Remembering Beth Butler and Honoring Her Commitment to Community

March 26, 2014

It was just over a year ago that Community Studies alumna Elizabeth (Beth) Butler (’96) died while investigating a domestic violence complaint as a Santa Cruz police detective, along with her colleague Butch Baker. The news was shocking and even now the tragedy seems hard to believe.  Beth was a vibrant presence in Santa Cruz as a police officer, mother of two young sons, loving partner to Peter Wu and all around community stalwart.  To honor Beth’s life and work, Community Studies has created the Elizabeth Butler Scholarship Endowment for Full Time Field Study in Santa Cruz.  

Elizabeth Butler was born and raised in Lomita, just outside of Los Angeles, and attended Bishop Montgomery High School where she was steeped in values of community service. After graduating from high school in 1992, Beth migrated north to attend UCSC. Thanks to the values animating her education, she pursued a degree Community Studies where she studied social justice and applied its principles in a full time field study working with La Familia Center in Santa Cruz’s Beach Flats neighborhood.  

When she moved into the UCSC dorms in that September of 1992, it probably never occurred to Beth that Santa Cruz would become her adopted home. But after brief stints elsewhere, she moved back permanently in 2002 when she joined the Santa Cruz Police Department.  Beth’s decade on the police force afforded countless opportunities to draw upon her Community Studies education.  Police work for Beth was always about the pursuit of justice, requiring rapport, patience, and skills of careful social investigation—all enduring hallmarks of Community Studies. 

The exclusive purpose of the Endowment Fund will be to support an annual award, to be known as the Elizabeth Butler Scholarship, to support undergraduate full time field study in the city and county of Santa Cruz. Questions about the endowment and scholarship should be directed to Mary Beth Pudup, Community Studies Program Director, through the Program Office at 831 459-2371 or at

Gifts to the Endowment Fund are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.  Please be generous.  Personal checks made out to the UC Santa Cruz Foundation can be mailed to the Community Studies Program, 213 Oakes College, 1156 High Street, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 and secure online contributions can be made at