2023 Fiat Lux Award recipient

The UC Santa Cruz Ethos Award recognizes UC Santa Cruz alumni whose work and contribution to their community embodies and reflects the ethos of UCSC. The award is given to alumni who embrace diversity, strive for an inclusive community, and encourage the free exchange of ideas. The awardee is committed to serving society and advancing knowledge; displaying respect, trust, and support that strengthens their community; and advocating for equitable access, respect, and human dignity. Alumni deserving of this award celebrate others’ heritage, achievements, uniqueness, and contributions. This year’s recipient, as both an alumna and faculty emerita, embodies the Banana Slug spirit and expresses it through her work.

Bettina Aptheker (Ph.D. ’83, history of consciousness)

Bettina Aptheker

(Ph.D. ’83, history of consciousness)

Bettina Aptheker is distinguished professor emerita, Feminist Studies Department, at UCSC. She held a UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies (2012–15, with Karen Tei Yamashita, emerita professor of literature), and was the first holder of the Peggy & Jack Baskin Foundation Endowed Presidential Chair for Feminist Studies (2017–21).

A scholar-activist, Bettina co-led the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in 1964–65; was a leader of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam; and co-led the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis (1970–72),which organized a transnational movement for Davis’s freedom. Davis, UC Santa Cruz distinguished professor emerita, was held in prison for 16 months before she was acquitted of the charges related to a 1970 prisoner revolt.

Bettina graduated with a master’s degree in communication studies from San Jose State University in 1976, and entered UCSC’s History of Consciousness Department in 1979. She began teaching in the Women’s Studies program in 1981, and helped to build it into one of the leading feminist studies departments in the country. Her most popular course at UCSC was Introduction to Feminisms, which she taught for 30 years.

In 2009 Bettina launched a new course, Feminism & Social Justice. And 10 years later that class was launched on the Coursera platform in four lectures and released online. As of now nearly 111,000 people have taken the course across the globe.

Bettina’s many books include, The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis (1976; second edition, 1999); Tapestries of Life: Women’s Work, Women’s Consciousness and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989); Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech & Became a Feminist Rebel (2006). Her most recent book released in September 2022 is, Communists in Closets: Queering the History, 1930s-1990s. She lives in Santa Cruz with her wife, Kate Miller.

Last modified: Apr 17, 2024