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Equity in Education

Getz family establishes scholarship supporting transfer students

Before Wayne Getz emigrated from South Africa in 1979, he witnessed firsthand the brutal, race-based discrimination of apartheid. Seeking political stability and research opportunities, he and his family moved to Berkeley, where Getz joined the faculty in the Department of Entomological Sciences—now within the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

Even after living under apartheid, Getz was shocked by the racism he saw in the United States. “As a society, the country still hasn’t come to terms with it,” says Getz, who taught disease ecology, wildlife conservation, and resource management on campus for 39 years and is widely recognized as a leading researcher in population modeling and epidemiology.

Getz and his wife, Jennifer, also an educator, have made equity a priority in their lives. Jennifer had a long career in California K–12 and professional schools, where she worked to expand opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. Their two children, Stacey Kertsman (BA ’95 English and Sociology, MA ’00 Education) and Trevor Getz (BA ’95 Anthropology and History), have carried the cause forward. As a professor of history at San Francisco State University, Trevor researches the intersection of gender, colonialism, and slavery in Africa. Stacey, a former dean of equity education and social impact at the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, now consults on education equity.

The Getz and Kertsman families at a recent gathering.

The Getz and Kertsman families at a recent gathering.

In 2018, the family—including Stacey’s husband, Robert Kertsman, and Trevor’s wife, Jessica Getz—came together to establish the Getz-Kertsman Family Scholarship, an endowed fund for undergraduate students in Rausser College of Natural Resources. In particular, the fund targets transfer students, who are often constrained by financial obstacles that make attending a four-year university seem untenable.

According to university data, Berkeley transfer students predominantly come from California community colleges, and 42 percent are from families making less than $50,000 annually. Transfer students are more than twice as likely to be first-generation college graduates and are more likely to be members of a group historically underrepresented in higher education.

Currently, 12.8 percent of Rausser undergrads are transfer students. Getz notes that helping these students succeed creates other societal benefits, since many of the College’s multidisciplinary programs prepare students for careers in tackling inequity itself, particularly as it relates to natural resources and wealth distribution. “I’ve seen so many talented students graduate from our College ready to become future leaders in these areas,” says Getz. “We hope our gift expands access of marginalized and underrepresented students to tertiary education as part of building a more inclusive society.”

The Getz and Kertsman families also hope this endowment will instill a sense of public service in future generations of their family. “We’re committing together across generations,” says Stacey, “so that our children understand the importance of their contributions to a more equitable and just collective future, and this scholarship is one vehicle for that commitment.”

The families’ gift has been amplified through the Berner Matching Program for Endowed Scholarship Funds, made possible by a generous bequest from Raymond H. Berner. Another current program that doubles gifts to Rausser College is the FTG Berkeley Undergraduate Scholarship Matching Program.

Endowed needs-based scholarships, which require an initial $100,000 gift, are essential to Berkeley’s ability to attract and support talented scholars.

For information on increasing your impact through a philanthropic matching program or supporting our equity and inclusion efforts, contact Dave Tozer (dtozer@berkeley.edu) or Andrew Judd (judd@berkeley.edu) in the Rausser College development office.