2017 and the Fireside Lounge the following year. In 2022, following a reunion of the Pioneer classes that Su Nerton, Lisa Rose, and Jim organized, they collectively conducted the successful campaign to raise $1 million for Crown College from members of the Pioneer classes.

Learn more about past recipients.

Last modified: Apr 17, 2024