photo of Lisa Kermish
Lisa Kermish. Photo J.D. Hillard

As a student, Lisa Kermish (Stevenson ‘76, literature and creative writing) taught creative writing workshops, created her own major, and was arrested demonstrating for divestment from South Africa.

“It was the most amazing experience,” she says. “My time at UC Santa Cruz gave me great confidence in my abilities to make my own way, to make my own friends, to choose what is important to me.”

It was a time when it was common for students to have coffee with their professors or for classes to be held in a professor’s living room.

“Many of my closest friends are people I met then,” she says. “That tells me a lot about how special my experience was.”

Later her social justice instincts led her to help establish the union that represents professional and technical staff for the UC system. Now retired, she can still be found protesting injustices.

And she is increasingly concerned that the education she had has become unaffordable for many people.

She jokes with her nephews, both also alumni of Stevenson College, that she could work her way through school without accruing debt.

“They alternately laugh and cry when I say that.”

She is using her estate to address the problem.

Kermish has established a planned gift to Slug Support. When realized, her bequest will help students avert crises that might become obstacles to finishing their degrees. The program runs a food pantry, enables students to donate from their meal plans, and helps students connect with a range of services.

“This looked like a very comprehensive way to help out students facing a variety of needs,” she says.

Kermish notes that the typical student experience now includes financial anxiety. She hopes her gift will do more than make sure students in crisis can eat and pay rent, that it will also provide emotional support.

A career public servant, Kermish notes that she is not wealthy.

“I have some money to give and this is how I give it,” she says. “Somebody who is in crisis will know there are resources they can reach out to for help.”

If you would like to discuss how you can include the university in your estate plans, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at or (831) 459-1045. Learn more at