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Gretler Foundation board members and students

A Bridge to the Community

The Gretler Foundation helps campus enhance life in our region

Myron Gretler was a Santa Barbara local who formed a private foundation so that his estate would continue supporting the community of higher education after his passing. The Gretler Foundation stewards Myron’s legacy by supporting athletics and the Department of Economics at UC Santa Barbara.

The Gretler Foundation has close ties to UC Santa Barbara and the University of California. Board Secretary Harrison Croff M.A. ’13 credits UC Santa Barbara with helping him transition from his military background to a career in finance. Foundation administrator Janel Piersma ’99 and Director Lindsay Leonard ’05 are also alumni.

“I owe a debt to the UC system for my education,” said Board President Paul Graziano, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and his law degree from UCLA. “Being close to the UCSB campus allows us to have more of a personal, local impact.”

Led by Paul, the foundation’s support of UCSB Athletics and the Division of Social Sciences has flourished for over a decade. Paul describes athletics as a bridge to the local community, and the Gretler board agrees.

“For the families who bring their kids to UCSB sporting events, it’s exposure to the idea of college,” said Janel.

The Gretler Foundation contributes to UCSB Athletics projects that improve the quality of life for all student athletes and fans, like a weight room renovation that benefits all 20 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports programs, a new state-of-the-art Thunderdome video board and lights for baseball at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

“The Gretler Foundation has been instrumental in helping enhance our ability to connect with the community and student body by creating a more fan-friendly atmosphere,” said John McCutcheon, director of intercollegiate athletics. “They truly understand how athletics can be a front porch for the university to open campus to the broader community.”

While UCSB Athletics connects the community to wider campus life, the Department of Economics helps the community benefit from university research.

The UC Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project was established in 1981 to analyze economic, demographic and business trends in the tri-county area. Within this, the Community Indicators Project measures quality of life. Both projects help businesses and government invest strategically in the community.

“You can’t expect leaders to make strong decisions if they can’t see the impact,” said Harrison.

Economics is one of the largest majors on campus, and supporting research in this area is a key part of The Gretler Foundation’s strategy. The foundation’s Gretler Fellows include 21 undergraduates, 10 graduate students and five faculty members.

In pursuit of his Ph.D., Gretler Fellow Charlie Nusbaum is required to write at least three publication-quality research papers. Every minute a graduate student spends teaching or working second jobs is a minute of research sacrificed.

“Thanks to the Gretler Fellowship, I could dedicate time to working with my advisor,” said Charlie, who also connected with famous economist Tom Cooley for a project on aging populations. “If not for that summer, one of my three papers would not exist.”

Retirement, mudslides, State Street, housing: Santa Barbara residents wonder how issues like these will affect them. Economics explores social and fiscal consequences.

“Economics initiatives supported by The Gretler Foundation are oriented toward problem-solving from interdisciplinary perspectives,” said Charles Hale, SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences. “Social science research is absolutely essential as we seek solutions to the most pressing problems of our society.”

With support from The Gretler Foundation, UC Santa Barbara and our community come together in pursuit of common goals.