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Peter Betzer and Susie Beers Betzer ’65

“I had no idea there was anything like this in the offing,” recounts Susan (Susie) Beers Betzer ’65. “Jaw-dropping. Stunning.”

Susie’s husband, Peter Betzer, pulled off a special holiday surprise for his favorite green griffin. With the help of Anne Vittoria FP’05, director of gift planning, he set up an endowed fund honoring his wife. His announcement, decorated in her class color and flanked by griffins, was meticulously wrapped and tucked behind the Christmas tree.

“It was an incredible moment when I ripped open the layers of paper and discovered what Peter had done.”

“My wife is incredible and had a tremendous academic career at Mount Holyoke,” says Peter. “Mount Holyoke graduates go on to do very important things in whatever fields they choose. Why not help future Susie Beers Betzers and others to follow in the footsteps of wonderful leaders?”

Susie and Peter have been generous supporters of their alma maters, being sure to give equivalent gifts to both Mount Holyoke College and Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where Peter is an alumnus and trustee. Given this history, Susie insisted the new fund bear both of their names.

Interest from the Susan B. and Peter R. Betzer ’65 Endowed Fellowship Fund will be awarded annually, with first preference for a student conducting multidisciplinary research that bridges disciplines in any combination of fields. The fellowship award may be used for research, projects, trips and other activities that immerse students in the world of scholarly research.

“I am always impressed with Mount Holyoke and the many accomplishments of the people who matriculated there,” says Peter. “They are inspirational.”

In the fall of 1961, Susie Beers entered Mount Holyoke College intending to major in French. An introductory zoology course with Professor Bessie Boyd changed the trajectory of her studies and her life. She earned her PhD, launched a career in oceanography, then changed direction and embarked on a successful career in medicine.

An ardent Mount Holyoke supporter and volunteer, Susie has returned to campus many times since graduation, often bringing Peter. She believes that one of Mount Holyoke’s greatest strengths is the engagement of alumnae and the independence of the Alumnae Association. Her service to the Alumnae Association includes serving as president from 2003 to 2006, during which time she also served as a trustee of the College.

“One reason you volunteer is so you can go back to the campus you love,” says Susie. In a few years, Susie and Peter will have a new reason to return to campus: meeting future Betzer fellows.

“I started making gifts from my IRA for my 50th reunion,” says Susie. “I was required to start taking distributions from my IRA when I turned 70½ — just before my 50th reunion. Being able to make these distributions as a charitable gift is a wonderful way to make a contribution to something you really care about.”

The new fellowship fund will be funded over time using qualified charitable distributions from IRA accounts. As a legacy gift to the College, the Betzers also names Mount Holyoke as a beneficary of their retirement accounts.

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